Thursday, March 23, 2006

gray/gray colorblindness

it's thursday! this means two things. first, you made it past the middle of the week. second, i watched black/white last night.

first, let's dispense with the light preliminaries:

i found it interesting that both teenage white rose, and grown black renee said that renee's son nicholas acts like a stereotype. the apathetic, materialistic, immature, young, ignorant black boy. shoot, i agree. i hate that that boy has been left back twice and expresses himself in a manner that probably shames his parents, who both speak well. i think that renee and brian should have kept nicholas away from b.e.t. a little more vigilantly... he didn't just get like that...

why did bruno say that he liked the way renee used the word, "negro" when she cussed nicholas out? just why??? he really wants me to dislike him, doesn't he?

why am i hoping that white people watching this show don't think that all black parents use profanity towards their children? what's worse, why am i hoping the black people watching this show don't think that this is how black people should be towards their children? see, i'm realizing that in the absence of real community interaction, too many black folks are taking their cues on how to be black from television. sad but true. exhibit #1 - nicholas. exhibit #2 - black suburban kids breaking their necks to be like kids from the urban jungles, because that experience is "blacker" and "realer" than theirs, or at least that's what the videos and songs tell you... but anyway, my parents didn't use profanity on me. they didn't have to, but even so, let's not take that one family to represent all black families in america, just like i know bruno isn't all white men. (thank goodness!)

why was i rolling when renee was cussing nicholas out, though? ooooh that was funny.

now for the beef.

i have a beef with two people this time. first, the minor beef. ms. sassy black tourguide. the lady who showed carmen and bruno (the white couple) around the museum and the hood and the park. don't get me wrong. i like her friendly spirit and her kindness to the white couple. she seems like a sweet girl. but sometimes, she grates at me. "black people do this," and "black folks do that..." come on. she could at least say, "a lot of," or "some of," or "it's been said that," bla bla bla. but nooooo. she is the ambassador extraordinaire of all things knee-grow. and that just isn't so. i don't think she realizes it, but she is bolstering stereotypes all while she's supposedly trying to get these white folks to see beyond stereotypes. it's like she's unwittingly put on black face when she says stuff like, "no black woman would admit she hasn't read a Bible in ten years," or "black people look in your shower when they use your bathroom." whether in earnest or in jest, she knows that carmen is listening to her, trying to get some understanding of blackness (whatever that is), and carmen's silly self is standing there nodding, like, "ohhh, i didn't know that," which just encourages this woman to keep on cooning. oh just stop. however, there are times when i think ms. sassy black tourguide is useful, like when she explained in the park that the tension they felt walking through a park full of black militants was because they appeared to be a black man with a white woman. carmen and bruno needed to have that said and confirmed for them.

which brings me to my next beef. the meatier cut. bruno. again. of course. see, earlier in the show, before they went to the park, bruno and carmen went out dancing, appearing as a black couple. they went to a country/western spot, where the clientele was all white. they were the only black folks there. now first of all, this is my first issue with the producers. this is a totally unrealistic situation. it's not unrealistic that black folks would, in fact, be the only minorities in a room. but i think it is unrealistic that black folks would seek entertainment there. i'd think that perhaps another place would have been better. but i'm veering off. carmen felt strange being the only black woman in the room. she wasn't used to being a minority, and she felt unwelcome. she felt tension. and she felt untrusted for being asked for her credit card before being able to get a tab at the bar. but bruno says he felt and noticed nothing strange. umm, okay. it's like he and brian (the black guy) said in the first episode. if you're looking for something, you'll find it. and if you're not looking for something, you won't. well maybe carmen was looking to feel foreign and unwanted. and maybe bruno wasn't looking to be treated differently. or maybe carmen's feeling ostracized was very real and she was just being honest, and maybe bruno was getting the screwface and chose not to acknowledge it for what it was. guess we'll never get a confirmation. sounds a lot like what we black folks have to go through when we get the feeling that something ain't right, but we never get the confirmation... we just have to keep living, finding a way to deal with the suspicion.

now contrast this with their visit as a interracial couple (bruno appearing black, with carmen appearing white) to the park where the black folks with drums and incense and backpacks and camouflage and bandanas hang out. the tension was palpable. carmen felt it. bruno felt it. ms. sassy black tour guide confirmed it, and, as i said before, she identified it as hostility at what appeared to be a brother bringing a white girl into black space. they were very obviously not welcome. bruno was aggravated. he labeled the tension as racism. he wouldn't attribute it to ms. sassy black tour guide's reasoning, but he knew he felt something ugly and uncomfortable. carmen was really broken up - she was afraid and alienated - feelings that she wasn't used to at all. she accepted the tour guide's reasoning, and really felt something that struck a chord in her.

you wanna know what struck a chord in me? (tell 'em why you mad, son!) imagine carmen as accurate for a moment. the "control" in the experiment. how come carmen felt tension at both the white bar and the black park? how come bruno couldn't feel the tension from the white folks at the white bar, but he could feel the tension from the black folks at the black park? how come? huh? how. come? i'ma just leave that rhetorical and let you marinate on that for a minute.


can't wait until next week.