Black folks, who try to be all super-sophisticated and whatnot feel a bit of superiority when they brag about not watching all these reality shows filled with tom-foolery and ghett-occurances. But even the most PBS-watching, crossword-puzzle-doing, African American is sippin’ on some Rob Kardashian / Blac Chyna tea right about now. They might not admit it, but they are.
Why? From Ice Cube to the Carlton Banks of Black folks, we all enjoy a little get-back. There is a low-grade thrill in our stomachs when we watch White folks publicly suffer what is typically framed as a Black-experience (because we are the only ones with dysfunctional situations–right?!?). We like to see them tentatively walk in those uncomfortable, cheap, high-heel shoes of shame that rub the corn on the right foot and the bunion on the left—not because we are mean people—but because we like to see the untouchables – touched (okay slapped a little).
There is also some satisfaction in seeing those who have benefited from a system; then get burned by that same system. The O.J. Simpson case is a great example. Yes, some Black folks genuinely believe that O.J. didn’t kill his late wife; but many Black folks recognize that a Black man bought his freedom, as White defendants, who are more economically sound, are able to do daily and have been doing for years. O.J. had a defense team with whom the D.A.’s couldn’t compare. The case of Bill Cosby is similar. When there is more smoke than the D.C. Fourth of July fireworks show, I’m going to assume that there was at least one fire (50-something accusers must cause anyone question Bill’s innocence); but he was able to afford one hell of a defense team. In both cases White folks were appalled, gob-smacked, and outraged that the same racist system that leaves hundreds of thousands of Black folks sitting in jail for years like forgotten luggage because they can’t afford bail, was used to benefit Black people.
So, when we, get to wear our petty-capes, shed our uncomfortable shoes, and watch one from the Kardashian clan limp up and down social media, even the most bougie-fied of Black folks pay attention. We, Black women, who get dogged for wearing a too tight dress, have watched Kim Kardashian build an empire for her entire family from an amateur porn video with a Black man, Ray J. We have watched as this family has travelled the world, started companies, become more famous than talented/hardworking stars, as they have lured, used and damaged rich, Black men (with purchased African American features). They have seemed unstoppable—made to be some sort of American royalty –even as they dealt with every imaginable type of family drama: pornography, children out of wedlock, alcoholism/drug abuse, transgender transformations, questions around Chloe’s birth father (if that ain’t O.J’s baby…).
A Black woman (not saying Blac Chyna is one to emulate or glorify) has made a Kardashian publicly look like a strung-out fool, just as they did to Kris Humphries, Kanye, Lamar Odom, and so on. Our inner-petty witch can’t help but to put down the crossword puzzle, sip a little tea, and cackle for a guilty minute.
My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more