It’s as Kermit the Frog wistfully sang: It’s not easy being green. Apparently, it’s even tougher being black, although help is available for those who seek it.
The picture below is of Rachel Dolezal, the white Spokane NAACP president, who is currently enjoying her anti-Warholian fifteen minutes of infamy for trying to pass herself off as black.
Joke’s on her, meantime — literally. The book is by comedian Baratunde Thurston, who writes:
My version of being black adheres as much to the stereotypes as it dramatically breaks from them. And that’s probably true for most of you reading this: if not about blackness itself, then about something related to your identity. Through my story, I hope to expose you to another side of the black experience while offering practical, comedic advice based on my own painful lessons learned.
An example of one of those painful lessons from an interview he gave NPR in 2012, the year the book came out:
When Thurston went to school [at Sidwell Friends, no less], his teachers shortened his name — which means “one who is chosen” in Nigeria — and started calling him “Barrington.” They later shortened it to “Barry.”
“Baratunde was a little strange for them,” he says. “I was a child and had no freedom….”
Gee, poor kid. I can’t imagine the ordeal he went through. When telephone solicitors and customer service reps to this day call me “Mr. Portony” or “Porotny” or some other variation based on a rearrangement of the letters, I just laugh good-naturedly over having received a difficult-to-pronounce surname (which, by the way — since we’re exploring roots here — is Russian for “tailor”).
At least the name was difficult-to-pronounce until Philip Roth immortalized it — as the handle of a deeply neurotic character who has sex with food, no less — which has afforded me far more hilarity. Note to next person who decides to ask me what my complaint is: There were 999,999 people before you who cracked the same “joke.”
The point here is we all have own shtick to deal with — at least most of us do anyway. It’s what you do with your personal cross to bear that makes all the difference. If you are Brian Young, a Navajo actor who has decided that wearing war paint and feathers in films is too hard, then so be it. Give the man some room. As long as he isn’t “forbidding” non-Indians from viewing films that show his ancestors in full Hollywood regalia, I say more power to him. As for me, I’m still waiting for my New York Jews hat to arrive.
- Why I won’t wear war paint and feathers in a movie again
- American Indian rights group receives unexpected reaction to thought experiment
- Obama: I’d consider changing Redskins’ name
- CA high school feeling pressure to drop offensive ‘Arab’ masco
- University refuses to find replacement for non-PC white male mascot
- American history lesson ponders: ‘What if they called my Jeep a Jeep Jew?