Ok. Once I got over the initial shock of discovering that I might actually be white, I realized that there was no way in hell I could let my mother know... I mean, it'd break her heart! So I figured I'd better try and redeem myself and set the record straight by giving you the skinny on what black people like, as only a black person could tell ya!
- 1. Keepin’ it real – Coincidentally, this is the primary reason I’m writing this post. Of course – as Dave Chappelle enlightened us – some fools take that sh*t waaaay too far.
- 2. Conspiracy theories – Every black person knows that AIDS was ‘invented’ (and why), and suspects that Biggie’s and Tupac’s deaths were probably orchestrated by the government. But really, can you blame us? With agencies like COINTELPRO and incidents like the Tuskegee Experiment as part of our storied American past, it’s better to be suspicious than syphilitic.
- 3. The O.J. Simpson verdict – Ask any Black person where they were when the verdict was delivered, and they’ll tell the story with more breathy excitement than they recount the time their team made it to the Superbowl.
- 4. Hookups – Paying full price is for lames. Whether it’s free music downloads, discounted rims, or easy access to the VIP lounge, we love being able to proudly announce, “Don’t sweat it. I got a hookup.”
- 5. Reality TV – If this were the 80s, this entry might have been reserved for soap operas (or ‘the stories’ as my aunty calls them). But the 21st century replacement is reality TV shows. At first we used to watch them to see how long the token black person would last before being dramatically voted off by the other cast members. Now we watch to see how many steps they’re gonna set us back on the black progress scale.
- 6. Hair salons / barber shops – Having been natural for the last 11 years, I don’t get to visit often, but when I do, I know I’m gonna get caught up on everything that’s ‘hot in the streets’. Sure you can get your wig shook there, but more importantly, you can get word-of-mouth news of the Diaspora. Plus, black barber shops and hair salons are single-handedly keeping Jet magazine (if not the entire Johnson publishing empire) in business.
- 7. Gossip – Start any sentence with ‘Gurrrrrrrrl, did you hear about…’ Or ‘you didn’t hear this from me, but…’ and you will have the attention of every black person in a 10-mile radius. The best gossip is usually found while visiting #6
- 8. Marijuana – bringing blacks and liberal whites together in peaceful harmony since 1964.
- 9. Remixes – Many black artists have damned near made a career out of making one hot track and then flipping it 1,714 times (case in point: R. Kelly).
- 10. Good hair – I’ll probably piss some people off with this one. But that doesn’t make it not true. A term that’s used to define black hair that has a naturally relaxed curl pattern, many black people’s desire to acheive the look of it has driven them to such desperate measures as: the texturizer, the wave nouveau and the jheri curl.
- 11. Set claiming – If you’ve ever been in the club and heard shouts of: Guyana massive!, Zone 3! or WEST SIDE!! You’ve experienced the phenomenon known as ‘set claiming’. No matter how small the country, state, city, or neighborhood black people LOVE to represent their turf. MAC-TOWN fo’ LIFE!!!
- 12. Tyler Perry – Honestly, I feel like if you’ve seen one Tyler Perry movie, you’ve seen ‘em all. But he gets much respect for: 1. keeping most of black Hollywood employed, 2. consistently churning out movies that (though they may be formulaic) present positive images of black people that make us laugh, cry, and yell at the screen, and 3. being the best modern-day rags to riches story we can point to.
- 13. Gospel plays – Somebody’s got to be going to these damned things, and I know it ain’t white people. Besides, it’s where #12 got his start.
- 14. Spades / bid whist / dominoes – Which one we love most is usually a pretty good indicator of what region of the country we’re from. In the South, it’s spades. Midwest: bid whist. West Coast: break out the bones.
- 15. Sh*t Talking – May also take the form of ‘joneing’, ‘cracking’, ‘the dozens’ or ya mama jokes. You are guaranteed to witness the finest quality and most intense variety during #14
- 16. The Bus Stop (a.k.a. the Electric Slide) – My high school Spanish teacher once showed us a video of people dancing flamenco, after which he lamented the fact that black people didn’t have a sort of ‘national dance’ that could be performed by all generations. One of my fellow students quickly piped up, “What about the Bus Stop?” Spend more than 1 hour at a black family reunion and you're bound to see them... Set it off! Which brings me to...
- 17. Family reunions - I never really thought about it before, but found out this past summer that this is a uniquely African-American ritual. I was in a busy tourist locale with a couple of non-black friends, and there were lots of family reunion groups (in their matching tees) peppered about the place. My friends wondered aloud why all those people were walking around dressed alike. As I explained, they were genuinely shocked at the concept, and the fact that we even have t-shirts made to commemorate the events. Go figure.
- 18. Claiming to have Indian (feather, not red dot) heritage – C’mon, you know that’s how you explain away the fact that your great-grandmother or great-great grandfather was so light-skinned and had 'good hair'.
- 19. Barack Obama – has the same unifying effect as #8, without the smell or the potential legal entanglements
- 20. Big booties – Every black man wants one, and (most) every black woman has one. Sadly, I’m still waiting for mine to show up.
So there! You see, I AM black. Well, mostly. Now would somebody give me back my afro pick, please?