I have a friend; let’s call him “Bob”. Bob made me stop being Black. Bob explained to me how absurd it was for anyone to consider himself or herself “Black”. I started raging at first. Bob is married to a white woman so I was immediately tempted to go with, “Bob, you self-hating…”
Then I got it.
So now, when I stand in front of the mirror, I no longer see a Black man. I just see me.
Of course, I tested this theory in a room full of “N-Words” and they all wanted to lynch me.
“What do you mean you not Black?” demanded the one.
“You don’t like being a Black man?” asked the other.
“What? You hate yourself or something? Where’d you grow up?” asked the last.
Chris Wilder got it immediately.
“Of course!” he said. He sounded almost mad through the phone. “When I stand in front of the mirror, I don’t see some Black man. I just see me.”
“Right!” I cheered.
“Bob still hates himself, tho,” Wilder assured me.
One of the great mind-screw things done to Blacks in this country which, I gotta tell you, even as a victim I gotta respect for the sheer depth of its depraved genius, was to make us see ourselves as “other”. Like even in our own skin and in our own homes we are somehow alien.
The white male is America’s logo.
My people fought over which name fit us best and I still like “Black”. “African-American” is for another conversation. So in the American context, I AM A BLACK MAN-immediately, before I’m anything else, human being or Child of God. But if the first thing that I see when I’m alone and I look into the mirror is a Black man, that means that I’ve accepted America’s view of me as my own.
That would be insane.