Almost two months ago, I had a pre-dinner with one of my friends from middle school. I call it a pre dinner because shortly after, she was meeting one of her friends from college to have a full, proper dinner. Just so happens, in college I was in an internship program with this girl, so I said hello and reminded her of this fact. After I explained how we were all “connected,” she said, “Isn’t it amazing how all educated, black people are just one degree away from another educated, black person?” After I walked away from this woman and my friend, I found myself feeling a way about the “educated, black people” label. This was over a month ago, and up until now, I couldn’t quite figure out what it was about that phrase that didn’t sit so well with me. But today, I found the answer. I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline, and stumbled across this rather old article: “27 Things Educated, Black People Like.” There was that phrase again. I clicked to see what it was about and while there were several things that I do indeed enjoy, like Neo Soul, weddings, mega churches, dressing up, and advanced degrees, I found there were several things that “educated, black people” stereotypically do and enjoy that I just can’t get down with…
Living their lives according to the politics of respectability
If you’ve never heard of the term, basically the theory behind respectability politics is that a person can overcome racism by behaving in ways that have been approved or co-signed by the majority, white folks. So, for example folks like Don Lemon will focus on black boys and men not sagging their pants and using the n-word to eliminate racism in America as opposed to addressing the actual racists and their warped way of thinking. Admittedly, I’ve been guilty of the same thing. I’ve cringed at the teenagers who said the n-word 100 times in a 20 minute train ride, only to get home and use the same word in the privacy of my own home. As I’m getting older and more mature, I also see the value in being yourself regardless of the people around you. I doubt I’ll ever be the chick who uses the n-word in the ear shot of white folks but I do recognize that in the long run, it’s got to be unhealthy suppressing your true self because it’s not “acceptable” to the white folks. We’ll be a lot more free when we stop looking for their approval.
Shying away from “black” names
One thing educated black people are good for, is making fun of “hood,” black names. What’s more embarrassing and “uneducated” than giving a child a name the Anglo Saxxon tongue can’t manage to pronounce?! *Shudders* Educated, black folk always attempt to rationalize their judgment as concern for the poor child’s future. “Well, LaQuaysha certainly won’t get a job with a name like that.” Trust, if little LaQuaysha applies herself and has skills no one can deny, her name won’t hold her back. And even if she doesn’t get a callback because someone looked at and stereotyped her name, isn’t that something like a blessing in disguise anyway? What parent honestly wants their child working for a company that utilizes such racist practices.
Referring to themselves as educated black people
There’s no denying that by American standards, I am black. And while I consider myself to be well educated, I would truly, shy away from describing myself as such. My race is evident but I would hope the educated part would become more and more evident as we speak or as you come in contact with my work.
Distancing themselves from those they consider “uneducated” black people
Educated, black people are so quick to detail the ills within our community, pointing to young unwed mothers, the rude and reckless youth and deadbeat dads. Rarely, do we hear or see these same people giving back to underprivileged, often minority communities. Yes, the trends I mentioned are part of the problem; but would it be too much of a stretch to say that another part of the problem is that when we educated, black folk make it, we completely forget about those who haven’t “arrived” yet?
Participating “in crowd” activities that you don’t really like
Do you attend brunches when you would prefer to save your money and cook? Did you join Jack and Jill just because all of your friends were doing it? Did you abandon your true passion just so you could make money and impress your equally educated and equally black friends? This is what I mean. Don’t be untrue to who you are and become a sheep just because it’s what people in your socioeconomic group are supposed to be doing.
Pretending like they don’t know who you are
I can’t recall this ever happening to me personally but it’s certainly not something I’ve made up. If your accomplishments up to this date haven’t impressed this particular group of educated, black folk, don’t be surprised if you find that the very same person you let sleep on your couch 3 years ago, pretends she doesn’t know you in front of certain people.
Everything is Exclusive
Are you on the guest list? Perhaps educated, black people make themselves feel more important by restricting the type of people who can enter their party, fundraiser, mixer or other social gathering. I understand sometimes quantities need to be kept down. Sometimes you have to have paid $25,000 for a plate. But a lot of times that ain’t the case. Stop smelling yourself. Your event is not that poppin.’ But honestly, educated blacks aren’t the only perpetrators of this. Anybody with some money in their pocket is liable to do something similar.
If there’s anything on this list that made me say ouch, it was this correcting others piece. In an effort not to be a hypocrite, I’ll say that in my own life, I’ve often found that my motivation to correct others has been less about educating them and more about proving how much I know. It’s nothing short of a sickness. But no foul deed goes unpunished. There have been plenty of times when, in my attempt to correct someone, I’ve been dead wrong. Karma is real.
I’m always surprised by the number of people who still feel like throwing a powerful person’s name into the conversation will impress you. No, quite the contrary. Unless you can arrange for me to meet said person, it actually makes you appear thirsty and in desperate need of attention.
Throwing out business cards with no real connection
I would love to take your business card… after we’ve had some type of conversation first. I kid you not, there have been times when a person has yet to tell me their name first, yet they’re shoving their card down my throat. This doesn’t serve either one of us well. If we haven’t had a chance to develop a semblance of a connection, chances are I won’t remember where this card came from by the time I get home and empty my pockets.
This is my list. Are there things you can’t stand about educated, black people? Feel free to detail them in the comments below.