If you’re white, here’s a “compliment” you’ve probably wanted to give once or twice to a black person: “Wow! You’re the whitest black guy I know!” Of course, you don’t say it, if you’re smart — but chances are good that you’re not that smart, so you’ll say it eventually anyway. God almighty, somebody HAS to!
Now, a white person, could mean that any one or more of three ways. 1) “It’s really fun to be surprised by someone who defies the stereotypes I’ve been fed.” 2) “It’s really encouraging to meet an individual who can transcend the behavioral conditioning of their social group.” Or, failing those two (sometimes including them), you’ve got interpretation No. 3: “99.99% of people in your race are **insert awful thing.** You’re the exception that proves the rule.”
Switch perspectives. If you’re black, and you hear this phrase coming from anyone: It’s always No. 3. Even if intellectually you know it’s meant as No. 1 and 2, you’re still going to hear No. 3. And on the off chance you don’t…even well-intended racism is upsetting. Finally, if you’re black and SAY it to another black person…here’s Charles Barkley.
Recently, Barkley made an appearance on Afternoons with Anthony Gargano and Rob Ellis. On the show, he was asked his opinion about statements made about Seattle Seahawks player Russell Wilson by his fellow players. According to them, Wilson isn’t black enough. Which, as you know, is always No. 3.
That set Barkley off on a tear, first lamenting the fact that black people will never do well in the world because of “all the crap in your life from other black people.” He commented on the disturbing culture on the black community when members of it start sounding “like white people” after being educated.
“There are a lot of black people who are unintelligent, who don’t have success––it’s best to knock a successful black person down ’cause they’re intelligent, they speak well, they do well in school, and they’re successful.”
And of course, he’s right — misery loves company. As others have pointed out, the same could be said of anyone raised in the ghetto who’d rather read and write than drink and get high. They don’t tend to have many friends…because to others, setting the bar at ankle height means never having to say “I failed.”
And, often in the black community, that’s when No. 3 comes out of its box.