If you have seen this video elsewhere, what was your initial reaction?
If you haven't, it's very important that you watch it before reading ahead.
I am so not kidding. Do it. I'll wait. You need not watch the whole thing unless you want to; a minute will be fine.
Last month, I saw this video on YouTube, and since then, a few blogs. I think it should be used as a social experiment to test for racism.
Comments I've seen show a lot of people, white and black, assume the kid is and will grow up ghetto and ignorant.
They are so into the negative stereotypes in their head that they:
- Make criticism that the child won't ever learn anything of value. They assume this simply because she dances so well before she can talk or learn her ABCs. By the way, not all black babies can do this.
- Are blind to the books in the background. Did you see them?
- Appear oblivious to the affectionate bond and the fun between the baby and teenager, perhaps an older sibling, and don't seem to value this. It's like it's irrelevant.
-State the home is dirty and ghetto. Looked like a reasonably clean apartment to me.
- Consider it irrelevant and unimportant that the baby is rhythmically gifted.
- Criticize the music and words in the song, Do Tha Stanky Leg, as though it will corrupt the baby, or that white folks didn't boogie off the Hokey Pokey for generations. You know the lyrics:
You put your right hand out, You put your right hand in, And you shake it all about. You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around, That what it's all about!
For whites who see only the negative, I think they have an underlying jealousy and feel threatened. I seriously wonder if they wonder this: If (some of) our kids can do this at barely two and still in diapers, what can they do in the sports arena or in the bed at 20?
Historically, if white men who were racist had not been so insecure and worried about white women running off with black men, they would not have passed laws to prevent this, nor did unspeakable acts of cruelty to them post-slavery right up to the 1950s. The oldest black men in my family never shook the fear of even looking a white woman clerk or waitress in the eye, well into the 1970s. As teens and young men, this simple action could result in a beating or death.
And let's not forget about Jesse Owens winning the 1936 Olympics. You may know that Hitler had some strong feelings about this. However, Jesse Owens recounted that "Hitler didn't snub me - it was FDR who snubbed me. The president didn't even send me a telegram." Jesse Owens was never invited to the White House nor bestowed any honors by Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) or Harry S. Truman during their terms. (wikipedia)
Okay black folks, enough of them and their baggage. How about us?
For blacks who only see negativity in the video, I think they have absorbed the unconscious bigotry of whites against our own kind.
We have grown up watching mainly them on tv, in the movies, on magazine covers, billboard ads, commercials, even on the boxes of the food we buy and the products from the drug store, all of our lives.
We have learned to see the world through their eyes, and this includes the distorted way so many of them see us.
This is both good and bad - it's sort of like being bilingual where you can speak two languages. To some degree, this is called assimilation. Seeing the world from two cultures is part of this, and having this ability is necessary for optimum black survival.
For example, many of us talk a little differently when with each other, and are more reluctant in sharing our opinions or our unique brand of black humor out of fear of being misunderstood, thought ignorant or even hated.
On the other hand, over-assimilation can breed various degrees of self-hate and contempt for our own people who display behaviors that are common in our culture but not appreciated by the mainstream because it's not part of theirs.
Under-assimilation is a liability too. These are the folks most likely labeled ghetto, which is another word for low class, ignorant, and stupid. Unless they're successful in fields like music or have some unique talent, they have a tough time getting good jobs. They don't know how to dress for an interview, job, or play the Office Game if they get one. Some - not all - see rejection and contempt in every white face, and may not be particularly comfortable around blacks who know how to "talk white".
I hope this is food for thought: You know it's bad when a family having fun with their baby, doing something as simple as listening to music and dancing, is seen as threatening and/or undesirable.
If you did not see anything negative in this video negative except a concern that this well-balanced baby could possibly fall off the table and the teenager present wouldn't catch her on time, you flunked.
This doesn't mean you're a bad person, but some introspection might be in order.
Addendum, 6 AM, 11-12-2009
You might want to start with comparing this video below and the YouTube comments to the one above.
Hat Tip to Nubian Soul