LGBTQ Magazine

Black Vs. White: When Grey Isn't Enough

By Tieshasadie @TieshaSadie

Black vs. White: When Grey Isn't Enough

Today someone whom I follow on FB posted a status that left me in a internalized state of fierce opposition, a bout of inner conflict, if you will. Half of me was intrigued, whilst the other was infuriated. Here is what the aforementioned acquaintance wrote:

"...Everyone just thinks I'm young so I'm cool with slang and just overall hood jargon and attitude
During interviews... convos ... While I shop ... At restaurants ... Everything ....
Stop it 5...
That's not what I want...
Treat me like I'm white fuck it...
Someone should do a documentary on how black people treat each other vs how they treat white people ..."

From a state of intrigue:
The entity who transcribed the above sentiment is a business owner.  To be far more precise, he is a black cis-gendered male business owner.  This implies that he is determined, talented, and clearly, business-oriented as prescribed by those who hold the greatest grip over the hierarchy of finance (ya'll know of whom I speak).  It is has been embedded in the psyche of the working class, that in order to gain the job that you seek, you must dress the part.  In this context, dress does not pertain entirely to your physical appearance, it embodies both your lingo, attitude, and in some cases, point of view.
When agreeing to interview for a position, you subconsciously tweak and alter your natural state of being to cater to the protocols of work ethics.  Its what we have been taught to do and thusly, expected of us.  As to not cause waves and to ensure our next paycheck, entities willingly sacrifice their personalities for personas.  It is what it is and as a creature who works within the corporate threshold, I understand why one of that realm would desire an air of professionalism and etiquette-based linguistics.  I also get that in our time, 'non-white verse' is ever-evolving and it is likely that some of the lingo, may be foreign to ears not steadily engulfed in the seeding culture.  It is easier to stick with what you have been taught, that which you understand, that which you are most comfortable with when weighed against that the usage of something that is unpredictable and well, off the cuff.  Mama gets it.
Also, what it comes down to is a fear and care: the white video journalists will not discuss black culture versus white culture for fear of losing their job and/or being labeled a racist The black video journalists will not discuss black lingo versus white lingo because...well they just don't care.  There is nothing ground-breaking about how black people communicate with different races...and let me tell you as a natural-born creative, if you're going to put your talent out there for critique, the subject that you choose as your threshold can only be reflective of your passion or it is not worth undertaking.

From a state of infuriation:

Once upon a time or so it seems, the black/negro culture was based solely on person-to-person communication.  We built a system of interaction that was derived of our experience and geared to real-time need.  It was of our own, by our own; it was adaptable, versatile and simply divine.  Let's fast forward to the white plague (as I so fondly like to label it)... rapists, opportunists, landed on lush, inhabited shores and quite simply, murdered all traces of black.  Black was far too uncivilized, it reeked of diversity, and it dared to have differing clearly, it had to be expunged.  The 'proper' man taught us the proper language, the 'proper' etiquette, and the 'proper' attire...and for a time, black was silenced.  Let us keep in mind, that this shit was FORCED.  We didn't have a fucking choice...I'm talking about that 'by penalty of death' type of force.  It was a good ol' fashioned 'conform or die' period of our history.  It was essentially, the birth of censorship.

In modern times, black has made strides in finding its feet, and many of these attempts have been grand and prosperous, I am delighted to say.  As a people, we are split into diverse groups: from the upper-crust hipster networkers to the afro-futurist community warriors to the gangster paradise entrepreneurs   Each facet of black is built on a pillar of love; the categorical range of the other three pillars is infinite...profit, empowerment, rage, etc.  Within each of these sects there is a identity-based language that has matured with the character and need of this particular block in our time spectrum, examples being:

Brother. King. Queen. Cuz. Ninja. Sister. Fam. 5. Kin. Partner. Son. God. Goddesses.

These terms are of endearment, forged in respect, and laced with unity.  It is the rebirth of OUR language and thou it may not be whitebread acceptable, it is true and it gets no realer.  Why would I not anoint a potential business partner as "bro"....why would I not bless my students, as "goddesses and gods" in and out of the classroom....Why would I not give dap equally to my fellow liquor store patron as I would to a fellow library visitor.  Why is it inappropriate if it is ours.  Should the lingo hold with it a level of un-professionalism in your eyes, perhaps black is not the business that you should be in.  No, a black person would not speak to a white person as they would to a black person, one is family...the other is not.

And lastly, from a state of grey:

We as human beings are eternally living with a condition of adaptation.  We adapt to survive, we adapt to thrive, and we adapt to pacify (this is of course, a generalization, there are a distinguished group who couldn't give less of a fuck about pacifying and/or catering to any outside body's precedents). 

We must all accept that what makes one person comfortable will put another in dismay.  This is true of every demographic/culture/race/sex/ and class.  Our best in any scenario is to find a group whose characteristics match the comfort level that we seek to nest within.  You want textbook English, partake at the ivy-league want street poetry, sit in on a playground jam want gold leggings and gyrating hips, baby let's rave!  There is a venue that caters to whatever lifestyle tickles your fancy, you need only seek it out then engulf yourself in its practices and people.

To put simply, to thrive within this pre-determined and pre-dictated corporate world one must speak the corporate tongue, or risk favor and approval.  The substitute would be to find/build your own professional community in which our many tongues are welcomed and appreciated.  Two distinct paths, you be the guide.

_ _ _ _ _
Oh..and a disclaimer, should the entity (or someone who knows the entity) who wrote the introductory quote above, feel some sort of way about me  reflecting on need to cut that unnecessary shit out, this ain't got a damn thing to do with you.  If anything, let me say thanks for the mental catalyst, and potential topic for next week's class.Black vs. White: When Grey Isn't Enough



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