‘There’s No Such Thing as an Honorary Black Person.’

19 Nov

Let’s clear a few things up:

I’m white. I’m Irish, English, Scottish and Dutch. My parents weren’t very religious, and since most of my family were 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants, we didn’t pass down any kind of cultural identity, other than the Southern thing. Quite literally, the only thing that both sides of my family have in common is moonshining, and that’s not something you all get together and talk about at Xmas.

In middle school, I was usually one of the few white kids in classes predominantly full of Hispanic or black children. I felt lonely, and I never seemed to know what was cool. I did make friends, but it was more a friendship of personality than shared interests. I made people laugh sometimes, and I had people to sit with at lunch, but when people started discussing movies or music, I might as well have been from another planet. And when you’re 12 in 1992, you didn’t just get on iTunes or Youtube and figure out what people are talking about. You had to go to the store and try to listen to the ‘Mature’ albums when the clerk wasn’t looking.

In college, I worked in a Chinese restaurant, where again, I was one of the few, if any, white people. I learned a lot about the restaurant business, and a few snippets of Chinese and Vietnamese culture. My generally odd personality was an endless source of amusement to the manager, Mr. Lee, and the cooks, who didn’t speak much English. Less welcome were the jokes one older cook would tell about me (in Cantonese) that made the other cooks uncomfortable–I never found out what he found so funny, but can hazard a few guesses.  Anyway, I digress.

In short, I know what it feels like to be different.

But I never for a moment imagine that I know what it feels like to be a minority.

Missing from Picture: An Actual Black Person

I can empathize, I can enjoy movies aimed at black or gay or hispanic or Asian audiences, I can explore other cultures than my own. I can read books, watch TV shows aimed at demographics that aren’t me, read blogs and editorials and listen to podcasts, but this does not mean I think I am being somehow included.

In short, there is no such thing as being an Honorary Minority.

There’s no secret handshake, there’s no jacket with your name embroidered on the back, there’s nothing that will make people instantly know that ‘you’re down.’

All you can do when you meet a person who is different from yourself is treat them the way you would want to be treated. They don’t want to emotionally validate you, they don’t want to let the rest of ‘their kind’ know that you’re cool, they might not even want to know you at all. Would you want to be expected to do that for every person who had experienced a tiny fraction of your way of life and imagined it to mean they knew you inside and out?

Now imagine, instead of it being a superficial thing, like the kind of music you’re into, or what kind of movies or food or clothes you like, that it’s something about yourself you can never change or hide. It’s with you always. You can’t buy a new outfit and be someone else, you can’t blast music from your car so the guy at the drive-thru thinks you ALWAYS listen to that band. It’s with you before you wake up in the morning, whether you wear business or casual, if you’re in the mood or not. In some ways, whether you wanted it or not, certain aspects of your identity were chosen for you–for the rest of your life.

This sounds weird, but its something that needs to be addressed and that I’ve been thinking about for some time.  I think people today are more passive than ever when it comes to facing their fears, or dealing with difficult issues. And difficult issues become easier to deal with if you make the effort. But if it takes more effort than liking it on Facebook, people don’t want to be bothered, it seems. And changing the way you think about things takes effort, it takes a BIG effort.

Anyway, that’s my soapbox speech. Let’s get back to the movies, right?

Advertisements

3 Responses to “‘There’s No Such Thing as an Honorary Black Person.’”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Some Helpful Links! « Late to the Theater - April 20, 2011

    […] ‘There’s No Such Thing as an Honorary Black Person’  – Entry detailing how the vicarious thrill that white people get from watching movies aimed at minority audiences does not come with a jacket and inclusion to that minority group. (P.S., I’m white!) Probably would also be enjoyed by fans of StuffWhitePeopleLike.com. […]

  2. Some Highlights! | Late to the Theater - March 4, 2015

    […] 3. ‘There’s No Such Thing as An Honorary Black Person’ […]

  3. Welcome! Please, Let Me Show You Around! | Late to the Theater - March 14, 2016

    […] There’s No Such Thing As An Honorary Black Person […]

... but what do YOU think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

indiescifi451.wordpress.com/

îndependent science fiction movies, reviewed and dissected ruthlessly.

One Working Mommy

I am one person, one wife, one Mommy working through it all.

J. A. Allen

Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins

AfroSapiophile

Intelligent Black Thought.

Writing Is Hard Work

Musings of a hard working writer.

Janet Carr @

This Bug's Life

I create worlds. John E. Brito's Blog

Behind the scenes of John E. Brito's animated and live action (short) films & comics

Josep Goded

Seeking Truth

Stuff White People Like

This blog is devoted to stuff that white people like

Dark Matters

For Well-Rounded Blerds and POC Nerds

Examining the Odd

literature, visual art, music and film

My Year Cooking with Chris Kimball

Recipes from Cook's Illustated, Cook's Country and America's Test Kitchen

The Entertainment Patrol (and general musings)

My musings about everything from entertainment to life!

Writer's Haven

Words from heart

Lovecraft eZine

Weird Fiction, Cosmic horror, and the Cthulhu Mythos

breaktimestories

Musings, Short stories, Inspiration.

BROTHA WOLF

Howling For Justice!

MyCreativeRamblings.org

“I used to want to be an astronaut, but astronauts don't even go to the moon anymore.”

BecomeBetty.com

Food, drinks, style, and humor

BaileyBee

The Hive

Carmilita's Handmade Jewelry

handmade bead jewelry

Mark My World

Hacking life while enjoying everything in between

Really Awful Movies

Horror Movies, Science Fiction, Exploitation, Action, Genre Films.

yaskhan

Poetry, free verse, haiku, senryu, photography, books, art, philosophy , nature.

TheWarner

Your Source for Honest Commentary and Reviews

Rob Powell Writes

Let's see where this goes, starting with some short stories and flash fiction.

Opinionated Woman

Opinionated women of the world, unite!

BayArt

New Perspective on Life

What's Your Chic?

Your Chic. Your Style.

Meditating Millennial

A Millennial's Journey Into Meditation and Mindfulness

SparkleWithUc

Leave a little sparkle wherever you go!

word and silence

poetry & prose by Tim Miller

Blog of the Dragon

Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire news, theories, and other nerdy goodness

LOWLIFE MAGAZINE

"Find what you love and let it kill you." – Charles Bukowski

tekehdddddddddddddddddddddddddddd.wordpress.com/

About life, the universe and everything

Londongrad

Erotica City of London Russia Confessions

The Gymternet

The ultimate gymnastics news. For the ultimate gym nerd.

witchlike

Exploring wise-craft and weirdness

CHILANGOGEEK

Hobbies, Comics, Customs & Peliculas

%d bloggers like this: