In 2009, Miley Cyrus said she had never heard a Jay-Z song despite singing lyrics in one of her songs,about riding out to one of his songs. In 2014, as I write this, I keep turning the radio station to dodge her rap single where she’s feeling herself. Last year, after Hov dropped his album with cynical lyrics giving Miley permission to twerk, I read a good article that described Miley’s transformation as progressive. I don’t really see it that way, but I’ll be more inclined to agree when her ghost writers have her recite today’s mathematics. That probably went over the head of 85% of those reading, but now that I got it off my chest, let’s look back at our March into April and talk about the difference between reverse progression and regression.
On March 29, Saturday Night Live aired a sketch called “Black Jeopardy” featuring Louis C.K. as the only white contestant. It was one of those moments where just because I laughed, didn’t make it funny. The decision to “go ghetto” got under my skin in a way that would support Bamboozled being Spike Lee’s most important work (if only Damon Wayans didn’t talk in that creaky floor voice). To achieve a similar targeted laugh, I don’t see why SNL couldn’t include a category like “Things White People Think They Discovered.” I mean the answers, in question form of course, could include the Harlem Shake, Twerking, Robin Thicke and (for the daily double) America – maybe that would result in reverse laughter too comparable to the voices that haunted Dave Chappelle when he exited his Comedy Central show? I wanted to do more than write an open letter to Lorne Michaels. I wanted the executives, the writers and cast to get lectured by a higher moral authority; that’s when I realized there are few to none who could effectively both shame them and articulate their social responsibility when coupling the subjects of Blacks with intellect. Meanwhile, in real-life Jeopardy, just one month prior there was a category which no white contestant wanted to use his or her high IQ.
Springing forward, April foolery commenced with Nick Cannon defending his promotional stunt of appearing in “white face.” This is a quizzical term to me that seems to support a trend of the even more misappropriated declaration of “reverse racism.” They both are very persuading derogatory accusations that conveniently abandon the inherent history of the terms they try to, flip.
It’s as if the post-racial police, have teamed up with equal opportunist groups (imagine Michigan Against Affirmative Action) and they’re trying to make any interracial adage work in their favor for a bumper sticker that reads: “we’re all the same color when the lights are off – M.A.A.A.” It’s both clever and baseless, which means its bullshit. Put it like this, just because you live in a windowless room with an analog clock doesn’t mean there’s no difference between high noon and midnight.
Before I tangent further with analogies let me go back to the irony of the “white face” debacle. Mr. Cannon applied “make-up” in an attempt to emulate the classic Eddie Murphy SNL skit of yesteryear. At the time of Eddie, it was praised and well received by an audience in a post-Norman Lear programming era. Besides the fact that Eddie is Eddie Murphy and Nick is Nick Cannon, today’s America’s Got Talent viewer was insulted by the temporary bleaching and remixed a pejorative term while disregarding its origin. There is a stark difference between the caricature depictions of black people that birthed this nation’s invention of “black face” and what Nick did. However, there is little difference between what black vaudeville actors did to make a living in minstrel shows -back then – and what the black writers and cast members did with that Jeopardy spoof to make a living – today. Maybe Spike should make a sequel called Hoodwinked.
A couple weeks later, out of leftist field and timed well with the promotion of the new show Cosmos, an old clip of Neil Degrasse Tyson at a panel discussion made a blitz on social media feeds. Tyson took on the challenge to answer the age old Eurocentric question of whether women and blacks are genetically inferior. Actually that wasn’t the way the question posed, but Tyson, a member of the upper echelon in science, chose to face something head on – something that was very familiar. This something is never reversed in the favor of the female or the non-white regardless of the evidence. Jesse Owens could have invented the Theory of Relativity and Aryan-like arrogance would still allow the question to be presented with a Bill O’Reillian burden of proof. In the answer Tyson gave, he addressed the lack of equal opportunity and an uneven playing field, but to his credit he took it another step further and spoke of the consistent discouragement and resistance he had to face on his journey. To break down more atoms in the power of white superiority DNA a/k/a racism, had Tyson not answered the question with just the right combination of tone, sincerity, and levity, and with the wisdom to answer the question with a better question – meaning had he responded with signs of aggression or any attribute of a rebellious Negro – let’s just say he might not have a primetime show.
My uncle used to say that “being white is a moral choice.” That’s what Justice Sotomayor probably wanted to say in her recent 58 page dissent regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the ban on affirmative action for college admission in Michigan (pay attention SNL). I would like to reiterate this moral choice to the legal authorities involved in Arizona’s tale of two mothers who gave Catalina Clouser probation and those who currently hold the fate of Shanesha Taylor and her children. Just so you understand the nuances of racism, had Shanesha held back her tears in her mugshot, she would have been perceived as an angry black woman and probably would’ve gotten much less public support.
If you want to talk about some of the reverses this month, let’s talk about Ms. Clouser changing her hair from hot pink to All-American blonde for her court appearance. Let’s talk about former NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik writing an empathic book on the injustices of the criminal justice system after spending 3 years in jail. Let’s talk about the opposite attractions of oppressors Donald Sterling, Strom Thurmond and other white men like KKK leader Frazier Glenn Miller (caught with a black male prostitute) who invert their desires and envy with their hatred and insecurities. Let me just summarize all this in one tweet: reverse racism ain’t nothing but reverse psychology.
The people I’m speaking to might not care to read this, or my uncle’s work, but what’s sadly evident is they have very little understanding of their own history, which cannot be reversed. Here’s a quick lesson, it took 101 years after the Emancipation Proclamation to get a Civil Rights Bill to become law. Four years later Martin Luther King Jr., a leader of that Civil Rights movement, was assassinated. His birthday was made into national holiday in 1983 and wasn’t observed by all 50 states until the year 2000. Arizona didn’t recognize MLK Day until 1992. As much as I would like to credit Public Enemy for the change, it was mainly because the NFL threatened not to have the Superbowl in Phoenix the following year – it’s always about the money. I wonder what would happen if non-white student athletes refused to play for Michigan schools. They might not reverse the ban but I’m pretty sure all
their teams would suck. Was that racist?
T. Better Baldwin is an ethical lobbyist and creative mercenary who was born, raised and resides in New York City. He also lives here.