Myth #1: All black men are loud.
I can’t tell you the number of times people claim I’ve tried to scare them by appearing out of nowhere. Truth is I’m light of foot, and I don’t even realize I make no sound when I approach most times. And I guess it is somewhat ironic considering I’m 6 foot 4 1/2 inches, I weigh over 200 pounds, and I’m a black man. Maybe I’m the quietest black man in America.
Myth #2: All black men have rhythm.
Watch the film, and you’ll see that this just cannot be true. What film? Well, pretty much any home movie featuring the dance stylistics of yours truly. I’ve studied the dance moves of the greatest: Astaire, Mr. Bojangles, Michael Jackson, and even Psy (of Gangnam Style fame), but somehow it all looks the same when I try to do it, like a seal flopping around attempting to catch some fish for the long winter ahead.
Myth #3: All black men have a code.
The special handshake, the odd phrasing, and the instant familiarity even when you’ve never met another black man before, that’s what I’m faced with day in and day out (at least on the days when I see other black men — it’s not every day). Luckily the handshake has gone out of fashion lately, replaced with a head nod (up, not down), so I can do that, but I’ll never understand the odd phrasing (damn straight, boo), and yeah, I just met you, so how can we be familiar? Because somewhere in both of our histories we come from slaves? Or from Africa? Um.
Myth #4: All black men are good at sports.
This has been perpetuated more and more lately since we’ve been “allowed” to integrate into the major sports like basketball, football, baseball, and yes, even hockey. Black guys are even playing soccer, but that doesn’t mean we’re all sports gods. Quite the contrary. For every one black guy who can throw a touchdown pass are about a thousand of us who are lucky we don’t drop our coffee cups on the way back to the living room.
Myth #5: All black men have nicknames.
Jimbo. Sleepy Shawn. Wild Bill. Boom Boom. Lil’ Boom Boom. Too often black men’s mamas name them one thing but call them another. Then they pick up another moniker on the playground or the basketball court, and it sticks. So for all the people who know this one guy by “Bucket Head,” there’s a whole bunch of others who call him “Moody Tre.” But for every black man who has a nickname there are maybe 10 others who just have weird names that are actually on their birth certificates.
Myth #6: All black men are deadbeats.
I’ll admit that a ton of black guys aren’t holding up their end of the bargain when they get a woman pregnant. It’s your kid, then you need to be involved, no matter how you feel about your baby mama. But that’s not just a black man thing. That’s a deadbeat man thing, and it needs to stop. Too many times I see kids who aren’t black who are raised without their fathers, and it’s just sad because it’s so avoidable. Just step up men. Maybe black guys are more known for it because black women badmouth them into next year.
Myth #7: All black men objectify women.
I blame Sir Mix-a-Lot for most of this, at least since the ’90s. Baby got back indeed. The truth is that black men are just like other men in this respect. Not all of us like “juicy doubles,” not all of us are into the hourglass look, and not all of us are shallow wanks. Black men who were raised right and who took that to heart are just as appreciative and respectful to a good woman as anyone else who has values. Just because the media likes to portray us as sexists who use women doesn’t mean it’s true.
Myth #8: All black men like rap.
Okay okay. So I do like some rap, but I also like classical music, ragtime, reggae, ska, rock, r&b, metal, and bits and pieces of most musical genres out there. There’s nothing I hate worse than people who take one look at me and think that all I listen to is rap music. The other day I blasted some Alanis Morissette and people were shocked. Yeah, stop judging before you get to know me. Alanis is da bomb. Maybe I should play my music without headphones more often.
And maybe I should get some louder shoes.
3 thoughts on “The Quietest Black Man in America”
Hi Sam, humans are the strangest species – we just can’t seem to stop categorising each other and in most cases in the most sweeping terms. In my rather dusty knowledge of genetics at least there is more variation within a group of people who may appear similar than there is between groups which may appear vastly dissimilar.
Chas, I completely agree, and yet society can’t seem to get out of its own way when it comes to race and sweeping generalizations. We are all uniquely individual people who should never be penned up, in any way.
Hi Sam – somehow – no matter how hard you try – you find yourself categorising people. A new colleague recently joined our team and set up her workplace in an array of bright pink items. Initially I sort of parked her in a particular monotype on the basis of that. But of course once again that’s just the outer shell and doesn’t really say much about the person beneath.