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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Black White Nonsense

I don’t watch much TV these days. Some wrestling here and there, the occasional cop drama (The Shield, The Wire, etc.) and that’s really it. When I can watch TV I usually just watch the news and typically I settle for the most entertaining of the bunch, Fox News.

Wait; come back, my story gets better!

However, last week I had to travel to NY for some personal business and by late Saturday night, I was so worn out that I ended up watching the first show that even looked remotely interesting. That show happened to be FX’s new reality show “Black White” which is produced by rapper turned actor extraordinaire Ice Cube.

The premise of the show is that we have two families, one black and one white, whom will live together in a house for a certain period of time and will be made to look like the opposite of their race; the black family will be turned white and the white family turned black, through the magic of Hollywood makeup. Then, once each family member has been altered, they are to go out and experience the world as a new race and report back to the producers, hilarity ensues.

Just from the previews, I thought this show looked ridiculous but you’d be surprised what you’ll watch when you are dog-tired and TNA Impact isn’t on for another hour. As I watched the plot for this episode unfold I had an epiphany based on the behavior of the players in this reality drama. When it comes to race relations, black people in general have the personality of a victim borderline personality disorder.

That’s right, I said it, black people in general, when the issue of race comes seem to act like they have borderline personality disorder.

Now just what the heck is borderline personality disorder, you are asking?

A person with a borderline personality disorder often experiences a repetitive pattern of disorganization and instability in self-image, mood, behavior and close personal relationships. This can cause significant distress or impairment in friendships and work. A person with this disorder can often be bright and intelligent, and appear warm, friendly and competent. They sometimes can maintain this appearance for a number of years until their defense structure crumbles, usually around a stressful situation like the breakup of a romantic relationship or the death of a parent.

Relationships with others are intense but stormy and unstable with marked shifts of feelings and difficulties in maintaining intimate, close connections. The person may manipulate others and often has difficulty with trusting others. There is also emotional instability with marked and frequent shifts to an empty lonely depression or to irritability and anxiety. There may be unpredictable and impulsive behavior which might include excessive spending, promiscuity, gambling, drug or alcohol abuse, shoplifting, overeating or physically self-damaging actions such as suicide gestures. The person may show inappropriate and intense anger or rage with temper tantrums, constant brooding and resentment, feelings of deprivation, and a loss of control or fear of loss of control over angry feelings. There are also identity disturbances with confusion and uncertainty about self-identity, sexuality, life goals and values, career choices, friendships. There is a deep-seated feeling that one is flawed, defective, damaged or bad in some way, with a tendency to go to extremes in thinking, feeling or behavior. Under extreme stress or in severe cases there can be brief psychotic episodes with loss of contact with reality or bizarre behavior or symptoms. Even in less severe instances, there is often significant disruption of relationships and work performance. The depression which accompanies this disorder can cause much suffering and can lead to serious suicide attempts.

One of the main elements of recognizing someone with BPD is projection of feelings onto others. What the BPD person will typically do, and what I saw the black folks in this show do is ascribe particularly intense and negative emotions to their white counterparts, when they themselves were the ones feeling those emotions. In other words, the black family kept insinuating that the white family was racist or that everything they did was a subtle knock on the black race when in fact it was the black family that continually displayed intolerance.

The first example started right at the beginning of the show. The two moms are sitting with their dialect coach to learn how to speak with the inflection of the race they are playing. On the practice sheet in front of them are a list of words, one of which is “bitch.” The white mom then says in what was obviously a playful manner, “Yo bitch!” Now I’m not saying the white woman made the best choice there but haven’t we all made a wet-fart-in-church type joke that we thought was in the spirit of the moment and it turned out not to be so funny. You can accuse her of being a dork and little on the stupid side but she wasn’t being a racist by any stretch of the imagination.

However, the black mother of course goes right off the deep end. At that moment and for the majority of the episode, the black mother goes on and on and on and on and on and on about this woman is a racist and nobody calls a black a bitch and blah blah blah. The white practically begs for forgiveness and explains quite clearly that it was an innocent remark bred in naïve stupidity. Not having says the black mother, clearly the white woman is racist in the mind of the black woman.

But that’s not all that happened.

Now the white woman is in her black person makeup and the two women are shopping the black part of town at a street market. Mind you, the whole purpose of being there is to shop where black people, for what black people might buy. They walk into a clothing store and one of the wares being sold is a dashiki. Granted you don’t see too many average black people donning the dashiki at the mall but at least some do wear them or the shopkeeper wouldn’t be selling them. The white woman sees one she likes and buys it. Of course the black woman sees this yet again as example of racism and that the white has gone “too far.”

There were a few more examples where the same thing happens. The white folks try in earnest to experience life as black people and the blacks folks in turn call them racist. That is when it hit me, it isn’t that the while folks on the show hate blacks at all; the black folks hate white people and apparently are uncomfortable saying so out loud. So, like a client with BPD, they project their own feelings of hate and anger on to white people, crying racism at every turn.

It isn’t just on “Black White” that I’ve noticed this pattern. I’ve worked with black families, from all different strata’s of life and this pattern has repeated itself . Any challenge or feeling of unease that a black person is made to endure, that would be typical among any other combination of races seems to be met with cries of racism. It is obvious to me that the reason is, deep down, on some level, their exists to this day, a seething hatred of the white race in black people that no matter what happens, will always show itself in times of stress. And as evidenced by the characters on “Black White” this hatred will typically be projected on whites that have long ago learned to accept black people as their brothers and sisters.

To paraphrase Dennis Miller, but that’s just my opinion, I could be a racist myself.


Blogger A Virgin Tomorrow said...

I've been screaming about collective black BPD for years. It's sooo obvious!

Mental health is still very taboo for black folks but sadly we are suffering from a mental health crisis of enormous proportions.

1:29 PM


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