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January 08, 2006

How To Be A Black Snob

The first thing you have to do is dismiss Erika Badu. It helps if you don't know how to spell her name, as I don't. Then all you have to do is talk about how idiotic her song about 'Darnell' or whomever it was was back in the day. Then you compare her to somebody equally skillful, say Stephanie Mills and say that Stephanie would never be so crude. There you have it. Substitute something classy for something trashy.

The proper expression to do while expressing this dismay at the confusion of the person who suggested that whomever black is worth respecting is to peer over your reading glasses. Your expression should say 'no you didn't" without verbally expressing it. You then immediately offer something nice. The model in this matter should be the late Gloria Foster when she meets Neo for the first time as the Oracle in the Matrix. "Not too bright though.." Offer the dunce a cookie and let them come back another time.

Since I've got years of doing this, it's kind of second-nature. The point is to be superior and gracious at once, to make erudition attractive one must be attractive and one must make one's students enthused to become more thoughtfully erudite themselves. But you must also realize as BeeJiggity has, that there are some poor souls who are beyond reclaim. Don't lose sleep over this. It's the way of the world, there have always been and will always be people who are best suited to be bad examples for the children. In fact, that is their role, like the big bad wolf. But insure that they get their verbal thrashing as a matter of course.. don't get to exercised about it. As I said, I've done this and it can be interpreted as sangfroid. Not a good thing. That's why you offer the cookie.

However, if you feel that there are certain matters that must be attended to with the accompanying swift kick in the pants without delay, you must apologize ahead of time. A nice way to do this is to bring forth the image of someone a bit more crude though certainly no less right-minded than yourself, an Uncle Max, perhaps. It's a pity Uncle Max isn't here, you might say, because he'd - excuse my French (and then in Uncle Max's voice) "knock your ass into the middle of next week". And then with appropriate humility, express your concern that you stay as far away from such nonsense lest you become a bit more like Uncle Max than you care to be.

After some time of working such curmudgeonly ways, you will come to a certain peace with yourself, and your friends and associates will know what to expect from you without you having to be incessantly outspoken, like us bloggers. Which brings me to the point of this discussion: Booty Books.

As I alluded, BeeJiggity takes issue with the clustering of all things African American into a book ghetto at the B&N. I hear you B. I hear you. But you know what? I don't believe there are any more black books to be read. I mean after about the 40th one you get into overkill. So while I'm down with the spirit of the complaint, I have to say that we don't want to sound too much like Uncle Max on this one. Propriety dictates we offer a cookie, in the form of a be all, end all compendium of erudite reading material.

So I humbly offer the following reading lists. But I know they are missing stuff. So we ought to talk about good black fiction. What is it and why?

Posted by mbowen at January 8, 2006 03:48 PM

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This seems to be quite a topic in "the community." Debra Dickerson guest blogged on it at Political Animal last Friday. I addressed it on my book blog and things got heated on a couple of my yahoo group discussion lists.

Posted by: Qusan at January 9, 2006 08:02 AM

What are you talking about, man?

I have a rule: if I can't figure out what a writer is talking about by the second paragraph, I stop reading.

This is meant as constructive criticism.


Posted by: ricland at January 9, 2006 09:06 AM

A nice serving, Mike, but it seems cookies don't sit well with whine.

Posted by: memer [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 9, 2006 09:39 AM

A nice serving, Mike, but it seems cookies don't sit well with whine.

Posted by: memer [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 9, 2006 09:40 AM

Har har, memer.

Ricland, I'm just talking about the ethics of complaining about blackfolks. I'm about to talk about that a little bit more in a new post today, appropos the Booty Books and a question over whether LaShawn Barber hates black people.

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 9, 2006 09:43 AM

just in case that went over the wrong way, i was aiming @ ricland.

Posted by: memer [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 11, 2006 06:56 AM

well, I must say--the "black snob" thing--u nailed it

Posted by: sandra at January 13, 2006 08:02 AM

"What is good Black fiction?"

Part of the answer for me, at my current age, is to what extent am I willing to submerge myself in an author's world for the X days that I am reading her novel. If I am unwilling to stay there after a few dozen pages or so, then I do not continue reading.

That has meant that some fiction (by/about Blacks or otherwise) that has been deemed to be "good" or "excellent" by others does not make the cut for me. It also means that some books that are supposed to be "bad" I end up reading hungrily to the end--even when I would never admit it to too many folks.

So I say, let the market and history decide. Let as many Black authors write crap books as White authors have over the centuries. I know the dangers of this (e.g., White-dominated publishing world will not take us seriously, blah blah) but I prefer it to all the hand-wringing about "quality."

BTW, did I miss your post about whether or not "LaShawn Barber hates black people"?

Posted by: Yvette at January 13, 2006 10:15 AM

Regarding LaShawn, I didn't go there. But I think she might be a bit put off by my latest post on Fundamentalists.

Somebody reminded me of Octavia Butler. So I'm going to go out and get some more of her stuff.

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 13, 2006 11:13 AM