The Convenient Black: The OJ syndrome

04 Nov

Herman Cain, who has been quoted as saying that race does not matter, had suddenly discovered it does. Like his clone twin Uncle Clarence Thomas, he has been accused of having trouble understanding that getting women to notice him is not accomplished by profanity and groping.  Last month Cain said, “I don’t believe racism in this country today holds anybody back in a big way.”  Now, all of a sudden after all his rhetoric about how racism is irrelevant and not prevalent he claims to be the victim of a “high tech lynching”, a phrase popularized by his buddy Uncle Clarence and under similar circumstances.

I do not know about other people, but I am tired of black people who have shown no interest in claiming their blackness, helping black people, fighting for social justice for any color of people, or even acknowledging we still have a way to go regarding race and racism in this country running, when they get in trouble, to the very black community that they have variously dissed, deserted and distanced themselves from and expecting us to welcome them with open arms and rally around them. The first national example of this was OJ Simpson. OJ tried as hard as he could to be viewed as colorless. He did not appear at black function, did not support black causes, did not march, did not speak out, did not champion, nothing. When he was arrested for slicing up his white wife, however, he suddenly became a brother, or more accurately a brutha.  When asked by one reporter why he suddenly found this black identity and affinity for the black community he famously responded that he actually had supported black causes over the year, but anonymously. Obviously he did not realize that this statement in and of itself was enough for revocation of his club membership.Why would a black man have to donate anonymously unless he was trying not to be found out to actually be black???

History is full of black people trying to erase their color by their actions and words. It never works, but bless them, they keep trying. They should have had the father I had, who after an NAACP meeting he had taken me to when I was 12, which was attended by quite a few PhDs from the local colleges,  asked me if I knew what white people called a black man with a PhD.  I  told him I did not know, to which he replied smiling  ” a nigger.”  My father was one of the most positive people on earth, always in a good mood. The fact that he would make that comment to me at that age let me understand the depth of his feelings of frustration at the slow movement of change. A lot of black people do not seem to understand that the roots of racism run deep, and trying to convince white people that you are “not like those bad blacks” is a zero sum game. To me, it is insulting, not just to your fellow blacks, but also to white people. To presume they cannot like you, be friends with you, or even love you, unless they are convinced you are not that black or not black at all except in skin color, is to presume they are all bigots, which is certainly not true. Cliched as it is, some of my best friends truly are white!

Being conveniently black is a sad indication of the character of the person. I have had a similar experience recently in my own circle. I belong to a black caucus, I chaired it for six years as a matter of fact. One person who rarely came to meetings, never had anything to add, never commented on any issues concerning black people, never stood up for any social justice issue that came across her path, recently got into some difficulty–difficulty caused by her own mouth and the use of language she should not have used, and the first person she called for succor was the current chair of the caucus. This was the same chair whose phone calls and email messages she had been ignoring for weeks btw.But now that she was in trouble, hello!, call the black folks to come stand with me! After all, I am black too, although I have been the master’s tool for so long I have forgotten how to not shuck and jive when he is in the room!

I am tired of folks who are running away from their race, repudiating their identity and trying as hard as they can to “pass,” even if they cannot pull it off with skin tone they try their best to pull it off by being as agreeable and docile as they can, running back into the shelter of the black community as soon as they get into trouble. Now, there are some black people who actually believe that if you are wealthy and quiet and do not cause any trouble you will be almost totally considered to be white, or at least colorless.Those folks I have less contempt for, they are simply deluded and when they hit the wall, as so many of them eventually do, they are rather pitiful.

The black who knows like OJ, Cain and my colleague, that being black comes with a certain amount of baggage no matter what, and yet still try to convince everyone that race and racism are not important and that they are personally above all that are the ones that I have nothing but contempt for. They are scary people, those who would rather climb a tree to lie than stand on the ground and tell the truth, and are to be avoided at all cost.

If I ever get into trouble and have to do what a lot of people call playing the race card, but I call pointing out racism even when it is not popular, I can at least be sure that everybody knew I was black all along, not just in times of trouble.

So to my Oreo brothers and sisters, if you get in trouble, don’t come knocking on my door, because nobody is home, not to you!


Posted by on November 4, 2011 in Uncategorized


3 responses to “The Convenient Black: The OJ syndrome

  1. Shawna Dunbar

    November 5, 2011 at 12:01 am

    very powerful Mrs. Newsom!

  2. James Gilmer

    November 30, 2011 at 1:05 am


    This is a particularly poignant piece. A clear description of nigrescence at work. Keep telling it like it is. I appreciate the work that you are doing.

    Best regards,
    Byron K. Ward


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