Monday, September 26, 2005

Imitation of White

Good afternoon, kids!

Within moments, an Angry Black Bitch is leaving on a jet plane, and I’m left with some pretty big shoes to fill here in her absence. Now, I’m not saying she has big feet, because I was taught that it is not proper to discuss the size of a woman’s foot in public.

You see, where I’m from that’s called home-training.

It’s also called having a lick of sense in your head, because I know that talking about an Angry Black Bitch’s shoe size would likely result in having said shoe whopped upside my head once she returns from her vacation. Let’s just say, for a little extra dose of CYH (cover your head), that her feet are dainty and small, her shoes are always stunning and that her toes are always perfectly painted.

For those of you who may be wondering who the hell I am in the first place, let me introduce myself. My name is Rob Thurman and I am lucky enough to call a Bitch my friend, my colleague and my collaborator in the United Church of Bitchitude and Latter-Day Drunks. She sits right next to me and Monday through Friday, and I live a couple of blocks from a Bitch and a Bitch’s sister, which comes in handy when I drive their drunk asses home like I did last week….um….twice.

Most mornings, I will stroll up into our office on my bicycle (late) –and after a cup of coffee and 4 cigarettes, I am ready to engage a Bitch with an assessment of Katie Couric’s colonic health or some mind-numbing misdeed that recently has come to our attention.

I also turn to a Bitch for advice, as do many of you. We all know that sometimes it is beneficial to turn to others for guidance and, sometimes, correction. I thought that I’d share a story with y’all today that touches on being angry, appreciating Blackness and well-intentioned bitches. I’ll also speak of guidance and my own mother, whose own bitchiness is not in question. Once, after a heated argument, I called my older brother a son-of-a-bitch and my mother took off her shoe and whooped my ass with it.

That’s home-training for ya…and it’s what can bring an Angry Black Bitch and someone White Like Me together in the first place.

Now, I may look white, but I’ve always felt like a phony, like I’m in disguise. See, I grew up (legally) poor, fat and gay on a farm in rural Kentucky, ten miles from the closest town. I wasn’t actually aware I was poor until some White Lady Guidance Counselor pointed to my parent’s income on line 14c of a college application and said something about desirable demographical diversity and got all giddy and excited.

It’s kind of a bitch, being 16 years old, and suddenly being told you’re demographically diverse, when all you thought you were was kinda bookish and well-intentioned.

I was, however, made aware (almost daily) of being fat and gay. There’s just something about being rather rotund and wanting to play Wonder Woman in kindergarten that sticks with you throughout your life in a small farming community.

As I grow older and the festering wounds of childhood become self-deprecating blogging fodder, I still find myself very annoyed with a world that, on the surface, I’m supposed to be able to access with grace and ease as a reasonably attractive Caucasian male. You see, I might pass for white, but it’s not an identity I want to claim.

The way I see it: white people are trifling and white people bullshit is fucking everything up in this country.

On any given day, I will bitch to a Bitch about “reeducation” efforts in Kentucky that are teaching children that their Southern accents are bad and wrong. We’ll go out to lunch at a soul food restaurant and I will holler to the high heavens that the small restaurants back home that once offered decent Southern cooking have been bulldozed and replaced by McDonalds. I look around the nation and see bullshit going on in Arizona, Kansas and Pennsylvania, where some holy rollers are forcing intelligent design into the classroom. Across the ocean, the native folks in Hawaii are fighting to keep their schools and brown folks are getting herded up and/or shot in [insert any number of locations here].

And to make matters worse, up in my bedroom, gay white boys look at me like I’m crazy when I say the best concert I’ve seen this year featured Jill Scott, Queen Latifah and Erykah Badu. These dizzy queens have never tasted the sugar water and cannot imagine why one would want to in the first place.

And the weight of all this white people bullshit leaves me feeling like such an imposter -- and some days, it’s more than I can bear.

Being a solution-minded person, I decided to dig deep into my ancestry, with the hopes of finding something, some glimmer of a heritage that I could be proud of.

So, I called my mother…

Mom: Hello?

Rob: Hi, Mom!

M: Hi, Robbie! How are you?

R: Fine. But I don’t think I’m white. Well…. I don’t wanna be white anymore.

M: What are you talking about, now?

R: Was Mamaw an Indian?

****For the sake of clarification, my mother’s mother was called Mamaw and my father’s mother was called Granny****

M: No. I told you before – many times -- that her grandmother or her great grandmother was. That’s where your high cheekbones and the black hair come from. Her people were called West. That’s all I know.

****I’d like to interrupt again. It occurred to me my grandmother’s people could, perhaps, be related to Dr. Cornel West. After all, Dr. West is a noted Black educator, philosopher and speaker. It also occurred to me, as a dyed-in-the-wool homosexual, it could be a metaphorical reference to the Wicked Witch of the West. Brown or green – at least it wasn’t white.****

R: Well, I’m not sure that’s good enough.

M: Good enough for what?

R: To turn our farm into a casino or legitimize a drug-induced spirit quest.

M: Are you on drugs?

R: No. I’m just mad at white eyes.

M: Are you drinking again?

R: NO! But I think my problem with booze is because I’m part Native American

M: I think your problem with booze is that you can’t keep your mouth shut.

****corrective, accurate verbal bitch slap****

R: NO! If Native American genetics can make my hair black and produce stunning cheek bones, then couldn’t, conceivably, my battle with the booze be linked to higher alcoholism rates among many Indian tribes?

M: I…..suppose. I just never touched the stuff, given our…family issues…so I wouldn’t know. Why you drank in the first place has always disappointed me.

****corrective, guilt-ridden verbal bitch slap****

R: Well….um…..I bet I’m part Black since I get along so well with the soul sisters.

M: You didn’t learn that ‘til you went out there to college.

****This will be addressed later****

R: Well…there are all those Black people named Thurman in town.

M: I know I have told you, repeatedly, that those folks are the descendents of the slaves of those other Thurman’s – the ones that lived in that big house down the road. Your Grandpa’s people did not have slaves.

R: Well…maybe Grandpa’s people were….umm…..the forbidden love children of slaves and slave owners. It happened, Mom! We watched Roots, remember?!?

M: You are drinking again!

R: No. I’m just mad.

M: About what?

R: White eyes.

M: When you get some sense, call me back.

R: Fine. Bye.

M: Bye.

So….there you have it.

I’m still angry, only Black by association and my Native American bitchiness could only be either 6.25% or 3.125% proof. That’s not enough to legally change my driver’s license, birth certificate or any other official document, but it is enough to get me through today – and it reminds me I need to join NORML.

It also reminds me that I need to call my mother when I get home tonight.

In the absence of a Bitch, a mother’s verbal bitch slap may be necessary, just to keep things right in a world that so often seems so wrong. And my neck will no doubt be jerking during part of the conversation. I do, indeed, know what I’ve learned by keeping company with some Angry Black Bitches.

And in dereference to my mother and some home-training, that’s a conversation I will keep to myself. She’ll whoop my ass for sure when she ever finds out I put our family’s issues up here in the first place.

Have a good day and watch out for irate women brandishing shoes!

--Rob Thurman (pictured above -- braced for impact.....)


BaltimoreLenore said...

Well hello Rob! Don't feel to bad about how white you are, just consider it your "white man's burden"....


P.S. Hats off - that was a very well written post.

Sedie said...

Nice post! I think you may already be honorary "black". . . ask a Bitch!

Tiger Lilly said...

Covering my mouth and trying not to laugh out loud at work. You just made my day!!!

It's Me, Maven... said...

Rob, fabulous post! You did a bitch proud!

And I can relate where you're coming from (although I don't have any native American or black blood in me) regarding considering one's self "Black by association."

I posted something last week to my blog, the post entitled, "Black like me." I'd love it if you had the time and energy to read it and give me your thoughts?

Postscript: And I say this with nothing but fondness, you're cute... for a white boy:)

It's Me, Maven... said...

PS: Jill Scott is a Goddess.

BunnyGull said...

respectfully, as a white woman,
i must say that it's very tricky to go into this 'i'm black by experience/association/fellow feeling' thing and i would advise against it.
if you don't experience the prejudice and hatred associated with being black, you might not want to claim 'feeling/being black'.
i know your heart is in the right place and i know that ABB loves you but i feel obligated to make this point, at the risk of being publicly trashed.
because we are white we don't experience the suffering of racism and we don't get to claim any of the benefits of being any minority. even those of us who are 6.25% some minority, gay/lesbian, women, whatever. if we're not black, we are not black and i feel that we ought to respect that.

Robert "kebernet" Cooper said...

Kentucky in tha house! Shout out to all my peeps in Symsonia!

no, not really. I can't imagine going back to that godforsaken place. Though I would like some Starnes BBQ every once in a while.

CrankyProf said...

Here I thought my mamaw was the only one who was like Cl9int Eastwood with a taseteful, low-heeled black pump.

Bravo, Brother Rob!

bold as love said...

Fuck rob, you need some time on the couch-- naw, don't do it, it's the flaws that make us all interesting- growing up white, poor ,fat, and gay in rural Kentucky- shit you had a long row to hoe didn't you. Iam glad to see ABB left such an interesting persona to fill in for her. Rob, as far as claiming to be black/feeling black---just be Rob. I noticed your taste in diva's is similar to mine- Jill Scott gives you your money worth and some-

take care

Jeff said...

Admittedly, the only thing black about me is my heart and occasionally my stare. However, you do realize that if you were part Native American, it would bring you just that much closer to the goddess of all things Amazonian, Lynda Carter dba Wonder Woman.

But then, of course you knew that. Now spin.

Saun said...

Rob, your mother is just in denial. If there is Indian in your family then most likely there is some Blackness in your family too. I used to think I was only Black & Indian and then I found out there was Caucasian ancestry relatively close on both sides of my family. It's probably in there so you might as well claim it.

Homer said...

I was also a poor white rural boy who got to go to college because I made for "great demographic diversity." We were POOR! I, however, was skinny as a rail, which is almost like being fat, only different.

cats said...

rob, you give the rest of us white folk's a good name. thanks and you're doing a fabulous job!

Z-Lady said...

Robert "kebernet" Cooper said...
Kentucky in tha house! Shout out to all my peeps in Symsonia!

no, not really. I can't imagine going back to that godforsaken place. Though I would like some Starnes BBQ every once in a while.

Yes I know Kentucky. About all they are good at is getting mad at one another and staying that way for a lifetime.

Anonymous said...

fat white fag... well, since you are so ashamed of how you were born, i guess you fit right in with your adopted ilk. hating who they are and blaming everyone else. fortunately for all of society, some people feel the need to transcend their environment. think ghandi and MLK hated white people? no, they felt everyone was created EQUAL and deserved to be treated as such. if you were bookish and well intentioned, you would educate yourself and stay away from the cock. people like you are the reason why hate crimes still exist. if our society (including dumb asses like you) would forget about racism instead of making it worse, we could all get over it. yes, injustices did happen a long long time ago, some still happen - do we really need to keep track of the score? i was denied a college education because i was white and middle class - do you think i hate being white and middle class? no, i just signed up and defended your freedom to be fucktarded. you make me sick. some of the best people i know are black, some of the others are also "ethnically diverse" and they dont care, they are WHO they are, not what they look like. i'm not racist, i hate all dumb asses - and you have certainly proven yourself a dumb ass. if you cant get along in america, get out of america. you dont deserve the priveledges you enjoy.