~ INTRODUCTION ~
The following are all black on the outside, white on the inside:
Oreo; Bounty Bar; Coconut; Tom; Uncle Tom; Boot-Licking Uncle Tom; Official Government Issue Uncle Tom; Fried Chicken/Biscuit Eating Uncle Tom; House Nigger; Boy; Foot Shuffling Steppin’ Fetchit; Handkerchief Head; Trojan Horse; Anti-Black-Pro-White; Sambo; Sell Out; Neutralized Negro; Unauthentic Black; De-Blacked; Fraud; Con Man; Ventriloquist Dummy; Right-Wing Conspirator; White Wannabe; Clarence, (as in Thomas); Non-Practicing Black; Zebra; Black Republican; Reverend Pork Chop; Judas.
I have provided the foregoing ready reference list of descriptive phrases for my critics, those nattering nabobs of negativity, and defenders of the arbitrarily established politically correct “Black Position.” The preceding are but a sampling of the more polite titles reserved for use on those Blacks who fail to toe the party line. Let the record show, I have already been called all, or most all, of the above (including some I choose not to dignify by repeating).
Yellow Dogs Come In All Colors
She was a mother, a Baptist, a Democrat, a White, and from the South (in that order) sending her son into the world via the military. “Son,” she admonished him sternly, “be a good boy and always remember - we are Baptists and Democrats.” Having been raised a Baptist, he had some idea what Baptists do, but precious little information as to how one should conduct oneself as a Democrat. “Mama?” he asked, wanting to please and bring honor to the family, “what does it mean to be a Democrat?” “Well, son,” she paused, “it means… er, ah, ahem”… finally, in a fit of frustration, she gave him the definition he still remembers some 50 years later: “Hell, what damned difference does it make? We believe it anyway!” Apparently, he never did find out, or maybe he did. At any rate, he grew up to become a Presbyterian and a Republican.
Who You Callin’ a Yellow Dog?
In the 1928 presidential elections, senior Senator Tom Heflin (D-AL) decided not to support New York Governor Al Smith, the Democrat candidate for president. He chose instead, the Republican, Herbert Hoover. Hard-line rank and file Southern Democrats were outraged. Despite the fact that this was Alabama (they were Deep South Protestants and he was Catholic, and a Yankee to boot), dogged party loyalists were determined to support Smith. When asked why, the leader of the hardliners replied, “I’d vote for a yellow dog if he ran on the Democratic ticket.” The press popularized the phrase “I'd vote for a yellow dog…” and subsequently, the phrase “Yellow Dog Democrat” has become a part of the American political lexicon. A “Yellow Dog Democrat” is traditionally someone who votes Democrat, period, no matter the issue or candidate. As a black American who consistently voted Democrat (when I did vote), I easily qualified as a “Black Yellow Dog.” Unfortunately, many black Americans have, as did I, engaged in a deadly game of “follow the leader.”
Made aware of certain historical facts, I began to challenge the flawed concept of voting in blind faith for any party or candidate. Tragically, it seems we have ignored an ancient warning that could easily be applied to many of our African-American leaders: “Beware… they are blind guides. And if the blind guide the blind, both shall fall into a pit.” It is my fond hope that these are, indeed, merely blind guides, for I shudder to consider the alternative. Additional fuel will, no doubt, be added by this quote from Justice Clarence Thomas:
“I have come.... to assert my right to think for myself, to refuse to have my ideas assigned to me, as though I was an intellectual slave.” 1 (Couldn’t have said it better myself, Your Honor)
Born in a small Texas town at the close of the Great Depression to a hardworking laborer and his schoolteacher wife, I know first hand about biscuits and fried chicken (we raised chickens and rolled out biscuits) and I have hands-on experience with doin’ without and hand me downs. Blacks knew “Jim Crow” intimately. Black kids learned early on about lynchings and how to avoid putting oneself in a potential situation and we discussed them when they happened. In the wild, this would have been tantamount to learning survival skills.
In a four-classes-in-one-room, two-room “separate but equal” school, we learned reading, writing, and arithmetic ~ “No Ben, it is not ‘rithmatic.” We also learned discipline and respect for our elders. Every “yes” or “no” to an adult had a “Sir” or “Ma’am” attached to it and all adults came with “Mr.” or “Mrs.” in front of their name. Mrs. Harris taught 1st through 4th grade in Room 1, and Mrs. Jewel (first name, because she was younger) taught 5th through 8th grade in Room 2. Four different grades in the same room, at the same time, all taught by one teacher left no time for youthful exuberance. Recess was for play. Classrooms were for learning. There was little time for individual tutoring. Mama (my 5th through 8th grade teacher) had maxims. One Mama maxim was, “Find things out for yourself. That’s what books are for. Form the habit of reading and you can know.” There was once an old joke about books and black people: “When the white man wants to keep something hidden from black folks, he puts it in a book. He knows the Negro ain’t gonna’ pick up no book.” (Mama didn’t think that was funny.)
Black children were not taught that we were objects of pity, disadvantaged, or underprivileged. We learned the hard facts about slavery from “old folks” and our family histories; some of us had great-grandparents who had been born in slavery. My great-grandfather, Ben Kinchlow, was born a slave.
Everybody in the black community knew who the “ne’r do wells,” “loose” women, and “worthless” men were. Ask any successful black entrepreneur or business owner over fifty and you’ll find we got precious little support from our elders for any concept of being deprived by virtue of being black. Slavery was not an excuse or justification for failure. Back then, black folks’ version of affirmative action was “root hog or die.” My mother, Mrs. Jewel Kinchlow, earned a M.Ed. from Huston-Tillotson, a historically black college in Austin, Texas. Mama, like thousands of other disadvantaged young Blacks, worked her way through college, graduated, went to work, and attended summer school to earn her Master’s Degree. (The original purpose of the HBCU - Historically Black Colleges and Universities - was to provide Blacks the educational opportunities denied by HWCUs (Historically White Colleges and Universities. Often times we have not taken advantage of educational opportunities and much of whatever else we may or may not have done should not be blamed on the system.) No one ever taught, thought, or believed we were the government’s responsibility. “Relief” (aka modern welfare), spoken of in whispers (“not in front of the children”) was not a right, it was a disgrace, and to be “gotten off of” as soon as humanly possible. Black pride wasn’t about Afros, dashikis (African clothing), and boys wearing braids. It was about the girl who didn’t get pregnant out of wedlock, but finished school, and the boy who got a degree or a steady job and supported the girl he had married, not gotten pregnant and abandoned.
Let me be perfectly clear ~ Blacks are not born wards of the state. Our mental capacities are not underdeveloped because of something that happened to our ancestors over 200 years ago. Tens of millions of words and countless scholarly works have been written about the “Black,” “Negro,” “Afro,” and now “African-American” experience or condition, before, during, and after what few intelligent people would deny was an egregious stain on the fabric of the American experiment…slavery. This small work should not be misconstrued as exhaustive in any sense of the term. It is merely one man’s attempt, as Justice Thomas suggested, “to refuse to have my ideas assigned to me.”
Following Mama’s advice, I formed the reading habit, and I have been shocked, dismayed, enlightened, and encouraged by what I’ve read. I challenge all who may disagree with what they read here to research the historical facts, arrive at your own conclusions, and don’t let me or anyone else make decisions for you.
Think for yourself.
(By the way, I didn’t put this stuff in a book to hide it from black folks. I didn’t think that joke was funny either.)