"Black" = Unaccomplished?

I am starting to notice that the word “Black” in many people’s mind is synonamous with, “never accomplished anything.” Therefore, the moment a black person accomplishes anything, the ‘black’ label is removed from them. If that is the case, then it is a catch 22 isn’t it? Black people will never be able to say that they are successeful if ‘successful’ is defined as ‘non-black’.

In other words, the moment a black person has accomplished anything, it is said that they are not truly black. I am going to list some examples, but please keep in mind that I am *not * stating that I believe that every person or group that I mention is black…I am just listing common given examples that are commonly knocked down.

In fact, let’s name each position. Keisha Brown will list her beliefs of whom she considers black, Billy Jones will knock each one down.

At the end of this list, you may notice a pattern. It seems as if Billy is only willing to concede that the ‘unaccomplished’ is truly ‘black’.

KB: You know I hear that some of the ancient Egyptian empires were black.

BJ: No. They were not.

KB: I heard Jesus was black.*

BJ: No. He was not.

KB: It is great that Halle Berry won that Oscar, first black woman, blah, blah…

BJ: She’s not even black. She is barely black! Her mom is white, white, white…

KB: I think it’s great that human life began in Africa…

BJ: Well, actually those people were brown, not black…you know, the khoi…

KB: Well, the Ethiopian Empire standing for so many thousands of years…

BJ: Please! The Ethiopians are not black and they never were…

KB: Well I am hoping that Barack Obama will become the fir…

BJ: Not really Black.

KB: I gotta tell you, I think the hip-hop, culture with Graffiti and everything is gr…

BJ: Actually, I noticed that the Latino community had been the pioneers of graffiti.

KB: *Seriously?? *

And it goes on like this. I wonder if I am just being silly, which I am very willing to admit that may be the case. But it seems that on the rare occasion that a black person accomplishes things on a monumental scale, and it is indisputable that they are black, dark skinned, kinky haired, negroid nose, thick lips, descendents of slaves…when it is indisputable that they meet all of those standards, and they themselves identify as black, then it seems that they are hated by many.

Oprah Winfrey, Venus and Serena Williams, being the ones that I have in mind.

Yes Oprah’s fans are legion…but I think the Billy Jones of the world are likely to be the ones to hate her. I have nearly gone underground with my admiration for Oprah, because so many “intellectuals” have expressed venomous hate for her.

I know this is rambling as hell, but these ideas have been nagging at me for a long time, and I have always been afraid to express them in intelligent company, because I don’t want ridicule. I just want honest discourse, and if I am wrong, I am happy to admit I am wrong.

The dope has the intellectual heft and the kindness to allow me to discuss this, without making me feel like an idiot. But again…if it turns out I am an idiot, I am glad to learn better. Enlighten me.

** I have neither yay’d or nay’d any of Keisha’s statements above, but I do find it necessary to state that I do not think Jesus was black. Or that he was white either for that matter. Or Middle Eastern… Or even necessesarily ‘actually existed’ colored.*

I haven’t really noticed people losing the black label whenever they accomplish something. I have noticed that people being given the black label when it really has nothing to do with the situation. Such as "Black author Joe Smith said blah blah blah, about [issue that affects everyone of all races] or “Alice, an AA, won such and such award today”. It seems like people do it to prove blacks really can accomplish great things.

Moved from IMHO to GD.

Well, you know we all learned in elementary school that George Washington Carver was black and he invented peanuts (or something). Well loved during Black History Month by schoolchildren nationwide.

Which I guess illustrates your point.

(I admire Oprah as well - I figure if a overweight black women with a funny name who grew up poor can become successful, I really don’t have too many excuses in my life. That doesn’t mean I always agree with her or even like her).

Thinking about it more, I do remember people asking why we should consider Colin Powell black. I also remember someone asking people to name one successful black person with a non-mainstream name, then saying Condoleeza didn’t count. So, I do see what you’re talking about.

I love the Colin Powell and Condoleeza examples. I have heard Condi doesn’t count, and have always wondered why?

Dangerosa, I am an overweight black woman with a funny name. I guess I aint got no excuses either.

White people are afraid of black people.

I haven’t noticed it.

I’m not sure if you are serious. Care to expound?

Ethiopians weren’t black? (I know Egyptians weren’t generally or for the majority, but some were. right?) Now I knew that Cleopatra being black was a myth, but Halley Barry I consider black. Mixed black, but still black, same with Tiger Woods. Barak Oboma? How is he not black?

I guess everybody has opinions, and I would guess that a majority people saying “so and so isn’t truely black” are probably black themselves, and are somewhat proud of the fact that they come from a “pureblood” geneology. Saying they aren’t “pureblood” isn’t saying they aren’t black at all, IMO.

It’s been my experience, living in the Midwest in the U.S.A., that white people are, generally, afraid of black people.

IMO, “the dope” would like to think it has “heft”, but “it” has no such thing.

Don’t drink the kool-aid, k?

That hasn’t been my experience*. Blacks embrace the one drop rule as much as whites do, if not more. I have seen mixed race blacks downplay, or try to stop people from over-emphasizing their degree of blackness. Ex: Tiger Woods calling himself Cablinasian. I’ve seen more whites than blacks who wonder if Obama is black enough for black Americans.

So, I’m not talking for everyone here.

If you’re a lazy person who stills on their ass and complains that you can’t get a break because you are (fill in the blank) and then someone who is (fill it in again) comes along and gets the “breaks” by working hard, your only defense is "Well, they are not really (again with fill in the blank).

I am confused, is Colin Powell no longer considered “Black” or is he no longer considered “Accomplished”?

How about Denzel Washington, he seems to be universally considered accomplished by anyone that considers actors accomplished. James Earl Jones?

Why is Condi not considered? I don’t like or respect her, is she discounted for being tied to the Bush Admin?

Fessie, what you posted sounds terrible, but I think the terrible part, is that there is a lot of truth to it.

I know Tiger Woods does not consider himself an “African American” or “Black” so I think this would add to Nzinga, Seated fears.

I don’t think you are being silly, but I don’t think it is as bad as you think. I also don’t think it is all whites doing it. Obama does not seem to be accepted as “Black” by some “Black” leaders. If a successful “Black” person is a Republican, they appear to be considered traitors or acting “White” too often. The handful of “Black” baseball fans I regularly talk to don’t think of Derek Jeter as Black or Mixed, but just another white baseball player. This despite his (“Black” and successful Doctor) Father being shown on the air hundreds of times at this point in Jeter’s career.

I think there is some truth to your op, but I don’t think it is as bad as you seem to feel it is.


I’ve noticed this, too.

As I recall monstro commented on something similar, in a discussion or in an aside about Diamond’s treatment of “black Africans” in Guns, Germs, and Steel. Her opinion was that it was bothersome because he didn’t use this tact when discussing other peoples. Only the Africans had to be grouped into colors. The subtext (either intentional or not) was that such distinctions were necessary lest all Africans be mistaken for black. And God forbid that happens!

What I think its get down to is that some people have one image of a Black Person in their heads. Anyone who doesn’t conform to that image is either an exception or is “not really black”.

I’ve heard people say outright or imply that they find African-American women unattractive. The only way someone could say this is if they think they all look one particular way, which is ridiculous. Black folks are some of the most diverse looking people on the planet.

Annie-Xmas, why are we using this “(fill in the blank)” pretense? We are discussing blacks. You can go ahead, for the purposes of this thread, and use the word “black”.

While I understand the sentiment, I have trouble thinking of non-mixed race examples. The people in the OP are easily argued about because they’re not, in fact, entirely “black” unless you’re using outdated one-drop theories of race. If, like - well, like me, I guess - you’re using things like childhood neighborhood and peer group to determine someone’s likely socioeconomic environment and self-identified racial category and opportunities for education and advancement when they were growing up (as well as ancestry), then things get muddy pretty quickly.

I don’t doubt the existence of the phenomenon noted in the OP, but I mostly see it happen the other way - people who didn’t self-identify as black as children who become black when they become successful. The media loves an underdog story, even if they have to invent an underdog to write about - and they’ve decided that being black and being successful is more impressive than just being successful.

The ones I usually hear this about (Halle Berry, Barak Obama, Tiger Woods, Mariah Carey, etc.) are usually argued over because of mixed ancestry and a suspicion (or knowledge) that they were “raised white” by a white parent in a white neighborhood with white peers and then claim their blackness in order to sell music or movies or get put in the record books as the “first black to ______”. Of course, from a reporters’ viewpoint, it makes more sense to write a story about the first whatever to whichever - it has more of a hook than “person wins golf tournamnet.” But what seems to get people worked up is when it looks hypocritical or self-serving: Mariah Carey started out her career as a pretty generic white pop singer, until it became trendy to be “urban” and then suddenly she became black. Tiger Woods is at least as Asian as he his Black, but he’s called Black when it’s a congratulatory pat-on-the-nappy-head to do so. If I was in that situation, frankly, I’d be insulted. Far from meaning “unaccomplished”, referring to Tiger Woods as black strikes me as adding a extra dash of (condescending) awe - it’s amazing that a little black boy learned to play golf so well, 'cause golf isn’t “a black game.” :rolleyes:

Obama is a little different - he was raised “black” and married “black” and has always gone to a “black” church. Any perceived “whiteness” is a product of the media trying to create controversy and sell stories. They’ve, for whatever reason, tried to raise doubts that he’s “black enough” 'cause it gives the windbags something to shout about. And the fact that he’s articulate and - most importantly - doesn’t speak with a “black” dialect, means that people who don’t know his history think he’s one of the above - a person raised “white” who’s claiming to be black for a professional advantage. He’s not, but it’s a misconception that just won’t go away.

fessie, I understand the meaning of your comment, and I don’t disagree. I just wonder how you mean it to apply to this discussion. Are you saying that when someone becomes successful, we no longer fear them, so we don’t call them black?

Right. And it seems to me that that one image of a Black Person in their heads, changes based on what is accomplished by people that fit that image.

If I discovered the cure for every form of cancer tomorrow, there would be many finding reasons that I am not black. I can’t imagine what reason they would dream up for my black ass, but I can imagine them trying.

“If I discovered the cure for every form of cancer tomorrow, there would be many finding reasons that I am not black. I can’t imagine what reason they would dream up for my black ass, but I can imagine them trying.”

Who are “they” ?