By staff writer Et Nola
July 16, 2006
“Now With More Flava Than a Public Enemy/VH1 Boxed Set”
Before I get into this column, let me just say this: damn it feels good to have both electricity and running water. As you may gather from the above sentiment, I am out of my FEMA-sponsored “summer condo.” I write to you live from the San Francisco Bay where I now model thongs labeled “the REAL San Francisco treat.” In all honesty, the Bay Area is a remarkable place—the kind of which I’ll discuss at-length later on. I’ve business to address beforehand. It’s time you a learned a little more about the “real” me.
Throughout my travels I’ve both loved and lost (assorted socks); yet when it comes to matters of the heart, a particularly striking comment made by a love interest of mine (aka “woman whose panties I’ve tangled”) hit rather close to home. In short, she said I was “fake.” Putting aside the imprecise nature of her accusation (she’s only an English major after all), I realized that though she missed the mark, she had a point about something I often struggle with: it’s tough to pinpoint all that I am.
“I thought if Levar Burton could do Roots, Reading Rainbow, AND Star Trek, maybe I could follow my dream to be a literate former slave in outer space as well.”
All my life I’ve been a hybrid. Born a descendant of noticeably mulatto lineage, I can at least say that my mother fit enough urban stereotypes to be the “strong black woman” —and genetically she was. My father matched enough of the deadbeat stereotypes to be the premise for a Spike Lee-directed cross between He Got Game and Pootie Tang. It became clear early on that I was destined for success… either in the NFL or at Death Jam Records, but one can never be certain.
Somewhere down the line I broke free of the stereotypical path I seemed destined to “beatbox and breakdance” down. I thought if Levar Burton could do Roots, Reading Rainbow, and Star Trek, maybe I could follow my dream to be a literate former slave in outer space as well. Sure, it was a dream, but so was the UPN comedy “Homeboys In Outer Space.” It had it all: spaceships, “futuristic” technology, and black people that didn’t have creases in their foreheads. These “homeboys” were making progress, but they fell short… drastically short. They actually tried too hard to blend realities. I don’t have that kind of problem. I don’t try at all.
Ever since I left public school and moved away from home to a private high school, I could see the difference between the “haves” and those voted most likely to rob the haves. I’m sure you were waiting for a specific “white people do this and black people do this” joke, but be patient. As easy as it was for me to note the differences between those with money and those without, I found my talent for objectively critiquing both sides was more natural.
Suddenly, I felt like a double agent… yes, you guessed it: Agent Double-O Negro. I wasn’t ashamed of my black heritage, but I wasn’t afraid to see what more there was to life. I wasn’t bound to assume a position of elitism just because I was accepted (albeit with a grain of salt in some instances), but I also wouldn’t be relegated to some triumph-through-adversity, boot-strap-pulling survivalist (yeah, I love hyphens too). I’m more than that… just like most of you are more than what a two-sentence comment in the dialogue box suggests you are. So, since it’s far more difficult to label what I am and what this column will be, allow me to narrow things down to what I am not:
1. First and foremost, I’m not a prophet. Richard Clarke and Tupac may have been. I’m just saying one got shot, and the other got a couple million in a book deal while staying the hell out of NY during 9/11, and I think I’d have the luck of the former and not the latter.
2. I’m not here to sway your opinion of black people one way or the other. I didn’t just get elected as a delegate from the Congressional Black Caucus, and I’m not sponsored by Lugz, BET, or Boost Mobile. Though I am often asked “Where Y’at?” (It’s a New Orleans thing.)
3. Though I may present most issues objectively, I don’t think everything has a grey area. “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette is not “ironic.” If you attempt to rationalize it, I will smite you with the incommensurable fury of fundamental semantic logic. Don’t even bother with the “but it’s ironic because it isn’t.” Don’t become as inane as your argument.
4. Though I am from New Orleans, I will not spend countless columns on the social justice issue that Katrina highlighted. I have a blog for that. For fans of such commentary, I’ll sum things up in a multiple choice “Mad Lib”:
George Bush doesn’t care about ___(noun/pronoun)___.
A) Social Security B) re-election C) foreign “democracy” D) anyone in your tax bracket
Most importantly, I believe humor is subjective in its own right. If I still expected you all to agree with everything I said (and somehow you didn’t) well, that would constitute multiple ironies… or wouldn’t it?
What I can promise is that I’ll discuss everything from reasons why Jada Pinkett-Smith’s punk band should be fired into lunar orbit to what’s so awesome/awful about the ’06 Mid-Term Elections. O’Reilly patented the “No Spin Zone” but that won’t stop me from telling the truth, the whole truth, and a ridiculously fictitious and/or anachronistic version of the truth so help me, God (Allah for my readers over at Al Jazeera). I do this for you. I do this for the children. But as we all know, I do it for the bitches and bling. Fa’ shizzle, fa’ sho.
To Mya: I may not know who I am, but that’s only because there’s more to my story than has already been written. Also, I love you even when your head gets stuck up your ass.