“Wonderful White” and “Bad Black”
Over the weekend I viewed an episode of Law & Order in which a wife was killed and the husband was accused of her murder…sounds familiar doesn’t it. I am sure it does, but as usual there was a wonderful twist in the plot that takes this storyline from the generic husband kills wife over (insert motif here), to wow that was a surprising twist to that story. In this particular episode the wife had actually been killed by the husband’s ex-wife because she did not want the current wife to change her mind about giving her child up for adoption. Did I lose you? Well to make a very long, interesting story, short and sweet, the husband was African-American but had been passing for white for the majority of his life and the baby he and his wife had recently given up for adoption had been black; and I don’t mean pale, Colin Powell black, I mean Hershey’s Kiss, James Brown black. When the uppity, white, ex-wife found out about this chocolate baby, she was enraged when she found out that her ex-husband and his wife had decided to cancel the adoption plans and regain custody of their brown baby. This would ruin the ex-wife’s whitewashed world and now all of her uppity friends would know that she had once been married to a black man and that oops she also had a black child (yes, she too had a child with the “passer” but their son looked Caucasian) To stop the secret from being revealed, the ex-wife gave the current wife a swift push over the balcony resulting in her death.
This got me to seriously thinking about something the ex-wife said as she was being charged for the murder. She said that she did not want her son to have to face life as a Black person. Basically she said that black men have it much harder than white men. They are not offered the same opportunities. They are looked over for jobs that they are better or equally qualified for. They are accused of snatching up innocent little white women and killing their children. They are harassed, profiled and targeted by the police and shot for even flinching when pulled over for random traffic stops. Sadly, black men are often treated as if each and every one is a criminal and they are discriminated against in just about every aspect of life. The mother in this episode of Law & Order did not want her son to have to face life being stereotyped and discriminated against because now he was no longer “Safe White.” He would now be “Bad Black” and being “Bad Black” would mean that her son would not get a fair shake in life. He would lose his white privilege.
Of course she didn’t say all of that, but I can imagine that any white person faced with suddenly having to be black would envision the list of things attached with being “Bad Black” named and would quickly realize that black is not what they wanted to be. All of this makes me think back to the lectures on white privilege given byanti-racist writer and educator, Tim Wise that I listened to for my African-American Studies class. To hear Mr. Wise, a white man, acknowledge and speak on white privilege and inequality was hard-hitting for me. It is not very often that white people acknowledge the very evident privileges that they often encounter just because they are white.
Now personally I have been black my entire life, have lived in the South my entire life and have experienced my fair share of racism, so I can truly understand why a person who wasn’t black wouldn’t choose to be if they had a choice. But I wouldn’t trade being Black for anything in the world. I love being black; the many shades and hues of our skin, the history of our people, the richness of our culture and the journey and destinations we have yet to encounter and conquer. The blackness of my black is outstanding. It is luminous and strong. I am definitely a fan of being black.
But, have you ever taken the time to think about how other races feel when it comes to not being black? Do you think they feel like the wife from Law & Order and couldn’t imagine having to live life in skin that was any shade of brown? Do you think that people of other races ever sit back and breathe a sigh of relief thanking God that they are not black? Maybe while watching the news or witnessing “blackness” in their own environments, make this thankfulness even stronger. Being aware of what African-Americans have had to conquer from slavery to now, do you blame them for being happily white? Why wouldn’t they warmly accept the birth right of being a “Wonderful White” instead of a “Bad Black”?
For those people who are African-American, but have been able to pass as White, I am sure there have been many times when they felt ashamed and maybe even disappointed in themselves, but with the path that African-Americans have had to trod, maybe being able to be seen by the world as white was an opportunity that these people were thankful for.
It really gave me something to think about. However being black is something I take pride in. I ♥ Black
Posted on January 25, 2011, in BLACK (history, life, culture etc), From Television, History, I ♥ Black, Race Matters, The Issues and tagged Adoption, African American Studies, African Americans, Black People, Discrimination, Divorce, I ♥ Being Black, Inequality, Law & Order, murder, Passing, Race, Racism, Racist, slavery, Tim Wise, White Privilege. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.