Skip to main content

Got this from the hamiltoncharles.com site. And I agree with every word he says.

THE ANTI-BLACK DEFAULT
Ever wonder - quietly to yourself, or angrily out loud - why it seems Black people have such a hard time getting it together? (Here's a hint: It's not that we're just plain triflin'.)

"He was real black, but fine as hell."
- A friend describing a cute guy. (Emphasis added.)

Truth is, virtually all people in the United States have a programmed anti-Black bias; and Black folks, as part time leaders, part time hostages of American culture, are no exception. It comes from ignorance of Black history and culture. It comes from confusing what's been done to Black people (violation, mythologizing, humiliation, stereotyping) with who we actually are. It comes from that sinking feeling, after a night of watching rap videos and local news or looking at the incarceration statistics, that maybe Black people really are beyond help. And it comes from a steady diet of negative images and stereotypes of Black folks - some of which we tragically perpetuate - that have convinced the world that we ain't s**t. Black folks, like everyone else in the culture, are set to an anti-Black default.

Default: ( dE-folt ) a selection automatically used by a computer program in the absence of a choice made by the user. Webster's Third Int'l Dictionary.

An anti-Black default is just what it implies, except that the computer in question is the human mind: It is an anti-Black interpretation made by a human being without having to think twice. The brain automatically seeks the most cynical and anti-Black interpretation of every phenomenon - even if it's utterly idiotic. First, random information is input. Then, the anti-Black default processes it. Finally, the mind set to an anti-Black default comes to an anti-Black conclusion. Although generalizations can be rooted in truth and are often quite useful, the relentlessly derogatory stereotypes rooted in the anti-Black default have a corrosive effect on relations between Black people.

Here's how the anti-Black default works. Is your Black friend late to a meeting? "You know Black folks always late." Did your Black man cheat on you? "Girl, I told you ni**as ain't s**t." Is your Black girlfriend angry when you come home late all the time? "Black women are so domineering - that's why I date white women." Keep in mind that the things you say because of the anti-Black default don't have to be true or make sense. They just have to trivialize, demean, make fun of, or assume the worst about Black people.

Joanna and her friend arrive early for the 6:30 screening of Alien 16 at the Magic Johnson Theaters, where virtually all the patrons are Black. There are 50 or 60 people already seated throughout the theater. Joanna and her friend take seats in the middle of the sixth row and wait as the seats fill up around them. By 6:30, most of the seats are full. Ten minutes later, the previews are over and the movie has just begun when a Black family of four runs breathlessly down the aisle, looking for empty seats. They spot four empty chairs just past Joanna, and squeeze past her, spilling popcorn and momentarily distracting her from the opening credits. Joanna leans to her friend and stage whispers, "CP [colored people] time...I swear ni**as'll be late to they own funeral." Her friend concurs with a loud "Mm hmmm."

Joanna and her friend's response show the anti-Black default in its classic formation - illogical, hateful and contagious. Illogical because far more Black people (50 or 60) were early than late, which logically suggests that Black folks are likelier to be early than late. Hateful because, without knowing anything about the latecomers, Joanna reduces them to symbolic "ni**as", so trifling and so incapable of being on time that they'll be late to their own funerals. And it's contagious because Joanna and her friend's anti-Black consensus is uttered within earshot of impressionable young people. Even worse, because such anti-Black distortions are rarely challenged or contradicted, they might as well be true.

While a properly configured mind could interpret Joanna's experience in the theater in countless ways, the anti-Black default only allows for interpretations that disrespect Blacks as a whole. Therefore it is not possible that the family got caught behind a jackknifed truck on the freeway, or that they're usually on time, but just late today. It is not possible that Black people are as likely to be early as late. The anti-Black default does not allow these possibilities because it interprets everything Black people do in the worst possible light. Ordinary human mistakes committed by a Black person get re-imagined as "typical" examples of Black failure. Every minor infraction or disappointment by a Black woman or man becomes proof positive that "ni**as ain't s**t."

Our anti-Black defaults are programmed early.

Tony Jr. is a 9-year-old African American boy full of curiosity and promise. More than anything, Tony Jr. idolizes his father and enjoys listening to his father talking to his friends - it makes him feel like a grown up. The men are discussing a newspaper ad that encourages Blacks to support Black businesses, and a spirited argument ensues. The guys turn to Tony's dad - who can always be counted on to stay calm and make sense - for his opinion. "I agree with supporting Black businesses," Tony Sr. begins, "but we don't always give the best service. Like, last time I tried to buy a suit at a Black store, the salesman had an attitude problem. I swear, we're our own worst enemy sometimes."

Without meaning any harm, Tony Sr. is teaching his son that supporting a Black business should be done cautiously and is inherently riskier than the unspoken opposite, buying white. In that circle of grown Black men, there is no mention of how hard it is for some Black entrepreneurs to get capital - and total amnesia about the times Black businesses gave any of them superior, personalized service. And Tony Sr. does not have a similarly cynical perspective about Barneys, Abercrombie & Fitch or Neiman Marcus, where salespeople are far more likely to have an attitude problem and treat Black shoppers like criminals. Although Black people have routinely been humiliated at Denny's, Eddie Bauer, Nissan Finance, and...well...so many places owned by non-Blacks, Tony Sr. never discourages his friends or associates from "shopping white".

That insistence on treating Black shortcomings as conclusive "see-what-I-mean" proof of Black inferiority, while easily forgiving White misdeeds or treating them like anomalies, is a red-flag symptom of the anti-Black default. Sometimes, people try to justify this by saying "well, I expect more of Black people." But the flip side of that logic is that as a result of this so-called higher standard, under which every Black business mis-step "proves" something negative about Black people, many Black businesspeople have begun to expect cynicism or worse treatment from Black customers. And so the cycle continues.

"I got this African chick with Eddie Murphy on her skull/she like, 'Jigga Man, why you treat me like animal?'/I'm like excuse me Miss Fufu, but when I met your ass/you was dead broke and naked, and now you want half." - Girls, Girls, Girls by Jay-Z

Because Black people are brilliant and creative even under the worst circumstances, we have turned pig guts and anti-Blackness into chitlins and comedy. (Think about how often the dozens begin with "yo momma's so black.") Sadly, our children are listening to and imitating us supposedly grown folks. Although Black children are born with open, unbiased minds, by the time they go to kindergarten and before they've ever met a white person, most have already overheard countless shrill hateful commentaries that pass for "truth" or "humor" about Black people: Black men ain't s**t; Black women are gold-diggers; ni**as are trifling; you can't rely on Black people; Black folks'll be late to they own funerals; you need to beat Black kids' asses (get me a switch!); Black women can't be trusted; Black people can't get along; Black men cheat; Black businesses are substandard; nappy hair is bad hair; she got good hair; light skin is the right skin; Black and Ugly mean the same thing; there's an inverse relationship between n**as and flies. Any evidence to the contrary is often treated like an exception to the anti-Black rule.

"Hair nappy, but I'm happy, pocket full o' dough."
- Bow Wow (That's My Name) by Li'l Bow Wow

By the time Black people choose our first lovers, decide what job to take, consider where to buy a house, how to style our hair, or whether we want anything to do with the Black community, we have learned these anti-Black lessons well. Those lessons reside stubbornly in our subconscious, where they sabotage friendships, marriages, parenting and our capacity to contribute to Black progress or resist white supremacy. With the anti-Black default firmly in place, it's no mystery why some collective Black efforts are less powerful and less effective than they ought to be. The anti-Black default can make trust between Black people scarcest when the stakes are highest.

So what do we do? As grim and depressing as this may sound, all is not lost. In spite of the anti-Black "matrix" into which most people are born, we can resist anti-Black programming by questioning everything we think is true about Black folks.

As an initial exercise, every time you say or think something negative about Black people (or ni**as), stop and ask yourself eight questions: (1) Is it always true? (2) Is the opposite also true? (3) Does it apply to me too? (4) Can I prove it, or am I just running my mouth? (5) Could it be, or is it, true for any other ethnic group? (6) What is the point? (7) Whom does it benefit? (8) Where did I learn it? (To see how the exercise works, use it to challenge the anti-Black assumptions discussed earlier in this article.)

I also never talk about Black problems without seeking a solution that I can be a part of. Cataloguing the laundry list of Black problems and "what's wrong with Black folks" is an international pastime and pays the mortgage for quite a few commentators and professional conference organizers. But I'm contributing nothing new unless I am part of the solution. Now, this one is hard to do, because sometimes what feels like a solution is actually another complaint. For example, your concern may be that poor Black folks need to stop having babies they can't afford. But guess what? Saying that "Black folks need to get it together" is not a solution. It's part of the downward spiral of anti-Black complaint that will not change "problem the first."

Change the station or turn it off. If your family ingests a steady diet of NASTV (i.e., Ni**as Ain't Sh*t Television), turn it off. If the Black images you see in the movies lack the humanity and dimension of your daily life, do not watch. If you don't have the time to monitor your children's TV, turn off the cable. (Yeah, I said it!) Even in this brave new world, there are books to read, and family conversations that can begin when the TV is silent. Find a safe public park where you can spend the afternoon with friends. Read an article in a magazine or on the Internet and talk about it with your kids. If nothing on the radio encourages you to love yourself or other people, then change stations.

We can reprogram our default settings; but because anti-Black hostility is everywhere, we must make a conscious and continuous effort to do so. The payoff is enormous for so many reasons, the least of which is that Black people would be freer to love and develop ourselves, instead of spending valuable time and money trying to prove that we are somehow different from the rest of "them ni**as." Good luck to us!
---------------------------------------------- College = being broke for 4 years
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

quote:
Originally posted by caribbeanflavored:

Change the station or turn it off. If your family ingests a steady diet of NASTV (i.e., Ni**as Ain't Sh*t Television), turn it off. If the Black images you see in the movies lack the humanity and dimension of your daily life, do not watch. If you don't have the time to monitor your children's TV, turn off the cable. (Yeah, I said it!) Even in this brave new world, there are books to read, and family conversations that can begin when the TV is silent. Find a safe public park where you can spend the afternoon with friends. Read an article in a magazine or on the Internet and talk about it with your kids. If nothing on the radio encourages you to love yourself or other people, then change stations.




Great post! appl

PS: you need to fix your avatar ...
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:
quote:
Originally posted by caribbeanflavored:

Change the station or turn it off. If your family ingests a steady diet of NASTV (i.e., Ni**as Ain't Sh*t Television), turn it off. If the Black images you see in the movies lack the humanity and dimension of your daily life, do not watch. If you don't have the time to monitor your children's TV, turn off the cable. (Yeah, I said it!) Even in this brave new world, there are books to read, and family conversations that can begin when the TV is silent. Find a safe public park where you can spend the afternoon with friends. Read an article in a magazine or on the Internet and talk about it with your kids. If nothing on the radio encourages you to love yourself or other people, then change stations.




Great post! appl

PS: you need to fix your avatar ...


yeah, I know. I keep trying to fix it but it ends up more messed up than before.
quote:
Originally posted by caribbeanflavored:
As an initial exercise, every time you say or think something negative about Black people (or ni**as), stop and ask yourself eight questions: (1) Is it always true? (2) Is the opposite also true? (3) Does it apply to me too? (4) Can I prove it, or am I just running my mouth? (5) Could it be, or is it, true for any other ethnic group? (6) What is the point? (7) Whom does it benefit? (8) Where did I learn it? (To see how the exercise works, use it to challenge the anti-Black assumptions discussed earlier in this article.)


Great exercise! I think I'll try this the next time I visit my local library. Smile Seriously though, the truth is, people make observations about our behavior, image, speech, and body language, whether we like it or not. If we don't have frequent contact with a certain group of people, then we make connections and draw conclusions about a group based on the few encounters that we've had. Some of our conclusions are based in reality, most of them are not.

I don't know if you've had the chance to visit the thread entitled, Sister, but in this thread, I describe a hostile encounter that I recently had with two young women whose behavior was inappropriate for a library setting. I made an observation about these two young women that was based not just on that one, brief encounter, but on many encounters I've had with women of similar ages and backgrounds. I grew up in an urban, predominately Black, poor city, so I've enountered girls like this before. Growing up, I've been in fights with them. So I strongly believe that some of our "anti-black default" observations are warranted. And instead of overlooking this behavior when we see it and pretending as if it does not exist, we need to call it out and do something about correcting it.

By now, some readers are probably saying to themselves, "Well White and Asian groups have their share of rebellious and violent teens as well." This is true, but whenever I go out into public, I do not see their youth behaving this way. And I don't reside in a predominately White or Asian community either, so I cannot be concerned about what goes on in those communities. I can only be concerned about what takes place in my community, not anyone elses. And it is everyone's right to be able to visit public places and community centers without having their lives threatened or having people to tell them to kiss their asses. And I won't allow this kind of behavior to go on either.
Last edited {1}
Hows this for irony? I'm with my sister and my cousin(female) earlier today. They were discussing money problems and then issues with men or something when I overheard alot of the things brought up in the article. Since I had the article before we got together, I started shaking my head. They asked me what was up and I just waved it away. Yeah, I will admit the program sub routines run deep.....
As I see it, the problem with this article is Mr. Charles using cultural "anti-Black programming" to explain what is often nothing more than a tendency for people to use a type of "verbal shorthand," or a tendency toward rhetorical exaggeration. Unflattering overgeneralizations about one's self-proclaimed demographic are not usually pronouncements of the belief that a whole group is guilty of the offending behavior. Rather, those exaggerations are usually the way people express that they believe certain behaviors are more prevalent among their own than should be the case.

Need an example? Try this:

Why are Black people always hollering about being "disrespected?" Are Black folks "disrespect-ophobic", crazy or both?

These are Hamilton Charles's own words as taken from his website.

Frankly, I consider the illustrations Mr. Charles uses in his article to be rather weak. It would have been, for example, more challenging for his movie theater scenario to have addressed the stereotype that Black people like to talk during movies. I would have found the use of that example particularly prescient since, on the night before reading Carribeanflavored's post, I had cause to leave a movie theater during the opening scenes of Lady in the Water because of the incessant chattering of three Black teenaged girls.

My date had two free-passes for use at a particular chain of movie theaters. We had put off using the passes on several occasions primarily because we thought there was a high probability that we'd experience some sort of disruptive behavior were we to see certain movies at certain theaters which attracted a predominance of Black patrons. On Friday night, our plans for the evening made a particular theatre a convenient choice, so we decided to use the passes. As I already stated, we left within minutes of the start of the film: the one girl's T-Mobile Sidekick was more interesting to her and her friends than was the movie.

The next night, Saturday , the two of us saw A Scanner Darkly among a virtually silent, predominantly white audience. And yes, that was exactly the outcome we expected.

Mr. Charles, or anyone else for that matter, is free to believe that my (valid) expectations were "programmed" into my subconscious. But the fact is that my expectations are bourne out of fully-conscious access to a longitudinal reference about how certain people tend to behave. And if I had been programmed, it wouldn't be the result of me having internalized a litany of unflattering overgeneralizations about Black people; I haven't had any prolonged exposure to people who made a habit of making any such overgeneralizations (that being an interesting point as Mr. Charles seems to assume that Black people are, during their formative years, necessarily exposed to such "programming." Is that apparent assumption an example of the "Anti-Black Default" in action?) I didn't have to believe that every Black person in the theater was going to talk or cause some other disruption (like the obligatory presence of the crying baby, the cell-phone talker, the seat kicker, etc.), nor did I have to believe that people of other races don't also behave rudely. My avoidance was based on the (substantially) higher probability of experiencing these disruptions amid a group of Black moviegoers.

To the extent that Mr. Charles identifies a hyper-vigilance, and/or a hypersensitivity among Blacks regarding the behavior of other Blacks, I think he's got a point. But he could have just as easily attributed that hypersensitivity to the reasonable concern that the failing of some black people reinforces already pervasive negative stereotypes. Instead, HE defaulted to the all-too-common tendency to trace the origin of Black people's problems, not back to those who fail to meet higher standards of conduct, but rather back to those who complain about that failure.

If someone were to summarize a similar set of expectations by stating that "Black people don't know how to act at the movies," I'd know that it wasn't an assertion which should be taken literally, and I would have to acknowledge the truth which underlies the rhetorical delivery.

But then I must assume that Mr. Charles understands this, or else he is guilty of the very "anti-Black" tendencies against which he has cautioned us.

Add Reply

Post
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×