Thursday, January 22, 2009

Change brings more of the same

In this article by Mr John Blake I felt the feelings of Barbara McKinzie echoed those of my own heart, yet were vastly underrepresented if not completely brushed aside as fiction.

What is wrong is the perception of the black family in America in the eyes of black Americans.

“Obama didn't shout at his wife, Michelle, to shut up. The first lady didn't roll her eyes and tell Obama to act like a man. No laugh track kicked in, no one danced, and no police sirens wailed in the background.”

Was any other black American offended by that? To think that the above is the default perceived behavior for a black American husband and wife? I am a black American male, and the above is anything but my vision of a black family in America. When did people lower their expectations to the point of accepting what was shown to them on TV as reality? I’m aware of the culture, the lingo, and stereotypes... I also live in the real world where none of that surrounds me. I don’t watch the programs that portray blacks in that light, nor do I listen to the music that reflects upon those aspects. Once all of that is trimmed away there is a plethora of outlets from black Americans that more realistically reflect my reality; material that I wouldn’t be ashamed to watch or listen to among non-blacks.

Of course the Obamas aren’t here to entertain us. The fact that anyone ever thought they were is degrading. Perhaps that's your point Mr. Blake, but I should hope not. The perception of the Obamas should not be that of a standard bearer for a new way of being in terms of how a black family is seen in America, rather it should reinforce all the good that so many blacks have achieved that goes unheralded. The standard of the Obamas as the ideal black American family exist in the eyes of many Americans today, black or otherwise.

“America has often viewed the black family through the prism of its pathologies: single-family homes, absentee fathers, out of wedlock children, they say.”

Without having demographics to support me, I’d go out on a limb and say that the average television show Mr. Blake referenced with the exception of “The Cosby’s” is marketed to black Americans and isn’t kept on the air by the legions of Caucasian viewers. So using the above quotation as an example, who exactly is, “America” referring to?

If the Obamas are to the be new stars of the ideal black family–as it seems they are destined to be–then I would be correct in thinking that any who support a media that sends up these pathologies ( all of which are negative ) would be in serious decline. Now that Obama is in office surely “America” will start thinking twice when ever these pathologies come up in the context of blacks on television or in print and ask themselves, “Gee, I wonder if Barack and Michelle would be watching this?”

I don’t know who the above “they” are but the pathological problems that plague many black families are averted by just as many others, furthermore there are many wonderful success stories from blacks that grew up with such pathologies, and overcame the difficulties.

This new version of black intimacy that so many in Mr. Blake’s article supported was borderline comical: what prey-tell was the old version? Please, spell it out for me. Intimacy is a word; a noun to be specific. The definition does not change with the modification of ethnicity. That intimacy is expressed differently in different races, I don’t doubt, but is their an American ideal of what intimacy is regardless of race, age, religion or possibly even pathological upbringings? It would seem that nouns are less affected by influence and prove to be more structurally sound than some would believe.

I feel Mr. Blake is deceiving himself if he truly believes the “street lit” he mentions is sold or read en masse by anyone other than blacks. “The American public” as he states is not subjected to “Project Chick.” Without any evidence to support me, I will affirm that the buyers of those books are predominately, if not exclusively, black. Black intimacy and the perception of the black American family does need to change; mainly in the eyes of black Americans. Most importantly I would state that this perception--be it by black Americans, “America” as so vaguely defined by Mr. Blake, or anyone else for that matter--needed to change regardless of President Obama. He has many burdens and he is not the President of black America, or “America”, rather all of us as a collective whole ( for those of you who don’t understand subtleties, the entire USA ).

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