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Black Enough For You?

Last week I joined an online community that is an offshoot of a website dedicated to a radio show. This show and its host and co-host are well known and well liked in the black community. I often tune in on the drive home from work and I’m always impressed with the host’s efforts to encourage his audience towards effective networking and entrepreneurial success.  Because I’d been hearing him talk about his online communities for years, I decided to check one out.

I set up a profile and added a picture of myself and my book’s cover. I described myself as- among other things- happily married and interested in professional networking.  Well, damn it if a bunch of men didn’t start sending me friend requests. I could go off on a tangent about how men only seem to come a-calling when you’re not looking for one, but I’ll save that treat for later. Baffled, I politely accepted a few of the friend requests then turned my attention to the blog feature, which I used to share a couple of my recent posts.

My post about the shooting in Arizona drew one weird response. Nothing disturbing. Just the pessimistic rambling of a really old-fashioned guy. Then I received a comment regarding my flattering post about Oprah’s new television network.  Now that caused me to have a cobra moment.    

“Donna,” you ask. “What the hell is a ‘cobra moment’?” Well, since you asked, maybe five years ago, Conan O’Brien’s show did a comedy sketch about fictional television show pilots that never made the cut. One was a pilot for a show called My Wife, the Cobra.  Some poor schmuck was married to the meanest cobra you’d ever want to see. He seemed to be such a loving husband, too. Kind and solicitous. But no matter what he said or did, his wife would go all stiff in the neck as cobras tend to do, then without warning, she’d strike and send him fleeing in agony. While she was foul tempered at best, I really envied her swift, silent power and precision.

After I read the comment about my Oprah Winfrey Network post, I went all stiff in the neck and deleted my profile.

Because I deleted my profile, I will have to paraphrase the comment, but it was something to the tune of “How come Oprah doesn’t have black experts on her shows? There are plenty of black lawyers and doctors she could feature instead of Dr. Phil…” And I thought to myself, Donna, pack your stuff and take your profile the hell away from this website because there are still too many people you will never be black enough for, Honey Bunny.

I suppose it’s only natural that a statement that BACKWARDS would make me think of the 1960’s, when I was a little dark skinned girl growing up in Kansas, playing with kids who liked to gather in a circle and stick out their arms to see whose skin was the darkest. The darkest spoke in the wheel was the loser. Yep. It seemed backwards to me at the time. Now it seems about as enlightened as a caveman’s club. Or the square tires on Fred Flintstone’s car. I often “lost” that game, by the way, which is a fact that, some would argue, explains my abhorrence of the game. But we know better. In any case, over the next decade it became de rigueur for black people to patronize black businesses. In the ‘60’s my mother took me to a black dentist and a black pediatrician. My parents used the services of black attorneys.  Fast forward to 2011 and here we have a citizen of a country lead by a black president criticizing a black female billionaire for not inviting the colored doctor from down the street to be on her show. Do we still need proof that black people can become doctors? Really? Now? Damn it.

I’d rather have proof that black people are willing to give one another the freedom to be who they are.

Because while I was the darkest spoke in the wheel, I was also the one teased for talking white. Little Miss Oreo. Black on the outside, white on the inside. Too black and too white at the same damned time. Ain’t that a bitch?

If we black people could just do that one little thing- give each other the freedom to be who we are- I have a feeling a lot of our issues would go the way of the caveman. As things stand, we’re still spending way too much energy setting limits for ourselves. Which means we are sabotaging potential, stifling creativity, obstructing dreams, and rejecting God given gifts in the name of keeping it black.  

I don’t have the patience to write for an audience who thinks Oprah Winfrey needs to do more for black people. Expecting her to do anything simply because she is black is denying her the freedom to be herself.

I realize that the online community I abandoned after a week has members who are enlightened and progressive and modern and free thinking. But the confines of that group are simply too narrow for my wing span, I suspect.  I’m not being critical. I’m not saying I don’t love a challenging debate, because I do. What I am saying is, I’d like to limit my cobra moments so as not to waste my venom on some out-dated mess.


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