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As a result, some people have a hard time taking me at face value. When people who don’t know me well, black or white, discover my background, and it is usually a discovery, for I ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites, I see the split-second adjustments they have to make, the searching of my eyes.
Later, when I was alone, I would try to untangle these difficult thoughts. It was obvious that certain whites could be exempted from the general category of our distrust: Ray was always telling me how cool my grandparents were. The term white was simply a shorthand for him, I decided, a tag for what my mother would call a bigot. And although I recognized the risks in his terminology, how easy it was to fall into the same sloppy thinking that my basketball coach had displayed
There are white folks, and then there are ignorant mother#ers like you, I had finally told the coach before walking off the court that day. Ray assured me that we would never talk about whites as whites in front of whites without knowing exactly what we were doing. Without knowing that there might be a price to pay.
But was that right? Was there still a price to pay? That was the complicated part, the thing that Ray and I never could seem to agree on. There were times when I would listen to him tell some blond girl he’d just met about life on L.A.’s mean streets, or hear him explain the scars of racism to some eager young teacher, and I could swear that just beneath the sober expression Ray was winking at me, letting me in on the score. Our rage at the white world needed no object, he seemed to be telling me, no independent confirmation, it could be switched on and off at our pleasure. Sometimes, after one of his performances, I would question his judgment, if not his sincerity.
We weren’t living in the Jim Crow South, I would remind him. We weren’t consigned to some heatless housing project in Harlem or the Bronx. We were in goddamned Hawaii. We said what we pleased, ate where we pleased; we sat at the front of the proverbial bus. None of our white friends, guys like Jeff or Scott from the basketball team, treated us any differently than they treated each other. They loved us, and we loved them back. #, seemed like half of ’em wanted to be black themselves-or at least Doctor J.
Well, that’s true, Ray would admit.
Maybe we could afford to give the badassed 'n-word' pose a rest. Save it for when we really needed it.
And Ray would shake his head. A pose, huh? Speak for your own self.
And I would know that Ray had flashed his trump card, one that, to his credit, he rarely played. I was different, after all, potentially suspect, I had no idea who my own self was. Unwilling to risk exposure, I would quickly retreat to safer ground.
Ray’s face suddenly glistened with anger. “Look,” he said, “I’m just getting along, all right? Just like I see you getting along, talking your game with the teachers when you need them to do you a favor. All that stuff about, yes, Miss Snooty Bitch, I just find this novel so engaging, if I can just have one more day for that paper, I’ll kiss your white ass. It’s their world, all right? They own it, and we in it. So just get the # outta my face.”
I had begun to see a new map of the world, one that was frightening in its simplicity, suffocating in its implications. We were always playing on the white man’s court, Ray had told me, by the white man’s rules. If the principal, or the coach, or a teacher, or Kurt, wanted to spit in your face, he could, because he had power and you didn’t. If he decided not to, if he treated you like a man or came to your defense, it was because he knew that the words you spoke, the clothes you wore, the books you read, your ambitions and desires, were already his. Whatever he decided to do, it was his decision to make, not yours, and because of that fundamental power he held over you, because it preceded and would outlast his individual motives and inclinations, any distinction between good and bad whites held negligible meaning. In fact, you couldn’t even be sure that everything you had assumed to be an expression of your black, unfettered self, the humor, the song, the behind the back pass, had been freely chosen by you. At best, these things were a refuge; at worst, a trap. Following this maddening logic, the only thing you could choose as your own was withdrawal into a smaller and smaller coil of rage, until being black meant only the knowledge of your own powerlessness, of your own defeat. And the final irony: Should you refuse this defeat and lash out at your captors, they would have a name for that, too, a name that could cage you just as good. Paranoid. Militant. Violent. Nigger.
What had Frank called college? An advanced degree in compromise. I thought back to the last time I had seen the old poet, a few days before I left Hawaii. We had made small talk for a while; he complained about his feet, the corns and bone spurs that he insisted were a direct result of trying to force African feet into European shoes. Finally he had asked me what it was that I expected to get out of college. I told him I didn’t know. He shook his big, hoary head.
“Well,” he said, “that’s the problem, isn’t it? You don’t know. You’re just like the rest of these young cats out here. All you know is that college is the next thing you’re supposed to do. And the people who are old enough to know better, who fought all those years for your right to go to college, they’re just so happy to see you in there that they won’t tell you the truth. The real price of admission.”
“And what’s that?”
“Leaving your race at the door,” he said. “Leaving your people behind.” He studied me over the top of his reading glasses. “Understand something, boy. You’re not going to college to get educated. You’re going there to get trained. They’ll train you to want what you don’t need. They’ll train you to manipulate words so they don’t mean anything anymore. They’ll train you to forget what it is that you already know. They’ll train you so good, you’ll start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that #. They’ll give you a corner office and invite you to fancy dinners, and tell you you’re a credit to your race. Until you want to actually start running things, and then they’ll yank on your chain and let you know that you may be a well-trained, well-paid 'n-word', but you’re a 'n-word' just the same.”
Anyway, most of the other black students at Oxy didn’t seem all that worried about compromise. There were enough of us on campus to constitute a tribe, and when it came to hanging out many of us chose to function like a tribe, staying close together, traveling in packs. Freshman year, when I was still living in the dorms, there’d be the same sort of bull sessions that I’d had with Ray and other blacks back in Hawaii, the same grumblings, the same list of complaints. Otherwise, our worries seemed indistinguishable from those of the white kids around us. Surviving classes. Finding a well-paying gig after graduation. Trying to get laid. I had stumbled upon one of the well-kept secrets about black people: that most of us weren’t interested in revolt; that most of us were tired of thinking about race all the time; that if we preferred to keep to ourselves it was mainly because that was the easiest way to stop thinking about it, easier than spending all your time mad or trying to guess whatever it was that white folks were thinking about you.
So why couldn’t I let it go?
I don’t know. I didn’t have the luxury, I suppose, the certainty of the tribe. Grow up in Compton and survival becomes a revolutionary act. You get to college and your family is still back there rooting for you. They’re happy to see you escape; there’s no question of betrayal. But I hadn’t grown up in Compton, or Watts. I had nothing to escape from except my own inner doubt. I was more like the black students who had grown up in the suburbs, kids whose parents had already paid the price of escape. You could spot them right away by the way they talked, the people they sat with in the cafeteria. When pressed, they would sputter and explain that they refused to be categorized. They weren’t defined by the color of their skin, they would tell you. They were individuals.
That’s how Joyce liked to talk. She was a good-looking woman, Joyce was, with her green eyes and honey skin and pouty lips. We lived in the same dorm my freshman year, and all the brothers were after her. One day I asked her if she was going to the Black Students’ Association meeting. She looked at me funny, then started shaking her head like a baby who doesn’t want what it sees on the spoon.
“I’m not black,” Joyce said. “I’m multiracial.” Then she started telling me about her father, who happened to be Italian and was the sweetest man in the world; and her mother, who happened to be part African and part French and part Native American and part something else. “Why should I have to choose between them?” she asked me. Her voice cracked, and I thought she was going to cry. “It’s not white people who are making me choose. Maybe it used to be that way, but now they’re willing to treat me like a person. No-it’s black people who always have to make everything racial. They’re the ones making me choose. They’re the ones who are telling me that I can’t be who I am….”
They, they, they. That was the problem with people like Joyce. They talked about the richness of their multicultural heritage and it sounded real good, until you noticed that they avoided black people. It wasn’t a matter of conscious choice, necessarily, just a matter of gravitational pull, the way integration always worked, a one-way street. The minority assimilated into the dominant culture, not the other way around. Only white culture could be neutral and objective. Only white culture could be nonracial, willing to adopt the occasional exotic into its ranks. Only white culture had individuals. And we, the half breeds and the college degreed, take a survey of the situation and think to ourselves, Why should we get lumped in with the losers if we don’t have to? We become only so grateful to lose ourselves in the crowd, America’s happy, faceless marketplace; and we’re never so outraged as when a cabbie drives past us or the woman in the elevator clutches her purse, not so much because we’re bothered by the fact that such indignities are what less fortunate coloreds have to put up with every single day of their lives-although that’s what we tell ourselves-but because we’re wearing a Brooks Brothers suit and speak impeccable English and yet have somehow been mistaken for an ordinary 'n-word'.
I sat up, lit another cigarette, emptied the bottle into my glass. I knew I was being too hard on poor Joyce. The truth was that I understood her, her and all the other black kids who felt the way she did. In their mannerisms, their speech, their mixed-up hearts, I kept recognizing pieces of myself. And that’s exactly what scared me. Their confusion made me question my own racial credentials all over again, Ray’s trump card still lurking in the back of my mind. I needed to put distance between them and myself, to convince myself that I wasn’t compromised-that I was indeed still awake.
To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets. We smoked cigarettes and wore leather jackets. At night, in the dorms, we discussed neocolonialism, Franz Fanon, Eurocentrism, and patriarchy. When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our stereos so loud that the walls began to shake, we were resisting bourgeois society’s stifling constraints. We weren’t indifferent or careless or insecure. We were alienated.
But this strategy alone couldn’t provide the distance I wanted, from Joyce or my past. After all, there were thousands of so-called campus radicals, most of them white and tenured and happily tolerated. No, it remained necessary to prove which side you were on, to show your loyalty to the black masses, to strike out and name names.
Originally posted by timetothink
reply to post by SaturnFX
Wrong... if your parents are citizens it doesn't matter where you are born....why is this so hard to comprehend....but anchor babies from Pakistan or anywhere else though citizens (only in lefty term) are not natural born or eligible to be president.
You fail to realize that the same resentment he expresses towards white people is the same resentments that people express towards the Bilderburgs, democrats, republicans, government, etc.
Originally posted by TKDRL
Since when is any of those a race? Singling out the white man as the source of all evil is racist.
Originally posted by Dukesy
reply to post by TinkerHaus
Isn't it just dandy how every Obama thread just explodes into a angry discussion. I want to say right off that I am a independent. Saying that, I would think after reading Obama's book how any fool, who can think for ones self, cannot read between the lines - Obama has no love for the American way of life - that is what the op is saying.
Obama should have never reached the level of power he has achieved with the lack of experience he carries from his political career. Add the lack of experience and throw his negative thoughts and feelings into the mix and you now have the disaster that exists today. Granted he ran a great campaign - he even looked like our new president before he was even elected. It was all done with mirrors. I'll bet there are days David Axelrod would like to jump out a window LOL.
Obama fed us all the crap we were yearning for - we all fell for it - well most of us. Then reality set in, the start of a long list of lies began. The thing that really frustrates most of us is how can anyone who keeps informed continually support his useless leadership. I mean useless - and also his idea of "if I throw enough money at the problem it will fix itself". What a joke - raise the national budget again? And for what? So those who are not contributing to our way of life can live off of the government breast? We cannot maintain this way of thinking for ever - it will correct itself in one way or another and I might live long enough to see that.
Like I said above - I am a independent that keeps informed - our country is in trouble and this guy hit us right in between the eyes with a lot of speeches and useless spending. Talk about perfect timing for destroying America. Anything he may have done right was done strictly under enormous pressure from the public or for his new campaign strategy. If I hear one more time "let me make myself perfectly clear" I am going to barf. Nothing could be farther from the truth from a man who says one thing and does another. This man is one notch from a dictator.
There isn't enough time in my life to explain all the right things that need to be done, and I am not saying I have all the answers - but common sense is instilled in most people. Reading his book will send anyone a message who absorbs the inner negative thoughts and feelings that come out of this guy in his writing. No matter who reads it - you will walk away a with a different view and understanding of Obama - and I do not mean for the better.
He should of never been elected - he is a fraud.
edit on 30-5-2012 by Dukesy because: (no reason given)
Originally posted by timetothink
reply to post by SaturnFX
Ah...according to the laws the left have ignored and hidden from their followers....but there is the rub....now the precedent has been set by your guy....so the GOP has free reign........wonder who they can get and put in there?? See ....getting around the law is great until the other side decides to take it's turn.....and that time will come....and even though it is so wrong.......I will
Originally posted by prophetboy12
reply to post by openyourmind1262
"O" is on video stating he was born in Kenya. Interviewer had to correct him. What! He is on video stating that he is of Muslem faith. Even saying that people did not hold that against him. What!.
He in his own words on camera said these things. All you have to do is Google it.
He does not put his hand over his heart when our National Anthem is played. That makes me sick.
I am a Veteran and I feel sick every time I see his face.
Originally posted by KonquestAbySS
At least the OP has read Obama's horrible biography about his so called life.
Originally posted by KaiserSoze
I'm in. There is no doubt in my mind now about him and his anti-American views, but the book might be interesting.
Originally posted by randomname
so far in the published media reports its birthers 2, msm 1.
to recap, the birthers have 2 points with a decisive win in the harvard review bio and a stunning game changing bomb when the birthers, dropped the hammer and released a second published report, this time the sunday standard, claiming obama was born in kenya.
the msm, showing an uninspired and lacklustre effort, appear to be keeping the local newspaper birth announcement defence.
but hold on to your laptops, its still anybodies game. the msm is a powerhouse that can easily rally in the 4th quarter and take the title.
Originally posted by timetothink
reply to post by SaturnFX
Apparently you cannot read or comprehend or refuse to do both....I posted the case law for you and the interpretations by the Justices...don't lie and say isn't what it is...at least have the #$% to admit the left illegally hoaxed the country putting him in office...why not be proud and take credit for the great thing you guys did...you set a PRECEDENT..you got around the constitution...revel in it..it's too late now to do anything about it anyway. Hiding behind lies is just cowardice. Part of the country knows what you did, part of the country is in on it and the rest of the country is too stupid or doesn't care....mission accomplished....just remember this when it happens again.
And if I don't know what I'm talking about...answer me a question since all you do is question and spout opinion....why have they been trying since 1975 to take the Natural Born citizen phrase out of the constitution if it doesn't mean anything special......I will be waiting....edit on 30-5-2012 by timetothink because: (no reason given)