“Can’t take black people nowhere man”
“Why can’t black people behave???”
“We have to work twice as hard to get half of what they are given”
Dear all, are you even black if you haven’t heard the last line quoted above? Or at least some variation of those words. Growing up as a black child means being constantly reminded that this world is not fair, contradictory to the rumours, men are not born equal. When looking at inequality, people often talk of equality of opportunity, equality of pay or equality of treatment, but what is often overlooked is equality of mediocrity. This past week, young, black holiday makers arrived in Albufeira, Portugal, effectively fucked shit up and left. Whilst most where there to enjoy themselves, soak in the sun and link up with faces both old and new, others found themselves propelling bottles, offing wigs and clashing with local police. But what struck me most about the stories from Albufeira, coming back via both twitter and snapchat, was not of the poor display off home training by some of our brothers and sisters abroad but of public reaction to it. Today’s post will explore how hard twice as hard really is, and what place mediocrity has in the black community, if any.
I’m here. I’m ghetto. Get over it.
As a community, we often discuss how harmful stereotypes can be, we’ve made a big deal (and rightfully so), about the media tarring us all with the same brush, in instances of a fuck up, perpetrated by a single black person or persons. We chastise those that feed into those stereotypes, the loud ghetto aggressive types, the drug dealing thug types, less so, the fraudulent spikey shoed types, but I digress. What I need to make clear here, is that these people exist. And though it’s understandable to want to change public perception of what it is to be black, the ignorant, brash, idiotic exists. Ghetto girls exist. Illiterate black people exist. Thugs exist. And they’re not going anywhere. Time and time again I’ve seen people attempt to distance themselves from these types, and after the news of what was going down in Portugal made its way to the UK, we acted no differently. We quickly flocked to social media to condemn the acts of the small minority who messed it up for everyone else. Every time I scrolled there was a new post about how black people can’t behave, or about how done someone was with black people, that they’d never be attending a holiday with so many black faces again etc. And my first reaction was one of agreement, I then paused and thought of all of the times I stopped myself from going to places, that I deemed to potentially have “too many black people”. What is it about the gathering of black bodies that makes not only white people uneasy, but even those of us who are a part of this community?
Mediocrity and my right to be foolish
When we have those conversations with our parents about working twice as hard as our white counterparts, what is often made clear, whether explicitly or suggested, is that we cannot afford to be mediocre. Recently there’s been a large focus on black excellence and instances of black people doing amazing things, a large surge in black business whether that be clothing lines, make-up boutiques or youtube channels, young black faces are making an effort to get themselves out there. And though I applaud excellence, wherever I come across it, I also understand that we can’t all win. The simple truth of life is that we all can’t be on top, for a range of reasons both personal and structural there will always be people working less, who are less driven and who are already content with their position. And with mediocrity often comes idleness and with idleness often comes some foolishness. Regardless of whether what happened in Albufeira was right or wrong, I want equality for black persons across the board and within that, the equal opportunity to act a complete fool on holiday without it becoming racialised. I expect this from the media, but before the daily mail could get their bigoted hands on this story we had already drawn attention to it. I’m not saying that we don’t have the right to call out our own people when they’re fucking up, far from it, but when an instance like this happens, we have to ask ourselves, “Is this a black people thing or a general people thing?”.
This part of the post is addressed to anyone who was disgusted with some of the behaviour exhibited in that small town in Portugal. I get your anger, I understand why you feel as though this is detrimental to the betterment of black people. But I also want you to be aware that just as those who were smashing bottles in the club played right into the racists hands, so did we. The moment we took to social media to show our outrage, not at the behaviour of humans, but in what we deemed to be a “black thing” we became a pawn in the game of respectability politics. We can blame the media all we want but before they had the chance to spin this story, and continue spewing material which, paints black people as rebel thugs we hoped on twitter to do it for them.
Well I think what I’m trying to say is that black people are not permitted to be multi-faceted. This idea of oneness is not only perpetuated by racists who blame the acts of a few on the many, but also by ourselves when we attempt to police the acts of black people everywhere. The need to be seen as one, though something I understand, is not something I feel will ever be achieved, because black is just a prefix, we are people and people are unpredictable. We can’t expect for us all to act the same, or have the same morals or to not start fights in the airport. because despite the similarities between us, we are different. Why are we so obsessed with the ways white people view us? Because regardless of whether we stay on our best behaviours, a racist is still gong to be a racist. When I started typing this post I was unsure, of whether black people will ever be able to be seen, as just people, but as I went on I started questioning by who? Who is it, what group was it, that I wanted to understand in the fallacy of oneness? Was it the racists or was it our community?
Argumentative, Outspoken and unapologetically Jaydee x