There is a lot of stuff we Black folks quibble over such as salt vs. sugar in grits; but for the most part, we can’t stand an OBF. (one Black friend).
Let’s be clear, most of us Black folks have been in situations where we are the only Black person in a class, school, social group, at work or in a neighborhood. Many of us also have a group of White friends, whom when we go out, we are the only Black person in that group. I am not talking about those people.
An OBF meets the following criteria:
-They essentially only socialize with White people
-They avoid Black people or fail to even acknowledge them
-They are willing to hide parts of themselves to be more accepted
-They think White people are superior to Black people (and that they are special because they hang with White people)
-They believe the concerns of most Black people are not their concerns;
-In some instances, they are willing to hurt Black people to gain greater acceptance
O.J. Simpson, Tiger Woods, Stacy Dash and most recently Omarosa are some of the most famous OBFs; although most of us know one or two personally. What politics have made me realize is that White folks seem to think that all dis Black love we ooze fails to have limits. Yes, Black folks are the most accepting of folks (any race who comes into our clubs, churches, neighborhoods, etc. gets treated warmly); but there is a solid, concrete wall when it comes to OBFs. Black folks like that One Black Friend, that token Black person as much as we like a Klan member. We realize that they are our color; but they sure as hell ain’t our kind. They have gone through great lengths to reject who they are; so of course, rejecting us is easy; consequently, we don’t trust her as much as we trust Trump in Russia.
So, I am simultaneously amused and irritated that these token Black folks are paraded in front of the world as if Black folks are monolithic and will accept anyone and anything, if they have a similar hue; that Black folks and our entire culture can be represented by what one Black person says (including a Black person who has culturally disassociated herself from Black folks and Black culture). For instance, Trump seemed to believe that having photo ops with Steve Harvey (which didn’t elevate Trump’s status with Black people; but lowered Steve’s); Tiger Woods (who has long been dismissed by the Black community); Omarosa (Bye. Just bye) would indicate to Black people that he was going to be a President who would serve all people. The parading and hiring of tokens merely indicates one’s lack of belief in the discernment of Black Americans; and the belief that Black people are homogenous.
We don’t just see this tokenism in politics; but in corporate America—hell, America generally. My old job as a diversity trainer had me meeting with people in charge of diversity and inclusion efforts. Oftentimes, the people I met were less culturally connected or culturally concerned than the average person. They were two things: Black and extremely socially-acceptable, culturally-comfortable for White people. Accordingly, White executives got to satisfy their needs: feel as if they were making efforts to improve diversity and inclusivity while not having to ever feel uncomfortable.
This is why these tokens are selected, promoted, and lauded by the majority culture: they allow White people to feel not-racist, while allowing them to be racist.
Once I was making a speech for an organization of women whom considered themselves extremely liberal. They repeatedly spoke highly of another Black woman who was speaking. The speaker talked about her journey as a Black woman or something or other. At some later point, she mentioned that she had never had a friendship with a Black woman. Bingo –a token!
But I knew that this woman would continue to be used; as would her words. I know that something she said would be repeated by many who were in the audience as a fact about Black people because of what a Black person said (because of course, we only have one voice). Countless times, I have been in debates when a White person will blurt, “but even Ben Carson (or any other token) said —-“ as if now the argument is settled because 1 Black person said something. Clearly, it is not understood, that Carson, Omarosa, and every other token isn’t our kind or our Kin. They took the underground railroad the other way and have no desire of being free or believe that only the White man can set them free (through money and success).
At some point, it must be understood that a token is about as valuable as it sounds—fake money, valued less than one cent, worthless. Black folks don’t miss them when they leave, don’t respect or think about them when they are gone, and don’t want them when they try to come back (after they have their Blackpihany and realize that after all the coonin’ they did, they are exactly where they started: Black and not fully accepted).
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