Whether it was Lisa Turtle on “Saved by the Bell,” The Black Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, or the appropriately named Token from “South Park,” they all have one thing in common: they play the token among a cast of predominately white characters whom we might not otherwise relate to. When it comes to film and television, the 80’s and 90’s were filled with sassy assistants, intimidating sidekicks or soul-singing Grandmas who were never the main character. Maybe it’s something that’s been historically oppressed on African-American culture, but some us have definitely kept the “token mentality” ball rolling by not allowing our people as a whole to achieve any significant level of success. What is the token mentality, exactly? It’s the belief that only one of us at any given time can be the educated one, the pretty one or the funny one. The only area of our culture that this doesn’t take place is Hip-Hop. Otherwise, before any of us can make some progress, we begin to pull one another down when it seems any one of us is getting just a bit more shine than the others. As a result, a majority of us usually end up at the bottom together complaining about how “the man” is holding us down.
I think on some level we all do it to ourselves. How many times have you driven through a different neighborhood feeling slightly uncomfortable until you spot another black person? They may have zero in common with you, but instantly you’re relieved because if you’re going down, at least it’s together…or so you hope.
There are certain things inherent to black culture that others have difficulty picking up on, but as I get older I learn more and more stereotypes are not about your race as much as it’s about how you were raised. For example I can’t cornrow, just recently learned what a “dub” is and people actually set mailboxes on fire? Where they do that at?
It’s OK that we don’t always stick together and there’s nothing wrong rolling with other people that don’t share your race if you actually have things in common, because honestly you’re not obligated to like other black people just because you’re black. The problem comes when you think that having white friends equals having white privileges and when those friends don’t truly look at you as a friend but, well a token. Here are ten signs you may be just that: