Commentary Jamaica Magazine

Double Standards…boiling it down to Black and White

Written by S. M.Williams

You know black people sometimes aggravate me and I realize that I’m breaking the holy grail of keeping all negative speak about my race in silence; but really sometimes they are just plain silly. Today I’m getting my nails done and watching HLN ( a network I only ever see at the nail salon) and there’s a story about a step team (white) that has to share the winning award with another step team. So this seems simple right? Hmm, so not so. “Stepping” is a black sorority and fraternity tradition. I learned about it when I moved to this country and it was one of the best parts of college. I had no interest in joining a sorority (but if I had to make a choice, I’m a Delta kinda girl), but I certainly did love a step show. And we would travel long distances to watch step shows. We went to school in N Miami but would travel to UM and FAU to watch our favorite step teams. Because stepping is traditionally and “all black” thing, it’s almost viewed as if these girls could not possibly win the competition. So I watched their performance and truth be told, they were FLAWLESS. The advantage that they might have had over the sistas is that they’d probably trained in both dance and gymnastics and so rather than their steps being raw and dynamic, they were sharp, clipped and precise. They moved perfectly in unison and I saw no flaws in their routine. However, because they were the wrong race, there was this whole debate and it ended up that even though they WON, they were later told about “scoring discrepancies “ which meant they shared the award with another team – an “all black” team. Both teams got the scholarship money; but I’m sure they still felt slighted. The good that came out of this I suppose is that these white children finally felt the sting of unfair treatment because of their race….that whole thing about walking a mile in someone else’s moccasins.

However, on the flipside is the utter hypocrisy of my black folks. If I’m gonna call out others, then I need to be willing to call out my own. AND THAT is a cardinal sin in the black community. We are never ever supposed to say anything to “drag down” our race. It’s not like we have to say anything, our stupidity and our often inability to focus on the big picture does that for us daily. However, we need to stop with the hypocrisy. We cannot be pissed with white people who refuse to let us into their golf clubs, schools, businesses and organizations if we choose to padlock the doors to our own. Black people want to drag down the walls of every “white” establishment and conqueor new vistas. I have no complaints with this; but if we are going to demand that “whitey” open up all of their previous all white bastions to our entry, then can we really be that protective about “stepping, jazz, rap music, soul or R&B music?”

Then there is the controversy about the movies we are in or the shows about us. People are annoyed because of “Precious” because it portrays us in a negative light. I have one question – is that a reality in our community? Then why are we ashamed of it? Maybe if we shine a light of the squalor and degradation in our community, we might feel compelled to actually fix it. Spike Lee is up in arms about Tyler Perry and his TBS comedies because they are buffoonery. Apparently, the only acceptable black comedies are shows like the Cosby show which showcase us at our best. But is that the reality of our existence? Quite frankly, Tyler’s success is BECAUSE of his accurate representation of large facets of black life. In “Why Did I get Married” he did a phenomenal job of looking at black marriages in ALL of their states. In “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” he showed the redeeming power of black love to elevate a woman out of depression and insecurity to happiness and contentment. In every single Madea-related movie, he shows the power of black families and how those families are an integral part of how black people get their values and how family is indelibly a part of black life. Even his buffoonery comedies showcase this – where’s the issue with this? We are hypocritical if we chose only to showcase HALF of who we are.

White people aren’t focused on just the “good” stories. Half the movies that come out about white life are quite frankly crappy. If we look at some of the TV shows out there, they portray white women as little more than addle headed sex crazed morons little. They bedhop (let’s talk about Cougar Town); they are murderers (every version of CSI, NCIS and Law and Order); and chronic liars. Psyc is funny as hell but is about a man who lies for a living in cahoots with the police department. Really? And we are worried about “Meet the Browns” because Mr. Brown is a tacky dresser and a bit of an idiot. Don’t all of us have a family member who we jokingly know is the missing idiot for some unsuspecting village? So Tyler Perry did a show about this crazy member of the family…what’s the big freaking deal?

We have much bigger problems than whether or not a group of white girls performed better than the black girls in a step show. Maybe, just maybe they worked harder? Cheerleading and dance competitions are arduous. Figure skating and gymnastics require years of practice to perform in a single Olympic or medal event. Black people have not had access to the kinds of funds for these types of trainings so we ‘ve excelled in areas where “natural” talent are allowed to flourish such as track and field, football and basketball. But sports like tennis and golf only have a few who look like us because we don’t often have the wherewithal to explore those options. So the fact that these white girls might have been better than the black girls is in my mind quite possible and quite likely probable. But hey, that’s just my feelings and does not represent the opinions of this station or any of its affiliates.

People don’t even realize that black people do not have the universal right to vote in this country. The Voting Rights Act is what gives us the right to vote and it was recently up to be re-signed. Note to self: check on the status of that. We are underserved in this country with regards to employment and healthcare. Traditionally, we hold more lower paying jobs that our white counterparts. By 2050, black people will no longer be the largest minority in this country, that honor will go to our Hispanic and Latino brethren, and so our concerns will be pushed even further down the social ladder of importance if we don’t get our patooties into gear. So can we focus on more critical things than a dance completion?

We have work to do in this country and that work is not helped by Michael Steele, a black man who is the Chairman of the Republican National Committee who gets no respect from his party and seems quite out of touch with the reality of the plight shared by the plight of the majority of his race in this nation. So if anyone thinks that I plan to be silent about my aggravation with the state of black people or the fact that my own people refuse to face up to our reality and do something about it, then they have another thing coming.

About the Author:
S. M. Williams is a Jamaican education professional who lives in South Floria.

About the author

S. M.Williams