i wasn't going to post this video due to my own judgyness but a homie sent it to me to ask what i thought. first, he wasn't really sure how he felt about the video (that makes two of us as there are bits that are slightly comical) second, a good friend of his--who happens to be white--sent it to him. our "histories" makes this a tad awkward but it's also telling because said friend found it hilarious.
i'm sure you can figure out that i have some serious, SERIOUS issues with what i'm about to post and apologies in advance if you find my tone judgmental. we all have different experiences that make up the bulk of the "black experience" so what may effect one person, could easily mean nothing to the next.
so i post this video to honestly open up a dialogue as i have my views on it but i'm very interested in hearing what someone else thinks.
so without further ado...
maybe it's the history of black stereotypes that makes me upset with this young man for perpetuating them. to name a few...
love of chicken? check.
bugged out eyes? check.
singing and dancing aka "stepin fetchit"? check.
can't speak "proper" english? check.
in fact, while we're here, why don't we peep this cartoon from the 30s, showing how on point this young man is? (the ode to chicken starts at 3:41)
i guess singing about chicken is the thing to do?
let me be the first to say, this kid can sing. in fact, if a vocal coach were to take him under their wing, they'd be sure to tell him he has a rare quality in the tone of his voice, that dusky, earthiness that very few singers possess. someone like gladys knight would be a good example of this.
and for a hot second, after watching this, i had this fantasy that this kid would get his 15 minutes, that he'd be interviewed in a well-respected public forum and once he's on the couch, he'd "flip the script."
he'd tell everyone that basically, this video was a social experiment for his cultural sociology thesis and he wanted to prove how much society would embrace his behavior, how much they would relish in his love of chicken, how much they would celebrate, laugh, sing and pass along to friends...if he portrayed the stereotype. *cue to awkward silence as they cut to commercial*
i find it interesting that mainstream culture often embraces and emulates the most ignorant aspects of black culture and that often, we help perpetuate them. and i'm aware there are plenty of other cultures and groups who have the same complaints about how their images are projected around the world, the sterotypes and the like. they're equally correct and i'm aware when i see them but as a black american, i'm focusing on this youngster, solely for this post.
maybe someone black from the dominican, panama, europe, puerto rico, the west indies or brazil (which holds the largest concentration of africans outside of africa) wouldn't be as upset? after all, this really is an american issue.
do my white brethren love fried chicken? of course. do they love watermelon? definitely. have i often been a bit apprehensive about eating chicken or watermelon at company gatherings to avoid "confirmation"? guilty as charged. and i'm upset with myself for feeding in to the fear of how i'll be seen just as much as i'm upset that the stereotype in itself is unfair. i have yet to visit the south/southwest and find one single white person who does not enjoy either of the two. and yet, the current spokesperson for popeye's chicken, is a black woman.
i'm trippin' about all of this you say? hyper sensitive? get over it? everyone is an individual and no one really thinks all black people love chicken and it's okay for this kid to sing about his love of fried chicken to the the tune of "bust your windows" because i'm projecting my issues on to this young man by judging his creative expression? food for thought. you may be right but let's ask our modern day cultural ambassador what he thinks:
i have some very critical thinking, non-black friends, one of which, was equally stunned. his comment, "i blame al gore for this shit" cracked me up yet eased the embarrassment of the complicated history our cultures share. in 2010, we're able have a thoughtful discussion and shake our heads in disbelief.
i admit, i want to blame someone for the way i feel. i want someone, somewhere to take responsibility for this "feeling" that i can't quite put in to words yet i know many minority groups understand. am i upset with this kid? eh, i guess so. am i more upset with his parents for not teaching him how to present himself to the world? sure.
but what i'm most upset by is that this kid (lack of creativity in subject matter notwithstanding), can't just be a kid singing about chicken. no, no...he's a black kid singing about chicken, his image transmitted for the world to see, for commenters and revelers alike and that makes all the difference.
*thanks for the video brandon.