Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Invisible No More?!

Ralph Ellison wrote an award-winning novel many years back that became a staple in colleges, fueling discussions on race, and advancing a dialog critical to the way the races have come to understanding their respective places in a society that has for years relegated blacks to the back of the bus, and rendered them "invisible."

But not anymore.

WASHINGTON—A majority of African-Americans surveyed in a nationwide poll this week reported feeling "deeply disturbed" and "more than a little weirded out" by all the white people now smiling at them.

First witnessed shortly after President Obama's historic victory, the open and cheerful smiling has only continued in recent months, leaving members of the black community completely unnerved.

"On behalf of black people across this nation, I would like to say to our white brethren, 'Please stop looking at us like that,'" said Brown University psychology professor Dr. Stanley Carsons. "We're excited Barack is president, too, and we're glad you're happy for us. But giving us the thumbs up for no reason, or saying hello whenever we walk by, is really starting to
freak us out."

Added Carsons, "We just want to be able to stand in line at Home Depot without getting patted on the back."

To say that this amuses me would be an understatement. For some blacks it's not a laughing matter. It's as though one grand joke is being playing on us, or a plot for a new movie. We have always been here. We have actually fought in every American war--one of ours becoming the first fatality in the Revolutionary War, a certain Crispus Attucks, by name.

Here we're seeing the "transformative power" of one man, one that many in the country have tied their hopes to, hoping he will bring back a level of dignity and respect to the White House.

Now, many whites are seeing us in the way that they see Obama, through a kind of Obama lens. We're being reaccessed. Maybe we can do more than shuffle, say Yes Suh, and No Suh, and have actual ideas, and something intelligent and witty to say.

Black is now in, at least for the time being. I'm not sure how long the aura is going to last, or whether this new courtship will get past that critical ninety-days stage.

But for the time being, blacks should revel in their new-found attention, if not fame, and use the moment to advantage in a sort of Rod Blagojevich kind of way--the moment is just too golden to throw away.

Perhaps we should now seek out that loan that was denied us because of redlining, or because our color didn't inspire trust.

And if there's a white neighborhood you have always wanted to move into, but were afraid of an additional lawn ornament, such as a burning cross or two, now is the time seek out that white realtor and go for it.

And during these recessionary times maybe you should ask for that raise that's been denied you over the years, or, if unemployed, now's the time to approach that white establishment personnel officer which a resume.

"According to the poll, more than 92 percent of African-Americans have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of beaming Caucasians in their vicinity, as well as a marked rise in the instances of white people making direct eye contact with them on the bus, engaging them in pleasant conversation, and warmly gazing in their general direction with a mix of wonder, pride, and profound contentment.

"All respondents reported being "petrified" by the change.

"Yesterday, I'm pretty sure the cashier at the Giant Eagle winked at me," said Eddie Wilkes, a Pittsburgh resident who described himself as "not a politics person." "Then she said something about what a happy day it was and tried to bump fists. The whole thing gave me the willies."

"I can't even be at a bar anymore if they have the news on," said Chicago native and small business consultant Jarell Brown. "Obama gives a speech on the economy and people act like my team just won the Super Bowl. I didn't even vote for the guy. I'm a Libertarian."

Perhaps I've gone too far with the employment thing, but you get my point. Strike while the iron is hot. We don't know how long this courtship is going to last. Next week we may be back to being black and invisible again.

Here's the unvarnished truth: We're more comfortable with white hate than with white love. We've never had the opportunity to experience it that much over the years. We saw Jackie Robinson called names and spat on, and Cassius Clay hated on by whites.

This new love thing is a little hard to get used to, but we needn't worry, for every up there's a down--Obama's ascension has also increased membership in the various hate groups dotting the landscape. They're working hard to keep our feet on the ground, and not allowing all this new white love to go to our collective heads.

I forget: Is today April First?


GrannyStandingforTruth said...

Just wanted to share a link with you. This website has electronic books that are no longer in print or no longer has a copyright that you can download and keep. It has a lot of old and rare books in the African American section.

Black Diaspora said...

Thanks Granny. I've downloaded several already.

These are some books that I won't have to get back on time to avoid a "late fee."

I see you're as much of book lover as I am.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

Black diaspora:

Granny has a huge library. I collect books that range from fiction, nonfiction, educational, biography, and autobiography. I've been collecting books since 1963. My collection of books on African Americans is vast.

Every time I go to the online bookstore with intentions of buying one book, I wind up with more than 10. I just came back from our main library buying 10 books at the book sale they have there every week. The thing is I went to return some books I had borrowed and couldn't resist the temptation of buying some before I left. Do you think I need to see a doctor about my book obsession? (wink) LOL!

Those books you downloaded from that website you get to keep. You can even download them on a disk and copy them on paper if you want to. Those are books that were mostly written back during the 1800's and early 1900's. The copyright on them has expired. Pass on that Web Site to others that like to read and share it.

I've been doing our family genealogy since the early 1980's and I read a lot about our history in the process of doing it, because it makes it easier to find stuff and figure it out.

Black Diaspora said...

"Do you think I need to see a doctor about my book obsession? (wink) LOL!"

If you find one, let me know. I think I've been infected right along with you!

There's another download site. If you'd like to know about it, let me know. I'll try to find it again.

I haven't been there for awhile. I will pass on the one you have shared. I like that it has a grouping of books, and that they group them by subject.

More blacks should attempt a genealogical search to complete their family tree.

I doff my hat to you. I know how difficult it is for blacks to find those missing family members but it's well worth the search.

It's good for those coming along to know who they're related to, and what they had to do to keep family together, and safe.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

Yes, it is difficult for blacks to find their families, but then, again it's not. If you read a lot of books on black history, you'd be surprise how much that helps to make it easier to find stuff.

I ordered this book a couple of weeks ago and was scanning the pages I ran across a newspaper clipping on one of my uncles that was lynched. He was a preacher. A lot of my ancestors are in history books and a biography was written about one of them.

I learned a lot about slave surnames and how they named their children. Now, that was very interesting and informative and it gave me a another very valuable clue. It is one of the reasons why blacks have a hard time finding their ancestors. A good book to get is called "Black Roots", by Tony Burrough. After reading his book I was able to find some more of my relatives.

Our family has a very rich heritage. There are a lot of prominent people in our family tree on both sides of the family dating back to the 1800s and up to the present. I come from a very huge family that is huge on both sides and I do mean huge. I have many pictures of my ancestors that lived back in the 1800s'.

I didn't want to say anything when they were talking about Chauncy Bailey, the journalist, but he also, was related to me. Well, you know how it is when people talking about a relative that has been murdered, you sort of keep quiet to see if you'll learn anything new. He was kin on my dad's side as well through his mother.

Black Diaspora said...

"If you read a lot of books on black history, you'd be surprise how much that helps to make it easier to find stuff."

Granny, I never thought that that would be a source. Thanks for that tip.

"A good book to get is called "Black Roots", by Tony Burrough. After reading his book I was able to find some more of my relatives."

I've been working on my family tree for awhile, but haven't sought out other sources. I will give "Black Roots" a try, and see where it takes me.

This is yet another of those things that we've inherited from slavery--an inability to do a thorough genealogical search, or know who our ancestors are and were.

"Our family has a very rich heritage. There are a lot of prominent people in our family tree on both sides of the family dating back to the 1800s and up to the present."

At least, Granny you've had some success. When I started my search, both my mother and my father were deceased, so I didn't have a foundation from which to start.

And couple that with the fact that my father's father had two families, and that he had many half sisters and brothers, that side of the family may be forever lost.

I'm persistent though, and thank you for your tips and encouragement.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

Black Diaspora:

Do you have any older aunts, uncles, or cousins living? If so, ask them. You'd be surprise how much information family can give you that might give you a clue. I've been doing this type of research since 1980 and learned a lot on the way from others, trial and error, reading, and family. But you always start with the oldest family members first. In a sense, I was fortunate, because my father's mother's sisters and brothers lived to be up to 105 years old, and they gave me a lot of information. On my mother's side, my grandmother was like the family griot and she made sure we knew our family's history.

I'll help you with it. If you ever have any questions just ask me I'll be more than willing to help you. Just know that you will not find nothing overnight, it takes a lot of hardwork, digging through archives, persistence, disclipline, and determination. My research has taken me past the 1700's and I have a couple of the slaveowners names.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

BTW, forgive me for going off topic. Sometimes I try to take a break from things going on in the world to give my mind a chance to refresh and regroup.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...


Black Diaspora said...

"I'll help you with it. If you ever have any questions just ask me I'll be more than willing to help you."

Granny, thanks. You've been a big help, already.