I was listening to Larry Wilmore’s podcast “Black on the Air” for the first time and it was a recent one interviewing Ta-Nehesi Coates, and it was cool to hear him FINALLY being interviewed about these things by a black interviewer. While it was still an interview, the banter between two intelligent black men as though it were over a beer in a bar in Harlem or somewhere in Inglewood was not to be missed. Since it was about his book, Coates was reflecting that never once throughout Obama’s presidency did we really have an “Aint this some n-word shit” moment. While it was a moment of comedy on the show, it did reflect the respectability politics of black middle-classism. The Obamas, while not the full picture of black life in America, certainly have been the biggest and most lauded of black life when it comes to representation.
As I sat on the shuttle bus going back to my long-term parking at Thurgood Marshall-Baltimore/Washington Airport, I was the first person on the bus. The bus driver, in a refined Baltimore accent more akin to Coates himself rather than Mo’Nique, started talking to me and wishing that I had a good day. I obliged the back and forth. That was all she needed. She got loud and started swearing. I was starting to laugh because she was clearly happy for the conversation partner. She started telling me to be safe on the road because there had been an accident by a driver–“a lil dumb shit” in her words–driving a rental. She waxed on about rental car prices and how the insurance they give you is a scam. I learned about her 17 year old son she’s teaching to drive and how “the hell she aint” gon buy him a car. By this point, I was tickled because she was just having a good ol’ time talking to me.
Then two white folks got on the bus. And homegirl didn’t stop talking. These two white interlopers had a look on their face like “what did we walk into.”
Two more white people got on the bus, and she looped them into the conversation. And went right back talking to me. The white folks, now four of them, we sooooo gloriously lost as to what was happening. And I had a choice: Do I respond or stay in the awkward silence? I responded.
I responded not for the sake of putting the white people at ease, but more to put myself at ease. It was one of those “aint this some n-word shit” moments because in all of her Baltimorease, this bus driver careth not about respectability politics on her bus. No doubt she does that with most passengers, it probably helps her throughout the day, but it was certainly a moment in which the fullness of blackness was on display.
And in the Error of Trump (sound it out and then you’ll really laugh), I’m no longer caring. We only got once chance. I love black people. I love black culture. I love the moments of drama that black folk can create spontaneously irrespective of location and protocol. It’s how we find joy in our day, it’s the practice of “finding a way or making one.”
So I see something like this, and can’t even be mad. In normal times, I’d be like what in the whole world is this. Why Lord? But now, I mean, why not. Might as well.
#BlackFolksBlackinItUp #InterstateStuntin #MoneyOnTheHighWay #ConstructionZoneShawty
Photo credit to Twitter @2CUPYUNGIN