October 3, 2010
I Hereby Declare Myself BlackBy Clint Fiore
Okay, so I'm not black, but I'm considering switching races.
I admit, I was a little jealous when there were so many African-American-only scholarships being handed out to my classmates in high school, but there was never a scholarship for Chubby White Kids Only. I sometimes wonder if, if I had just a tiny bit more skin pigment, I would not have any student loan debt right now. My guess is that if I added skin pigment to my winning combination of high test scores, communication acumen, high grades, and early-developed chest hair, I'd be debt-free!
Now, as an adult, I find special business loans, grants, and job opportunities for minorities and women that, again, I have no shot at...or do I?
What if I switched? I figure if a man can wake up one day and decide he's tired of urinal cakes and wants to be a woman, have a snip-snip here or there and be legally treated as such for the rest of his life, then switching races surely should be a walk in the park.
Sometimes the crazy little anti-racism leprechaun in my head whispers, "Just fill out the application and say you're black!" I've never had the courage to do it, but I've often thought about it.
(The closest I've ever come to inblacktrination was back in my high school days: entering the African American Heritage Bowl, a city-wide high school game show-like quiz competition that queried contestants on black history. My two über-white friends and I won first place! We were the only white team in the contest, and everyone was very good-natured and had fun. I really do enjoy and am fascinated by black history in the U.S. and the incredibly heroic figures like George Washington Carver, MLK Jr., Jackie Robinson, Booker T. Washington, and many others.)
...Back on topic: I imagine if I say I'm black, and put a really great application together for whatever black-exclusive award, and win, then the following sequence of events will happen:
I show up to receive the award, and the person presenting it says, "Hey man, not cool! You're not black, and you can't have this award. It's for African-Americans only." To which I reply, "How do you know I'm not black? There's probably someone from Africa somewhere among my ancestors. How black do you have to be to get this award, exactly?" To which the response would likely be along the lines of "blacker than you are" -- to which I'd have to ask a series of follow-up questions like:
Would a white-skinned South African that has become an American citizen qualify as African-American?
Would a black-skinned American of indigenous Australian descent who has no connection whatsoever to Africa qualify as African-American?
Is someone whose white mom got impregnated by a Kenyan who disappeared and is raised like a preppy white kid by his white family still always considered black and never considered white?
If 50% white means you're black, does 51% white mean you're black? 75%? 90%?
Is it about skin color?
What about black albinos?
Is it about Africa? What about Aborigines and dark-skinned Asians and Latin Americans?
If any of these exceptions and anomalies can call himself black if he feels like it, why can't I?
Do you find it ironic that you're discriminating against me because of my skin color?
I imagine my annoying case would be appealed all the way up to the secret all-black supreme race court guarded by black panthers with sharp teeth and nightsticks, who would be forced to finally define -- in "black and white" -- where the boundaries of black end and white begin, so they can finally conclusively vote me out of their club.
All I would ask for is a clear definition, a litmus test to make sure I'm unable to fit inside the black box.
Truth be told, we're all just various shades of gray genetically. When you stop and think about what is underneath all the race tensions in America, a country where everyone here migrated here from somewhere else at some point, it all seems a bit silly. Don't you think?