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Monday, June 12, 2006

Being A Black Man: An Agile Acrobat

Continuing in our existential exploration of Black Manhood I would suggest that in addition to being a tangible target the Black Man in America is of necessity an agile acrobat.

Say what?

As DP mentioned earlier, there is a paradoxical duality to the existence of Black Men in America that often tests the thresholds of a brother's sanity. We are at once celebrated and castigated, emancipated yet castrated. We have an internal drive for success but an external locus of control. We are free to pursue our dreams yet the object of those dreams is often an image that has been crafted by those who would keep us chained to the cave looking at our own shadows. We have to sow this into our psyche without becoming psychotic. This is why the Black man is angry. This is why the Black man will often act a fool. This is why every Black man can chant along with DMX, "Y'all gon' make me lose my mind! Up in here! Up in here!"

What's it going to take for folk to get The Message?

Being a Black man means that you have to balance being an intimidating presence and an irrelevant person. They see us, they fear us, and they discount anything that we have to say. We are intellectually irrelevant to the society at large, but we are physically intimidating to those same potatoes. People try to control that which they fear, and if they connot control it then they try to destroy it, just like King Kong - the ultimate Mandingo. Being a Black man means that we have to balance our actual independence with the projected perception that we are under control. Being a Black man means that I have had to dumb down around White coworkers in order to avoid being a threat, because they would have all ganged up on a (n-word) if he showed himself to be too smart - nobody likes a smart (n-word). Yet at the same time I can't play it too dumb where I become the stereotypical dumb-a (n-word).

An agile acrobat.

Understand, I only dumbed down when talking to these people casually. In meetings and especially at my workstation it's on, but not to the extent that it seems like I am trying to make them look ignorant - just enough to make my mark and to get things done better than anyone else. It's the super-negro principle - you have to be heads and shoulders above your White peers in order to be considered their peer. However, if you start leaping over buildings in a single bound then they'll gang up on your behind faster than a slew of speeding bullets. Being a Black man means that you have to find that balance and hold it - even as the sands are shifting beneath your shoes you have to be the most agile of acrobats, especially when dealing with Black Man Kryptonite.

Just ask Kobe.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 8:00 AM

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