It all started innocently enough. April is an old friend from high school who I’ve become reacquainted with through Facebook. She and I chat from time to time there, she’s visited my blog, and we’ve talked briefly about us both being into black culture.
The other week, I got this FB message from April:
What’s up Wendy…you should try to find a name for white chicks that hang on the fringes of black culture. They call straight chicks that hang on the fringes of gay culture, FAG HAGS.
I liked her question, since I love thinking up titles for my blog posts and memoir pieces, and I thought, yes, what’s in a name? What should we be called?
So, yesterday I messaged April on Facebook to try and brainstorm a name for “white chicks that hang on the fringes of black culture.” And, here begins our Q & A session. Please remember this is Facebook chat, and so our answers may seem clipped:
Wendy Jane: I do want to write a blog post about your mentioning we should come up with a name for us white people that hang on fringes of black culture.
April: they call us wiggers
I asked my daughter
I don’t think I personally hang around the fringes of black culture
I think you definitely do though
I’m all enmeshed into it
WJ: Can you explain?
A: At my Thanksgiving table…I’m the only white person
on the outside
WJ: I forget–were you married to a man that was black
A: no, I just had a black child who also has two black children.
and none of my family members…speak slang or need to have “ghetto status symbols” to be black
wigger is offensive
I like BLOXY…
which is Black by Proxy
it’s the best I can come up with
but we are not GHETTO BLACKS
we don’t speak slang
we don’t wear weird clothes
we are not judging each other by what label is on our jeans or sneakers or car
we are helping each other grow into good people
WJ: All right but all that gets into stereotyping too–to say someone is ghetto black, but I know what you are saying–like remember that girl Susan something from Wilby who was white but talked like she was trying to sound like she was black–yeah I am not that.
A: We have rebelled against black culture actually
WJ: there is much more to black culture than the hip hop culture
A: WENDY…I find blacks very racist
WJ: all groups of people have individuals who are racist
A: when it comes down to it though….a black woman will vote for a black before she will vote for a woman
WJ: but, yeah, there can be black people who don’t like whites or Hispanics….
A: Hillary should have been our president
black women forgot they were women
but they will never forget they are black
WJ: that can be true-there has been so little representation for black people in politics.
A:Hillary was a hundred times more politically qualified for the job
she lost it to a color
that says a lot about what is really going on in black peoples heads
so you can THINK they are not racist
WJ: Anyway, what do you like about being enmeshed in black culture, the black community?
A: I like that I have been BLOXY so long that it’s not a topic of conversations
it just is
it’s not news
like being gay…it never comes up
I just am
WJ: cool-how old is your daughter?
A: 28 🙂
WJ: wow–I’m sure she’s a great young woman with you as her mother
We chit chat a little more about her daughter and my daughters.
A: I know you don’t like to hear my perspective at times on the inner workings of black culture…but I make a very valid point when I mention the black women voters
the truth isn’t always white and fluffy
many black people have turned their back on black culture until they needed the support of the black community
OJ SIMPSON…being one also
black people stand for BLACK whether it’s right or wrong
type whatever you wish…your blog is white and fluffy
has no real meaning
you are too afraid to offend anyone
W: I’m sorry if I seem like I don’t want to hear it–that is not true. I will say that I don’t like to talk politics, and I sometimes have a different point of view which is my own, and which I get from talking to other black people or reading books by black authors.
A: It doesn’t really matter in the end what they say or write…the vote spoke louder
you judge people by their intentions, I judge them by their actions
actions speak louder than words
We could have a great talk show together
The phones would be blowing up and I would be taking all the heat
I wish you the best
Enjoy the rest of the day
W: I am hurt by what you say, but you are entitled to your opinion. I just feel we all have to be careful about what we say because we end up stereotyping people.
There are many ways to be black.
A: I am not trying to hurt you…I was kinda hurt you didn’t know my daughter has black kids
I only have two hundred pics of her up there
if I were black WENDY, maybe you would have looked!
W: and if we did have a talk show you would not be the only one taking the heat
I’m sorry about that- I have seen the pictures and they are beautiful grandkids–I was trying to be a good journalist and get the facts. They could have had a white father. I knew your daughter was bi-racial. I didn’t want to get the facts wrong
A: It’s no big deal
you’re wonderful..enjoy your journey
one life to a customer
I find you racially biased
but that’s your privilege…you have only been dipping your feet into the black stuff since your divorce right?
W: Thank you for opening this up into something deeper. I’m certain we all have biases. No one escapes that. And, I have been interested in black culture since I was a kid. And had serious relationships with black guys in my teens and twenties so used to be more enmeshed in it too.
I ended up getting bumped off-line on my computer, and we wrapped up a little later, with me thanking her, and her thanking me for being “a gracious interviewer.”
This was pretty much the first interview I’ve ever done. It was brief, and it was on Facebook, so the flow was rapid, we were typing and crossing over each other’s questions and answers. I now realize in my transcription, that there are things I would have spent more time responding to, and a few places where I feel I put my foot in my mouth, and am not proud of what I said.
I am not proud of saying that bit about the white girl who tried to sound black. What does it mean to sound black? And, in that same segment I also say, …”I know what you are saying.” That is not to say I agree with what April is saying about “ghetto blacks.” I meant it to say, I understand what you are aiming to say, even though I felt strongly that she was making negative statements about what her perceptions of certain segments of the black community are. It’s like me saying, “I’m white, but I don’t act like white trash….”
I also made a comment about all races have individuals within the group that are racist, but remember from my readings and talks with others here that black people cannot be considered racist–that when a group of people have been oppressed and have experienced institutionalized racism from groups of individuals who considered themselves in a superior position, that the oppressed people cannot be called racist, but can be considered biased.
I also strongly disagreed with the statements April made about black voters, and what goes on in the heads of black people, but wanted to get back on track with the subject matter we had planned to talk about.
I do have to say, I love April’s line about me …”dipping my feet into the black stuff” and laugh at the way I get defensive by trying to prove my credibility with my dating history.
April, you, of course, need to have a turn to make your own follow up comments too here.
And, in all seriousness, I do have to thank April for her honesty, and for opening up a much deeper discussion than the one originally planned for. I did feel wounded when she said she thought my blog was “white and fluffy” and had no real meaning, and that I was too worried about offending people. Those statements gave me pause.
I do hate conflict. I don’t ever want to offend people. I want people to like me. I don’t like rocking the boat. Race is such a loaded topic, and I find myself always trying to be careful with what I say here and the way I say it. I met a white woman who is writing a book on white privilege who warned me about “stepping in my own s%#t” when I write or speak about race. She wasn’t kidding.
Yet, I know I am who I am, and what my intentions with this blog are. I’m also certain this journey will take many different, unplanned paths. I know that my approach is to write about race in a light, humorous way via my personal experiences, with the hope that these little stories will open up conversations about things that can be difficult to talk about. And, that’s exactly what happened with April and me when all we thought we were going to do was think up a funny name for “white chicks that hang around the fringes of black culture.”
Please let me know what you think. April says at the end…”that’s your privilege.” And, yes, I come from a place of white privilege. I cannot, and neither can she know what it is like to be black. I am only learning from my connections, and from my readings.
Is Wendy Jane’s Soul Shake white and fluffy? Does it have meaning; value? Please be honest. I especially need to hear from people of color on this one. Thank you.