Sunday, April 5, 2009

the *real* dichotomy.

Ever since I was a little high yella (magic!) girl, I was consistently confronted with poignant affirmations of how Holy shit, I'm black I was. They still happen to me today as a 28 year old woman, though much less frequently and perhaps with less vehemence, because at some point growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, I actually got it. 
Even so, I guess every once in a while I need a friendly reminder. Like the one I got from this 83 year old woman this past Friday night, when I was back in Salisbury, NC attempting to share something of value to the graduating theatre students at my alma mater. I was exiting the Piedmont Players theatre having just watched "Smokey Joe's Cafe" with my friends when someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was a very old white woman with a very sweet smile on her face.
"With hair like that I bet you could get on stage and sing real good just like them!" she said.
And then I remembered...
Holy shit, Im black!
What you mean to say, I thought to myself with my lips spread apart in the biggest eat shit smile I could muster for her, was that you are not fooled by me; even with my skin so high yella (magic) light you, can still tell that I am Negro enough to be able to muster a Jennifer Hudson-esque wail from my tiny frame. 
(She's wrong, but whatever).
I thanked her, spittle forming at the corners of my mouth in antagonism, and my white friends and I bolted away from her so that we could bust out laughing in peace. We were only about 10 feet away from her, but she probably couldn't hear well anyways.
What is more dynamic to me than being reminded of my Holy shit, Im blackness is the reverse truth that I am sometimes confronted with. 
Today, walking down the street from the gym in the clothes I had quickly thrown on to keep me warm in the breezy afternoon, a young-ish woman passed by me, pointed at my shirt and said "I LOVE your shirt!" Claire and I glanced down to see what I was wearing, and were horrified to find that it said "Smile, God Loves You!"
"Oh no, Claire!" I said. "I feel like an asshole, now; she really thinks I mean that!", which I don't.
Claire's eye got wide as she shrieked at me "Holy crap, you're white!"
You see, black people don't wear shirts to be ironic- when you see a screen print of Patrick Swayze or a candycane or a big sneaker emblazoned on a black person's chest, it means that black person really likes that thing on his or her shirt. White people originated the practice of ironic t-shirt wearing; black people don't have time for that. 
So, I am mostly Holy shit, Im black, but occasionally I am Holy crap, Im white, much to my (white) mother's chagrin. I'm trying to figure out how to break it to her that I want to get a Toyota Prius in the near future. It might just put her over the edge. 


  1. wow, you are so silly! I totally feel you on that thought!

  2. Your Holy Shit! I'm white t shirt observation is right on the money. Black folks don't wear clothes to be ironic. How ever I think we need to have more cynicism in our daily lives.

  3. Holy shit, white people do that?

    I'm a banana; yellow on the outside, white on the inside, or so my friends would probably say in high school.

    I should probably go out and get myself a Billy Ray Cyrus shirt.