~The Token Black Guy~What I Never Want My Son To Be~A Must Read~

~The Token Black Guy~ What I Never Want My Son To Be~Written By a Harvard Graduate~ A Must Read.Edit
My answer to the question that provoked me to post this article~Nicole Moncada’s answer to How has Quora changed your view/beliefs of black people?

Being the Token

One person cannot represent an entire race
By LUMUMBA SEEGARS February 23, 2007
Share on facebookShare on twitterShare on emailShare on printMore Sharing Serviceshttp://www.thecrimson.com/articl…18

Being the token black person is not fun. I am expected to be an authority on the lives of all black people. People think I represent all black people and black culture; however, at the same time, I’m supposed to rise above black culture.

What is the token black person? The token is not supposed to be your everyday black person. The token is the good black person. You know, the black person that doesn’t adhere to all the negative stereotypes of black people. People of other races feel a little less threatened by him. Apparently, the token is different from all the other black folk; however, he’s still black enough for people to mention his name when talking about diversity.

The token is expected to know about all things black—he’s your urban teacher. Though the token is not like other black people, he still understands them. If you’re from a place with no black people and your only exposure to them has been movies like “Get Rich or Die Trying,” then the token will be your one black friend that you feel you can trust. 

Don’t be fooled—it’s not that simple. 

The history of race in America has been a power struggle between groups. Black people have not been oppressed on the basis of their individual faults; rather, individual black people have been discriminated against due to their association with the entire race. Though some individuals have managed to overcome the burdens of racial prejudice, black people are still looked down upon as a group. One of your black friends may seem trustworthy, but that doesn’t necessarily change your negative view of black people as a whole. It’s alright to have one or two black families in the neighborhood, but as soon as more start to move in, the neighborhood becomes a ghetto. There’s only a certain level of blackness that many people feel they can tolerate—the token gives them the perfect amount.

Here’s what really disturbs me: this notion that the token is better than other black people. Why is it that every time a black person does something good, somebody tries to let him know that he’s not like the rest of us?

The token feels an immense amount of pressure. Nobody is perfect, but the token has to make sure that he doesn’t slip up in front of white people. He feels as if he can’t make certain mistakes because he represents the entire race. One mistake will set black people back 100 years—and no one wants to be “that negro.”

Even at Harvard I feel the burden of tokenism. Luckily, I learned how to deal with it in high school.

For example, during my sophomore year in high school, I was one of two black students enrolled in my Algebra II class. I have this problem where I don’t really like math, so sometimes I would fall asleep in class. It turns out that the other black student had the same problem as well. Because we felt that both black people in the class couldn’t go to sleep at the same time—at least one of us had to be a “good” negro—we took turns going to sleep. Unfortunately, I was the only black person in my pre-calculus and calculus classes, so I had to continuously be a good black person in those situations.

A more prominent example of a token is Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who Senator Joseph Biden (D-Del.) recently lauded as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” I’m sure Senator Biden meant it as a compliment; however, I—along with many other blacks—took it as an insult. Many whites are comfortable with Barack Obama because they don’t see him in the same way that they still see a majority of black people in America.

Obama doesn’t scare white people. The clean, articulate, and bright guy whom Americans are impressed with is the exact opposite of what Americans expect black people in this country to be.

Blacks are violent. Blacks are angry. Blacks are lazy. Things like racial profiling and negative media portrayals are demonstrative of the suspicious way in which many Americans view blacks and other people of color.

The token helps white Americans feel as if race is no longer an issue. It’s a cover-up. Instead of looking at the continued racial separation in this country, people point to their one friend of the other race and feel satisfied with themselves.

Making someone the token black person and placing him above other black people assumes that all of us—except for the token, of course—are the same. We live in a society still very much conscious of race—even if people don’t like to admit it openly. Making one black person your trustworthy token while you still view black people as a monolith will not fix the ongoing problem of race in America.

Image

Lumumba Seegars ’09 is a social studies concentrator in Dunster House. His column appears on alternate Fridays. 

~But That’s Not Humanly Possible..or is It?~

Often we are faced with the question above, possibilities and outcomes of certain questionable task, projects, and subjects we call life presents us with all sorts of opportunities to test the limits of possibilities. We at times feel it’s not humanly possible to accomplish such tasks.If you follow me, read my answers and post you have a pretty good idea of who I am, what my purpose is for writing about subjects I consider important issues of life. I believe we often share the side of us that will impact the opinions of others views in regard to how we are seen, and we all want that to be positive.Through the last 5 years due to my illness and situations I’ve decided that in order to bring about any change of view for the cause or purpose I believe in, I would need to be willing to share the good the bad and the ugly of what I am. I have done this at times with great apprehension. I have consulted my psychologist each time I unveil the layers that makes me who I am.Today mental illness and Autism deals with a type of racism. The difference however is we are in the birthing stages of this topic where scarcely people such as myself are just beginning to speak openly about this subject matter. It’s only been in the spotlight recently, unlike color racism or gender racism which we have faced for years and years. You can only talk about or place judgment upon subjects such as these for so long before it’s “like throwing pearls to swine” Mathew 7:6(oh crap she used a quote from Jesus)One extremely important purpose in my life is my son. If you read my post and follow me, you will notice I make mention of him often, but not in depth.Sadly through most of my life I often stated that I would never have kids. I didn’t want something to tie me down. I loved the ability to come and go as I please. I hated this world, its strange rules and lack of fairness. Until my fathers passing I really never gave solid thought about being a parent. So it came as a huge surprise when two weeks after my Dad had passed on to find out I was pregnant. I had only been intimate one time in the previous 8 weeks.

Nine months later my beautiful boy came along. I named him after my Dad. The first time I held him I was so tired from the C-section delivery. When he was placed in my arms tremendous fear and love washed over me. The weight of truth settled into my mind of what I had been entrusted with. The task at hand with regard to raising my son was daunting. I had never had a two-parent household as a child nor aunts, uncles, grand parents that even acknowledged me, seems I was a subject of controversy the minute I manifested here on planet earth, I knew rejection and desperately wanted to give my son the choices and opportunities and experiences I had not been afforded. I made the decision to pair up with my ex husband to try and effectively raise my son together. I left the biological father during my pregnancy for several reasons.

Before I go further into depth of the subject I am going to delve into a bit of insight about my son. First here is a recent photo of him. Beautiful right?

He is the single greatest event of my life. Often He teaches me more things than I teach him. For instance we could be in the ugliest torn down environment possible and he will be the first to find the positive aspects about things that often escape you or I . He is brave, not only does he live with the label in regard to ethnicity or race, but he has Asperger’s which to me only makes his quality of thoughts and expression utterly amazing and endearing, Then let’s throw in his type 1 diabetes, Five times a day he must draw blood to monitor his blood glucose levels. He wears an insulin pump, which requires a canula similar to what you would know as an IV one would wear in the hospital, attached to his body at all times. My son has been this way since he was 18 months old. He spent a week in intensive care when the diagnosis occured I called into work one day because I could see he had labored breathing, and was urinating to much, he was almost in complete diabetic shock, thank God I noticed this, because had I left him with the sitter and ignored the strange symptoms of which no one had ever spoken of to me about he most likely would be dead today. See doctors will tell you that as long as your child has a wet diaper during illness that means they are hydrated. He had been throwing up, but his diaper was wet. Little did I know he was urinating his body away.

What diabetes has taught me is to be sure while raising my son to not let his illness or disability take the front seat. To not make a big deal or draw attention to things that makes him or you different from others. Teaching him this principle goes a long long way in how he has come to perceive the world around him. My son displays true courage, he is an example for us, for me, for you.

I have shared with you the above thoughts to paint the picture of where I am heading in this post. Most importantly this post is for my son, he is my reason and purpose to trying to pave a new way of  life for him and all children. So with that I am going to begin to expound upon my view of racism and my suggestions of how we must view such subjects going forward, these suggestions are of extreme importance to consider if we want to build a safe and accepting world for those who have children with disabilities as well as for those who do not, and for those who may one day become a parent. The following paragraphs may have slight to moderate sarcasm. But it’s done so with what I would call dark humor. Let’s begin shall we.

I was unfollowed by the person I had a heated exchange with..OMG…:) then by the same person blocked (gasps) I do declare, then de-friended on Facebook meh, but then I also received a text message from said person letting me know further beyond their actions thus far, that we were DONE.  Now I don’t know about you, but my view of this shows the level of  immaturity I’m dealing with here in regard to a recent exchange on this subject at hand. I may not always share your view, but I’m following you for a reason … Perhaps it’s for the purpose of “keeping it real” perhaps I  admire  you or your writing style… Either way my following you is with purpose. Even though I may disagree with some of your views.

Often times I go down the list of my followers to their profile to see their activity and then check out their recent answers, I learned this style from Xu Beixi she has taught me so much being here~She is simply Amazing~ sorry I tagged you, I try to steer clear of tagging to much, I view it as grab assing(incase your not familiar with the term grab assing it’s slang for bull shit) But in this case I am allowing it in this post. So I happened upon someone who had their recent activity as an upvote on a post with the very person I had the ugly exchange. To be clear aboutexchange it’s an occurrence of giving one thing and receiving another.

I read the post and realized it was about the exchange I had recently in regard to racism, I was surprised that it received any attention because within the post lots of judging came up. Here is a direct quote I found in the comment section from the person in regard to my grammar usage That’s  funny she  frequently misspells and uses incorrect grammar and communication so she further underlines her own ignorance~ Being petty and using gender to make points I mention gender because I leave the words such as He/She out of my post on purpose for several reasons. But attacking another’s grammar is a judgment and racist remark against my education or lack thereof. Anytime someone wears the title of Judgment in regard to things such as this subject nature I’m writing about, all the way down to belittling someone due auto correct because I happen to be on my phone … In my opinion is hitting way way below the belt. Further more Brining up my race then getting pissed of if  I try to explain why race is not relevant for change to occur and still they are bringing up my sons race or lack thereof or words such a cognition (which in my opinion they clearly lacked) is deplorable and sounds to me like that person may have a chip or ten on their shoulder. Although I can see how this person would state these judgments being as they feel repressed.

To proceed with the point of my post, although points are indeed lost most always nonetheless, I’m going to give it a try once again with a bit more finesse… Here we go…Racism.. That word just stirs up the pot, doesn’t it. Racism does indeed stretch beyond the boundaries of its humble origins. It covers a whole lot of issues we encounter each and everyday. Originally used to describe those who have inferior or indifferent feelings about black human beings.

Today it is an umbrella word. I believe It’s a word that can cover various subjects in regard to prejudice or discrimination, as well as stereotyping. It’s also alive in ones self with regard to repression one may feel, thinking that the world at large is interacting in some way with them, instead of how THEY INTERACT with the world.

The sad thing is that in many ways racism is still here. Often times when we as a race think we have made strides in the right direction against racism the evil entity that is racism pops it’s ugly head out yet again proving It lives and lingers in every group, town, city, states and country, festering in the hearts of humans. One would think that after discussing a topic for the better half of the twentieth century yet lingering and bleeding into the twenty first century that all these discussions have yield is more chaos and confusion but not a single speech or death of those making the speech has really made much leeway. We elect Obama into the white house and that sadly became a subject of racism as well. True change occurs through example and experience.

You would think that for the past 60 years (estimated) we have made the biggest steps in the right direction or so it would seem. Then something like the Trayvon Martin event comes and reminds us that it’s still alive and well, even though we have talked about this issue for years and years… Years. Not much has changed. Sadly All the Trayvon Martins or Token black folk or speeches have yet to change it… Hmmm insane right?
Call my statements above a Red Herring, Post Hoc, Straw man whatever makes you feel better. See I was told that brining up Trayvon was a Red Herring.

In any issue we face, whether be it personal, or issues at large if an approach that has not previously worked for over 60 years and is still being used, yet yielding results that truly make “no difference” then it’s time for new tactics, a new strategy an approach if you will.

When the same tactic that has been used to try and stomp out issues such as race, or issue’s about oneself in relation to racism it’s s called insanity.

It’s insane to think that pointing out differences such as race, or better yet thinking you are a spokes person for such things as race is going to brake the cycle …..that cycle that yet continues, damn that cycle.

If I felt that bringing up such topics was a good approach, I surely had every reason to talk about such being the mother of a child that is mixed in origin, multiracial I like to say. But as you will soon find out as you read further that according to the other person I had the heated exchange with that I wouldn’t know nothing being a white women and all, with a mixed child.

Today after thinking about all that has transpired due to the subject being brought up in the forum, I now feel the need to lend a voice to educate the subject of race. I would like to offer a few suggestions on this worn out subject.

I feel this way because of my son who is mostly black. Why would I say mostly black you ask? Well a person recently told me(Notice I don’t use gender at all in my reference I merely leave the common ground we share together, being we are people/person, and you cannot tell about that person’s gender because I use certain principles when trying to make a point) Any way this person Whom I thought was a friend, who happened to be a black person of a certain demographic said and I quote “I had no place to feel how I do since I was a white women” my my my… Hmmm ..there it is again pointing out difference that ugly race/gender difference card (I say women because you can clearly see I’m the women writing this) but better still in regard to my ideas is that I am a PERSON, a living, breathing, walking, person, just like you. Wow who would’ve known?

This is what I teach as a principle to my son, took look past differences and instead see each other as the human beings we are, funny thing is subsequently my son teaches me daily about things of the heart, about love, acceptance, and how not to notice obvious differences, but instead look for the common element we all share. I would not be bringing up race in regard to my son who is black, (only pointing out racial aspects since this seems to be the ongoing theme) and since I’m Creole, that makes him a bit more than half black. But most importantly it also makes him a human being, same as me, you the person next to you, your neighbor.

To bad that person didn’t look a bit closer in regard to labels. Creole people are a mixture of Spanish, French, and Black ethnicity. To bad that person couldn’t just see me as the person, the human I am, but instead a white women no less. That this person couldn’t see that making race an issue in my opinion in subtle ways makes that person…… Well sorry to say it but racistBut you see that’s my view, however I’m here to say that beyond the realm of Quora my view is greatly shared.

I feel that in order to represent all gender and race my first suggestion on that subject is change the word man and replace the word with  human hence man kind changes to human kind if somehow that stance was a view shared commonly among humans long long ago, Tremendous amount of conflict including slavery would have NEVER existed! But unfortunately that approach was not implemented. Instead we try and ostracize those different from us.

Remember the one commonality we all share, which is being human. Human being, that’s what we are. Hey look I’m thinking surely the person who coined the term “human race” had that principle in mind when doing so, they freely looked upon the element we share, which is we are human first. As long as I’m the mother representing my child of a mixed origin, I definitely feel my view upon such is of extreme relevance.

What can you and I do in your little area of the world to change the view of others you find different or indifferent than yourself you ask?  Simple, apply the principle I teach my son who as stated previously also teaches me and I am still trying to apply in my life and plant the seeds in yours, don’t point out our differences in terms of race pointing out difference on any subjects of this nature simply must cease in order for change. In order to come together we must find a common ground, which has eluded us at this point. Look in the mirror staring back is the reflection of you, and me

But then again what would I know, being white women and all, with a mixed child. I wouldn’t know a thing right?

Personally I think where we are headed in terms of race is what we see happening before our eyes. People are mixing together in union, interracial unions are making up more and more interracial children until one day race in regard to racism will cease, want to know why? Because at that point we will all be one racethen we can’t point fingers when we are mostly all alike, we are indeed one race that is the human race although its not fully recognized. If we continue down the path I clearly see, the trend of humanity is leading us naturally in the direction of one mixed race, which is represented nicely by children such as my son, and myself.

I am going to share something the person who I had this disagreement with so beautifully and aptly put an analogy in my mind when we spoke of better subjects That is “you can’t make change looking in the rear view mirror, only by looking through the windshield” I like this quote It works lest we all fall further into ignorance and continue to look behind us, instead of in front of us.

I would also like to add that should you feel repression about subjects of race, it is the repression YOU ALLOW yourself to feel, you allow yourself to THINK is real. Truly it is real, that is for you its real, not for all of us, certainly not for my son or me at least not with regard in discussion such as these, we prefer to set examples.

So please remember the common element we all share being human.. Human being… That is of course unless you’re an Alien. Then by all means should you be an Alien, that is in ” Alien from outer space” surely then we should sit down… If you can sit, and explore the difference of our existence, being that here on earth we are humans.

But if you’ve traveled light years away to visit us, I would be delighted to sit or stand and exchange the obvious difference we don’t share. Instead of the commonality we all share.

Going forward with regard to this festering subject at hand, I’ll be speaking loudly about my views to try facilitate change needed so my son and the future of our children. So this world will be better than the present conditions we currently still exist in. I’ll try to work on my delivery of such festering topics.

However should you continue to disagree with me, I believe Robert A Heinlein had the right idea in mind when he said “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, guide a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

Oh one more thing if your going to represent me as part of the Felidae species I believe the Leopard would be best considering the many colors of their fur and the fact that teeth and claws would show for sure when protecting her cubs. I believe Scar who was Simba’s evil uncle in my opinion was best represented by the person with whom I exchanged harsh views and blocked me.

Not For Reproduction.