Getting published is a real be-yatch! Hear about my ups, downs and a few random rants in between.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Everyday Schizophrenia

Scrolling through the television channels with Princess Bea, I happened upon Hip Hop Harry, one of those Barney-ish shows where there's a human in costume interacting with a bunch of real-life kids.

We came in on the tail end, so I can't say for sure what lessons Harry was teaching. But it involved lots of hip hop dancing and rapping. Very multi-culti where the kids were concerned - black, white and Asian. Maybe Latino - I can't be sure.

So, I listened to Hary's voice for some form of ethnic lilt to identify the person inside as an African American. After all, hip hop originated in the black community. It's only right that Harry is black, right?

Well, I don't think Harry was black and my first thought was, Now how are they going to have a Hip Hop kids show and the main character not be black?

I was bothered because, in the back of my mind I wondered, if Hip Hop Harry is voiced by a white person does it signal that blacks are being pushed out of the very genre we created?

Then there was that underlying suspicion that the actor's selection was based less on the best person for the job and more about some sort of industry mumbo jumbo about the white person's voice being less threatening and thus having a broader appeal.

But my very second thought was - hello pot, meet kettle.

The reality is, many (if not most) black Americans suffer from everyday schizophrenia, having to deal with the duality of being 100% immersed in American culture while trying to maintain some sort of separate identity (and allegiance)as a member of the black "community".

Yes, I did go there with the quotes because I am really really confused as to what that means. The black community.

I know what it's supposed to mean - that all African Americans share a generic common bond of being culturally different from our white counterparts (for the sake of simplicty, let's make this a black/white thing. White being any other culture other than black, just for this post).

But, all blacks don't share the same lifestyle, preferences, outlook, or beliefs any more than all whites do.

It's hell, I tell you. Pure hell.

What makes it hell is that I'm always aware of this duality.

Even when it's not top of mind, it's in the back of my mind.

So after feeling the first twinge of annoyance that Hip Hop Harry was not (I assume) black, it occured to me that these were similiar feelings whites had about blacks when we first entered Major League Baseball, when the majority of NBA players became more Hip Hop than mainstream (also I think most Americans felt the same twinge with the increase in international players in the NBA), and I'm sure Lenny Kravitz got his fair share of shit as a black rocker.

Why do we keep doing this to ourselves?

How come, a few years ago when the DC Sniper was terroizing the MD, VA and DC metro area many blacks were muttering, "I hope he's not black." Or some may have even felt confident he wasn't black - because traditionally serial killers (or whatever Mohammad is considered) aren't.

Why did it matter if he was black or white? He was killing indiscriminately.

But it mattered because blacks get enough shit. The last thing we need is for one of us to go off half-cocked doing anything that will help folks put us into another general box.

And as crazy as that sounds - it's true. It's like, Damn did Mohammad miss the last meeting of every single black American when we covered Rule 1473 - We are not serial killers.

And that's the other thing - when a black person does something heinous or just ridiculously stupid we're like "Now they know better. Black people don't do that." But if one of us does something good we're quick to own the success.

Why? Same reason as above only reversed - we want others to know that we're equally as capable of success. In that case we don't mind the broad generalization.

Are you seeing how bad this schizophrenia can be?

I've worked hard to keep the schizophrenia at bay where my book is concerned. I believe and have always said that my book can be enjoyed across the cultural divide -because the book's targets are primarily tween and teen girls with a little drama in their lives i.e. any tween or teen girl.

But that's P living in her own little world.

The book has to live in the real world. So I hold my breath waiting to see how and where it will be marketed and hope it lands squarely among its target no matter what.

Meanwhile, I'll check with everyone at the next Black meeting to make sure we can indeed live with Hip Hop Harry being a white dude.


Blogger Penni Brown said...

I'm supposed to be writing a post on my own blog, but instead I'm procrastinating and I happened across your JORT. I like it. Now, instead of getting back to my task, I'll waste some more time by reading all the back posts. :-)

I like your writing style. I'll be back.

4:18 PM

Blogger Miss P AKA Her Royal Cliqueness said...

Thanks Penni. Glad to have you stop by.

10:17 PM


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