I respect you. I wanted to be a rapper. I wanted to be a ball-player. Today, like most black men under 40, I am neither. Please complicate your analysis. You do the Dougie when convenient. You brush your shoulder off when convenient. You admonish black folks for not being you when convenient. You often talk to us like they’re watching. Because they are. In addition to all that “real talk” tough love stuff, black folks talk to black folks about white supremacy. Both of you y’all know this is true. We worry about your safety in spite of twisted real talk. We wish you would “real talk” to them about race and responsibility like we’re watching sometimes. Please complicate your analysis.
Today, I teach, write, and rap to myself. I am an above average writer and teacher. But when I’m on, I’m a problem, chile! I am working on being better at being human. I am not a father. Nor am I a husband. I am an American witness, an American writer. The most mediocre white man at my bougie job has 16x the wealth I have. You already know this. Please complicate your analysis. My grandmother has the beginnings of dementia, and she is still way smarter than me or you. She was only allowed to work the line at a chicken plant, work as a domestic and sell pound cake on the weekend. She has no wealth, but lots of love for both of you. She prays for your safety. She says that white folks have both of you niggas scared to tell the truth. She has witnessed a lot. She is not a liar. Please complicate your analysis.
Working class white security guards have entered my office 3x times asking to see my ID. Every time, I robotically tell them, “Fuck you. Show me yours.” I desperately cling to intellectual superiority over them; they desperately claim whiteness and relative wealth over me. This has nothing, and everything, to do with my wanting to be a rapper and baller. For better and worse, most rappers rhyme to us. Most ballers perform for us. You already know this. Why would you ever tell a throng of black men and black women to work twice as hard as white folks when there are so many examples of black brilliance and genius? Centering white mediocrity leads to black folks being just a little bit better than mediocre. I want to be better than my grandmother, the greatest American I know. She wants you to tell the truth. I respect you. We respect you. Please complicate your analysis.
Imani Perry writes books you should read. Please tell the truth.