Read, White and Black

Let's get one thing straight right off. I am a Negress -- the title bestowed by an angry white reader -- with a column and, therefore, I will always have the last word. That said, let's review: Whi

Let's get one thing straight right off. I am a Negress — the title bestowed by an angry white reader — with a column and, therefore, I will always have the last word.

That said, let's review: White people are mad, and they're not going to take it anymore!

Several white readers are incensed that I am "allowed" to say what I want the way I want. They've responded to this column by calling me names — ignorant, self-important, racist, arrogant and myopic, to name a few.

This is a family newspaper. Wait. No it isn't. One guy called me a dumbass, too.

Then they tested me, which is a mistake because you should never test someone in an area where they live and you study.

In response to my comment about Eric Clapton not embodying the Blues, one reader wrote, "You probably can't name five original Blues guitarists off the top of your head."

By "original" I took him to mean "black." Then, I wondered why he felt he should justify his comfort with blacks and black culture by telling me that his ex-girlfriend is half-black, that he "graduated from a 40 percent black school" and that he played sports in high school which "allowed me to acquire many black friends."

Immediately, in my mind I rolled off the names of Robert Johnson, John Lee Hooker, Blind Lemon Jefferson, B.B. King, Son House, Jimmy Reed, Lightnin' Slim and Hound Dog Taylor. Is that five? And, by the way, how do you "acquire" friends — black, white or otherwise?

Wow! And to think, it's been just five weeks since this column debuted. But be forewarned: Don't shoot your wad too early.

White readers who've dropped me a line either are calling me names or are declaring their staunch support of "free speech" and my "right" to exercise it. Often that's followed by the obligatory "however," as in "However, I think that your viewpoints are very ignorant" (so said the same young respondent with the half-black ex-girlfriend who played sports in a 40 percent black high school and who acquired many black friends).

One person even called me hateful and said I'm probably not as smart as I think I am. I'll agree with that. I'm probably smarter.

Much of this reader response comes on the heels of last week's column, "Blacks Like Y'All," a sweet little ditty about white appropriation of black culture.

It seems that none of my other columns so far — dealing with blacks and whites misbehaving during the stadium festival or the concept of living while black negating the trauma of driving while black — sparked the ire of whites quite like last week's did.

It's kind of like spitting out the window of a car travelling 70 mph. It comes back on you.

But it's all good. I can take it. I've been in this skin 35 years, and it's pretty thick now.

All this hoo-ha is because white folks aren't really bothered by how others feel about who and what they are. See, they can handle outrage so long as it's removed.

Black folks burning and looting their own neighborhoods, incensed by some perceived injustice leveled by whites? No problemo. White folks watch that on the news from the safety and security of their living rooms. One click of the remote and it's gone.

But let a black woman sarcastically and publicly give voice to some long-held everyday realities seldom spoken? E-mails churn and phone lines blink.

Above my head I hear a white hallelujah chorus singing, "How dare she? How dare she? How dare she?"

It should be noted that I also took blacks to task for not supporting black culture in that very same column, and those black readers who responded were quite receptive to my remarks.

Does this make us superior? Hardly. We're all — black, white, Asian, Hispanic and everyone in between — raggedy and crunchy. It's just that blacks are accustomed to criticism.

It doesn't mean we're necessarily willing to change anything. It simply means we know the real deal Holyfield. Besides, we don't get all up in arms if the shoe doesn't fit.

So, to my white brothas and sistas who blew gaskets last time out, chill. I'm just a Negress. It's just a column.

I'll be here next week, having the last word. And the last laugh.

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