THEY CALL ME THE "GOOD NEGRO" BUT THAT CONCEPT
DOES NOT EXIST
AND I AM NOT SAFE
They think of me as the “good Negro.” They, some White people, have always considered me as the “good Negro” – an acceptable Black person who is indistinguishable from the values, education and manner of those that are a part of the White American community.
For example, I am indistinguishable because my resume is similar to theirs. I went to a private high school, excelled in organized sports, graduated from one of the best liberal arts school in the nation, and have a culturally/racially diverse set of friends.
I studied abroad twice, take bimonthly vacations, volunteer, dine at their restaurants, shop where they shop and share similar extracurricular activities.
I am not hostile but friendly; not indolent but active and peppy. I am not boisterous but soft spoken.
I’m a good demonstration of what my race should strive to be….. “they” say.
As a child raised in a single parent household, I am undeniably blessed to have obtained experiences that provided me with the means to have a successful future.
The summation of my life might sound all great and dandy but it doesn’t highlight the problem within the narrative. It doesn’t depict the real truth. They, some White people, think of me as the “good Negro” but that concept does not exist. I have am not acceptable to them nor am I safe from prejudice and racialized practices.
You see, us “good ones” are not comfortable or protected because we still have to face the reality that us black individuals are forced to feel the sting of oppression while living in a White America.
What reality am I talking about?
What if I told you that an employee from Vassar College expressed to me that I should transfer to another university? That I should pursue other, cheaper, educational options because I was Black and couldn’t afford the hefty tuition price tag of $58,000/yr.
What if I told you that I was racially profiled at Dick’s Sporting Goods? See: I WAS RACIALLY PROFILED: My Story and How It Inspired Me
What if I told you that I hold my breath every time a cop pulls up behind me because I, too, could end up like Sandra Bland?
If I told you this, would you care? Would you recognize the dream of living in a post-racial America is just that…a dream? Or would you ignore my experiences in order to stay higher up on the social ladder than me? Disregard my incidents in order to stay comfortable with the myth that racism doesn’t happen here in America?
My Caucasian friend once said:
I am expected to succeed, to do great things, and make a positive impact on society [because of my whiteness]. Too many African Americans are seen as the exception when they succeed, do great things and make an impact. I am very proud of some of my African American friends and admired what they have done. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with this, but as I look deeper into myself, I realize I was ‘proud’ of them because I was impressed. I was not impressed because they were black. I was impressed that they could have dark skin, speak differently than I do, grow up in a poor neighborhoods and accomplish the same things I could. I was impressed that a black person could do the same things I could and do them better.
My friend’s words impacted my rationale on racism because while her sentiments labels me a “good negro,” she recognizes the issue. I am able to be successful, to accomplish great things and make an impressionable impact because I was given the opportunities to do so. Opportunity separates me from my brothers and sisters.
Just look at my life: I was born into the upper-middle class while 51% of Black Americans were born poor and stayed poor due to the lack of upward mobility. I never had to acknowledge the race gaps in wealth until I learned that the median wealth of White households is now 13 times greater than Black households. I received superb education while other black students attended the worse schools because the system remains segregated by race and economic status. I had a parent that pushed me to evolve while other Blacks kids had to push themselves due to their parents’ unemployment, incarceration and etcetera.
The fact that I was dealt a pretty good hand in life makes me, in part, a “good Negro.” The only relevant difference between me and all the other intelligent, aspiring and gifted Black Americans I know is that they were impacted by the lack of opportunity and I was not.
Even though I have been given a chance to live an abundant life of various exposures, that doesn’t excuse me from racism. I don’t get a pass because I made it. I can achieve a lot and surpass my White counterparts but it will not erase my color. I am still not acceptable. I am not safe. My family and dark-skinned friends are not safe despite the fact that they are law-abiding citizens living in the suburbs.
In article articulating the “good Negro” Nikki Johnson-Houston said:
For generations, blacks of all income levels have told their sons about how to behave with the police, but now it feels like any stranger could kill them and not face the expected legal consequences. Even in death, our children’s character will be assassinated and the perpetrator will walk free.
We want fairness not justice. If you have fairness in the process then you won’t need justice. When millions of African-Americans are telling you about their personal experiences and the fears for their children, this is something that [you should not easily dismiss.] I don’t want to believe that the life I live and the circumstances of cases like Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Sandra Bland could be true but [sadly] they are.
We, the good blacks, have countless opportunities, but if we are unceasingly the victims of racism then being the “good Negro” in today’s world just isn’t good enough.
As I said before, brilliant minds reside also in those termed “bad negroes” but some are trapped in the consequences of a system built to hold them hostage. Without question, America is the land of the free and full of opportunities; however things are never just that black and white. Our current system handicaps all races because the crippling misconceptions of stereotypes.
Until Next Time,