Black Boy, there are three colors in the United States that you will have to contend with for the remainder of your life. Black, white, and green. –Frankie Lulu Payne
When my grandmother told me that at the age of 13 I stopped in my tracks. I did not question her. We could not do that, of course, anyway – but I did secretly wonder if she was right and/or would be right one day.
After living this life as a BLACK man for almost 40 years I have aggressively, some say militantly, bounced back and forth with my thought processes regarding race in America. No matter where I have traveled for work all around the world (except Africa) I was reminded that America’s problems to some degree go back to its horrendously corrupt and brutal foundation. I was also reminded that being a Black American is a huge responsibility (Notice ‘black’ before American? I am black before anything else in the United States.) One day you are saying to yourself, ‘No, it is not about race.’ The next day you are thinking to yourself, ‘Now, dang it – it is about race.’ The ‘its’ could be any occurrence that reminds us (black people) that we are of darker skin and the fact that living in North America has and will continue to be a racial struggle for black people no matter who becomes president of this Union.
Many times I did what countless black people (non-ruffling of white feathers black folk) suggested I do: “Don’t always think that it is about race. Move on. Transcend race.” White people have conveniently told me this in some capacity too; and I listened.
Because I wanted to be viewed as someone who is/was not hung-up on race. Not identified as a Race Baiter with a Race Card (http://jasonjeffrey.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/racecard.jpg). I can say now, that taking this thought to be helpful advice was somewhat of a mistake. Not intellectually harmful – but an emotional mistake. My mind each and every time should have calmly reverted back to my grandmother’s message:
Black, White, and Green.
It is unfortunate that many of us black people ‘sing and dance’ to the tune of what some white people think and believe. Some white people believe that we are imbeciles. Others believe that we are God’s creation…too. Their thought patterns that later become ‘valued’ opinions have been sanctioned by black people. Taken to be The Word.
So, when Jimmy Carter (a man raised by black woman) says that racism plays a major role in the opposition and antagonism President Obama is receiving, black people have once again bounced back to the following:
It is about race.
Carter: Racism plays major role in opposition to Obama - CNN.com
Over the past two weeks, I have made it my mission to sit and chat with random white folk just to conduct an assessment on this race issue: Our President is Black. What I discovered was interesting. Many white folk communicated to me the following.
‘I wish some of us white people would get over it. Our president is black. We need to just accept it and respect the man.’
Once again, this was my cue to definitely bounce back.
I, with embarrassment, thank these white people for giving me and other black folk the okay to acknowledge that
It is about race.
We still Singing and Dancing!
Written by Brian E. Payne.