It was all my idea. OK, not really all mine. My editor and I had been batting around the idea of me writing a column for well over a year. You know, The World According to Me kinda thing. (If you're already turned off by my perceived arrogance, get your own column.)
You don't know me at all, but pick up the paper in the coming weeks and you'll come to. You will grasp my printed persona. I'm opinionated and boisterous, bordering on obnoxious.
An opinion is a good thing to have if expected to write a weekly column. The other stuff is icing.
I must add here that I'm not new at this. At the daily where I toiled for five years, I wrote an award-winning column that was picked up by other papers. And while most of the subject matter dealt with race, some did not. Again, it was The World According to Me. But there was so much that had to be implied because that paper is published in Butler County, land of the myopic and home of the segregated.
Here at CityBeat, however, I decided to take things up a notch. Being a basketball fan, I call it giving readers the head fake. Reading our city's two dailies, you'd never know how anybody really feels about alleged police misconduct, Asian groceries and nail shops thriving only in black neighborhoods, suspected hotel price gouging during the Coors Light Festival and on and on.
That's where I come in.
Call a spade a spade — pun intended — and hence the title "Your Negro Tour Guide." I won't go into long explanations about the title (I'll let you do your own weekly interpretations) except to say, again, it came through the help of co-workers.
White people can be so helpful without even realizing it.
One was asking me some sort of "racial" question. It was one of those questions where, although she didn't come out and say it, the underlying tone was, "Hey, you'll know the answer to this because you're black."
I recall it was something she could have figured out for herself except that she's lived an admittedly sheltered life. I waited the perfect beat, looked at her and said, "I am not your Negro tour guide."
Bling. It got a big laugh. Another colleague said, "That should be the title of your column."
Now, this: We all know that race is the last frontier in America. It gets tread upon ever so lightly, if at all. We know what happens because of it and how we feel about it, but few of us ever really want to get our hands dirty dealing with the minutiae that comprise it.
That doesn't mean that whitey is evil and all blacks are put upon and disenfranchised. What it means is that we can be reactionary because of history. See, history is probably more relevant to us than any other race. Why do you think we've got our own month? But in playing the race card, blacks are just as crunchy as whites.
There's enough guilt and blame and shame to go around.
So this gig will speak. This space will speak peace.
You might not agree — hell, you might never agree — but at least the bedrock of my opinion will be out there in the universe where it should have been in the first place. And where it will always belong.