19.1.13

THE AUTHENTICITY TRAP.

Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts calls out the stereotyping that any call to authenticity entails.
I have no natural rhythm, no criminal record and can correctly pronounce the word “ask.” I don’t curse nearly as much as I ought to. Oh, and I went and married my baby mama.

Obviously, my blackness is on life support.

Many of us have been taught that it is demeaning and delimiting when someone presumes to say who you are, how you will behave, what you think, what you like, and how intelligent you are, from the color of your skin. We have been taught that such behavior abridges the other person’s individuality.

But apparently, that’s only when white people do it to black people. When black people do it to black people, it’s called assessing your blackness, making sure you aren’t some “cornball brother.”

How enlightening to learn that. It is even more enlightening to discover that we have such easy-peasy rubrics to go by. You can’t be black if you are a Republican? That means Colin Powell isn’t black. Neither, if published reports are to be believed, are rappers LL Cool J and 50 Cent. Who’d have thought?

And if you can’t be black and have a white significant other . . . wow. There goes — what? half? 90 percent? — of all the brothers in the NBA.

Poor Frederick Douglass has a double whammy. He was a Republican and had a white wife. Who’d have thought this former slave, one of the towering heroes of African-American history, wasn’t black enough?
Keep that in mind as we celebrate Rev. King's birthday, and the civil rights cause.

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