Dealing with Negro Nonsense and Barbershop Knowledge

I need to vent.

Be aware, I’ve recently been watching Spike Lee Joints: “School Daze,” “Bamboozled,” and just this weekend “When The Levees Broke” which still had me fighting back tears.

That being said, a few things I heard over the past week or so just made me angry and I just want to set the record straight and address the “Negro Nonsense” (thanks AverageBro) and to knock down the “barbershop knowledge” that’s so prevalent in our community.

1. Negro Nonsense #1 — Olympics and Derrion Albert

Obama and the OlympicsLast Friday, much to my happiness, Chicago lost their Olympic bid.  First let me clear up somethings 1) Chicago was “not out in the first round” as has been widely circulated.  This was the NCAA equivalent of the Final Four.  The final four cities of Rio De Janeiro, Chicago, Marid and Tokyo were the top four.  Chicago was the first city to go out in this round, but people were acting as though only four cities submitted their bid.  I mean USOC chose Chicago out of other contenders such as New York way back at least a year ago when they decided that Chicago had the best bid to submit to the IOC.  So, everyone running around saying “HA! They were out in the first round are wrong!”

Additionally, as pointed out by AverageBro, it’s the biggest crock of bull if anyone thinks that Chicago lost because of the Derrion Albert murder.  How dare anyone take this young man’s life and blow it up out of proportion and dare say that Chicago has more pertinent issues to deal with such as teen violence.


Anyone ever heard of favelas?

Derrion AlbertSeriously, if anyone from Chicago rolled through Cidade de Deus they’d have an awakening.  The favelas are way more crime ridden than the South Side of Chicago.  The IOC most certainly couldn’t have taken this particular incident of Derion Albert into consideration given the crime statistics of the non-tourist sections of Rio De Janeiro.  Moreover, Brazil actually has a much more “brown” population than the United States FYI; thankfully the IOC made the decision to go where they had never been before.

It’s also my opinion that given Chicago’s low bid out of the four had something to do with it.  They knew that cost overruns are probably common with this and knowing Chicago’s financial status and that the Olympic stadiums and what not were to be financed by mostly private donors, and that they wouldn’t really fly if costs went over.

2. Negro Nonsense #2 — Black guy defending Troy Dale West (Cracker Barrel beating). Well, I searched for a news story to try and relay this point home.  The fact that I didn’t see an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) when I did an online search makes me even more cautious about this topic and further proves my point about random “barbershop knowledge” that’s used to influence real ideas at stake.

For background info on the story here goes:

I was listening to Atlanta fave Derrick Boazman on 1380AM because he follows The Al Sharpton Show which moved from the FM station and now he’s on the AM dial (seriously wassup with that??!?!)  That being said, earlier that day I was hearing Al Sharpton field calls concerning gang violence in the inner cities of course pointing back to tragic murder of Derrion Albert.  I actually tweeted @TheRevAl and more or less said as long as we live in a society that thrives off of not just violence, but an actual crime industry thats protected by police department and corruption on both the micro and macro levels nothing will change.  Essentially what we need is a new world order.  Simple fact is that since no African American owns planes and cargo ships that travel between Afghanistan and Central and South America that can transport pure products of heroin, opium and cocaine–clearly the crack dealer on the street that can’t catch a break or even the “Nino Brown’s” of the inner cities are still very low on the totem pole compared to the ones bringing in the shipments on the cargo ships, airplanes and military transport planes and ships, yet and still their the ones paying the most for the crime.

So by the time I heard the Negro Nonsense on Derrick Boazman’s show, I was bit full by then.

They were discussing this fact that the white man, Troy West, who has assault charges leveled against him after he beat and punched a black female, Tawshanea Hill, an Army reservist, at Cracker Barrel, now has a prominent black attorney, Tony Axam, from Atlanta defending him–pro bono I believe. Whether this is true or not, apparently the issue of whether or not this black attorney really loved his black sisters came into question and of course many of the callers were referring to the attorney as a “house Negro.”

Wait.  Pump your brakes.

In defense of the “house Negroes,” last I checked a slave was a slave.  Just because of the perceived better status of being in a house rather than a hot sun was really a misperception. Seriously, the “house Negro” was at the beck and call of Mistuh and Missus.  The buck of the house, stereotypically speaking, had to worry about the “Potiphar’s wife” motif of the Missus and the mammy of the house always had to worry about being chased after by Mistuh–stereotypically speaking that is.  Not to mention, particularly in a big house on a plantation of a few dozen slaves, house work in the ante-bellum and even post-bellum period was back breaking work, from doing laundry to being a wet nurse to cooking for a whole house of people.  And often times women were expected to do “man’s work” at certain intervals such as chopping wood for a stove and come on now, doing laundry back then was NOT what was up.

So really–we’re equating that with some fucked up understanding of ontological blackness and what “really black” is?

I guess since Malcolm X so famously did it, it must be an okay definition for 2009.

It’s disheartening to listen to such rhetoric being spewed by grown adults.  Then this caller named “Quincy” called in and he was trying to give an opposing point of view more or less saying that it wasn’t fair to malign the brother as such a “house Negro” and that we must be fair when talking about matters of race.  I felt Boazman back up a little bit, but still, the tone toward “Quincy” was overall condescending and more or less indicative of how we deal with most social and religious issues in the black culture: we don’t entertain opposing views well.

Yes, I understand this because too often we hear the opposing view which is often times the prevailing dominant view of white patriarchal culture and our view is the reaction to that view, but we most certainly don’t handle opposing views from within our own community.  For instance, I’ve seen various blog posts from The FreshXpress about religion, particularly atheism.  You bring up atheism in a barbershop or around grandmama, and you’re damn excommunicated from the black community.  I remember that blog going on to say it would be better to come home married to a lesbian with four children than say “Grandma, I’m an atheist.”  Or the fact that now we try and put our kids on medication for ADD and ADHD and too many of us old timers are still saying “Let Jesus work it out.”

It’s time out for underanalyzation of ideas and topics that come to the forefront of our community.  We have to ask the difficult questions and be prepared for their answers.  Too often, at least on my school’s campus and I think it’s the case in our community, the problem lies with the generational and class gaps.  Too often opposing sides are just hollering at each other and no one is listening.  Forgive me if I offend my elders when I say the following, but the elders time is growing short, would it not make more sense to get on board with those who have to be around after the death of the elders?

3. Negro Nonsense #3 — Affirmative Action is for the “underqualified.”

Recently in class I heard one person comment that “affirmative action was for the underqualified” and I almost jumped out of my seat and strangled him.  That’s the exact line used by all self-professed conservatives.  Has that type of thought process begun to go through the black community unchecked?  Honestly, what I heard him say was that any one but white males were essentially underqualified.  This would include white women and contextually for me, what I heard him say that people of color female and male weren’t qualified for the jobs therefore a law had to be made that allowed them to get the jobs.


I just really needed to vent since you all see I’ve been missing for a few weeks with just random posts here and there.  But this whole idea of the black community operating off of half-truths and this misconceptions and anachronistic ideas is mind-boggling.  I sit in many of my classes and I hear some of the ideas passed around and I just wanna stand up and holler “ARE YOU GUYS LISTENING TO YOURSELVES TALK?!?!”  Many of us pose that the Popes of Blackness per the State of the Black Union engage in intellectual masturbation and they clearly have not been in a room with a bunch of black senior pastors or done group work with said group.  It’s a veritable hell.  They delegate all of the work and when they get the floor, they start preaching.

I just sit there and roll my eyes.

Just like the other day, I was in a group with all older people, where probably out of six other people, four of the six could have been my grandparents and the other two definitely could have been my parents.  In the midst of discussion, they never once asked for my opinion when I sat in the group and didn’t contribute.  Seriously?!?!  And these would be the same folk wondering why the 18-40 demographic isn’t feeling church anymore.

Derrion Albert 2After experiencing the murder of Derrion Albert, all of us, myself included offer some opinion and yet and still invariably sometime in the near future, somewhere in the “off the beaten path” inner cities none of us hear about like a Chester, Pennsylvania or a Camden or Trenton, New Jersey or Newark some young black male is shot and the selected community spokes persons perhaps with a public school superintendent get up and make some passionate plea about “Enough is enough” and say “We’ve got to stop” only to rinse and repeat sometime in the future.

As Cornel West portrays in Race Matters, stuff like that gives into the nihilism that many of us from the hip-hop and post-hip hop generation engage in on a day to day basis.  Certainly, Negro Nonsense and “barbershop knowledge” is not going to even chip away at the veneer that is post-modern nihilism.  I can’t write that I know what the answer is, or what the root problem is, but being dismissive of certain types of talk is not going to help the situation, I can guarantee that.

Just as a conclusion, recently I’ve been a bit more conscious about the future generations and those that come after me, so the next time you say a prayer, do so in the name of those who have sacrificed for us in the past and in the name of those who are to come.

Do you think blacks to often indulge in “Negro nonsense” and “barbershop/beautyshop knowledge” when it comes to the deeper issues in our country?  If so, what do you think we can do to move away from that–or do you think that’s okay?  What can be done to bridge the generational gaps in your opinion?

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL


5 thoughts on “Dealing with Negro Nonsense and Barbershop Knowledge

  1. The whole issue with Obama letting down Chicago and Chi-town came in last is pure foolishness. The simple fact of the matter is, Chicago probably came in 2nd. Just got eliminated first. Madrid wasn’t going to win 2016, because London (European countries) is just going to have it in 2012. Therefore, Tokyo probably wasn’t going to win because Beijing (Asian countries) just had it in 2008. I think if anything, it will make Chicago invest even more into a 2020 olympics, and I think our regime can make it happen.

    This is a timeless post sir, good shit.



    Happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday….

    Stevie Wonder version.

    Keep it uppity, Uppity!

  3. Negro Nonsense and Barbershop Knowledge – what a title. You need to holla at some of those people that call into the Rev Al’s show. Cat’s running around using Big Words i.e. Jailhouse Scholars… Black folks are not a monolithic race and until we address our problems in a realistic manner we are just talking loud and saying nothing.

  4. feel your pain on the religion angle. you’d think we’d be more accepting of the atheists and agnostics amongst us considering how much Judeo-Christian religion (Islam included) has been used to oppress us.

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