Sunday, June 04, 2006

He Talk Like An Idiot


Joseph Phillips, -Bill Cosby's T.V. son-in-law Martin- recently wrote a book titled "He Talk Like A White Boy." Unfortunately, I must take issue with some of the things he had to say. Now I have no problem with Mr. Phillips trying to make some money, this is America, and believe me, writing a book aimed at a conservative audience by bashing his own people, will no doubt make him some serious chedder. It works every time. Just ask conservative race pimps like Thomas Sowell, and Walter Williams.

I also have an issue with Mr. Phillips trying to ride on the coat tails of the Cos. He is writing about an issue that we as a people already know exists, and one that the Cos himself has spoken about on numerous occasions.

Nevertheless, I will try to analyze Mr. Phillip's book for you: In one of the book's opening anecdotes; Mr. Phillips makes a comment in an accelerated English class, and a black student says; "He talk like a white boy!" Phillips said he thought to himself, "What does that mean?" He then explains that instead of chastising the girl or dealing with the substance of the remark, the teacher merely corrected the girl's grammer. "No LaQueesha, Joseph speaks like a white boy" That, says Phillips, was the beginning of his life. Apparently, this incident with LaQueesha -who by the way I have serious doubts as to whether this was the girl's actual name. Too perfect, too sterotypical- so traumatized the young Joseph that it would shape his thinking and the very way he views the race problem and societies ills in America. It, in essence, turned him to conservatisim.- Or that's what he would want us to believe- Then, he goes right into the tired old black conservative victim line. He claims that he has received many angry e-mails from blacks labeling him a sellout etc. but he just keeps plugging along. Poor Joseph, he is so misunderstood, and to think, it started when he was a youngster just trying to speak properly.

As I wrote in another blog; black people will see right through this crap. Too many of us grew up understanding that speaking properly (NOT WHITE) and mastering the King's English was an important part of learning. And the thought of teasing someone because they spoke properly never even entered our minds. I still remember my sister and I being teased for our Jamaican accents by our peers when we first moved to this country. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, and we didn't take it that way. Kids have been teased for a lot worse; the way they dress, where they live, you name it. The truth is, kids react to things that are different and kids say dumb things. So those kids weren't discouraging my sister and I from learning, or putting any social pressure on us because we had funny accents. (Heck, according to some of my friends, I still have a funny accent) They were merely expressing the fact that we spoke different than the other kids around us. Which might have been the case with Mr. Phillips. The fact that LaQueesha said "a white boy" just shows that her frame of reference might have been limited. If Joseph had a Spanish accent, she might have said; he talk like a Spanish boy, so what? Anyway, for the sake of this argument, I am going to give Mr. Phillips the benefit of the doubt, and assume that LaQueesha meant it as a bad thing, even though Mr. Phillips just happened to be speaking properly.

The truth of the matter is; there is still a lot of ignorance in our communities, because sadly, poverty and ignorance often go hand in hand. Also, the negative influences our children face when it comes to learning is a problem, we all recognize that. But is this particular problem worthy of a two hundred plus page book? I don't think so. The only people that want this book are conservative whites. It offers a little salve for their souls, reinforcement from one of their ideological soulmates to let them know that they are on the right side of the debate. To them, here is this wonderful black man with a similar political philosophy, and just because he talks like them, he is being vilified by his people. It's the "Tyranny of Opinion" according to Mr. Phillips. Black cultural gate keepers watching how you speak so that you don't stray too far from the script. Has he ever thought that it's not so much how he talks but what he says that bothered LaQueesha? What if LaQueesha and Joseph were previously listening to some Earth Wind & Fire tapes, and Joseph said something like;" Hey don't you have some Nirvana we can listen to?" See, that's not talking like a white boy, that's thinking like a white boy, regardless of how he said it. That could have been LaQueesha's problem with Joseph all along. Joseph wants to be a white boy. If some white "red neck" in Kentucky were to say; dem der negroes be comin dawn her en causing all serts of problems fer us. How would we classify that? I mean, he is a white boy, is he talking like a white boy, or just like a white red neck? And if he attempted to speak properly, would other red necks now say; he talk like one of dem der Yankees? I don't know, it's just a thought. For instance, when little white kids in the burbs imitate their favorite rap stars and start fe shizzeling their parents, is that a good thing? Should the parents now say; Johhny, you talk like an inner city black boy, you stop it this minute! Or should they say, our Johnny sure talks like a black boy how cute, it's so nice to know that little Johhny is street smart. See how crazy this stuff can get? We can go in all different directions with this one. Which is why Mr. Phillip's book and the interest it is drawing is so perplexing to me.

The truth is, I don't have all the answers to the question of the added pressure peers but on each other when it comes to learning. But Joseph Phillips has taken a universal problem and made it just a black one, when we all know that it's a lot more complicated than that. It's a problem that touches peer pressure, societal expectations, and proper role models for our children. Yes we do have problems in the black community with this issue, because we too often dumb down expectations, and exalt in ignorance. But that is something we should be working on with our community groups, schools, and local politicians. Not writing books for our conservative brethren so that they can continue to pass judgment about us. Judgments, by the way, that they are all more than willing to accept as gospel.

Mr. Phillips I am going to suggest that you try to work on your acting, because you obviously have a lot of free time on your hands. I have seen your work, so acting might not pay you as much as this does. But I bet you will sleep better at nights.


8 comments:

mark said...

Yo feild I just posting on weed smoking in our comunity, I would appreciate if you would check it out and tell me what you think. I will comment on this post later. Peace. Mark

denise said...

Thankyou.

mark said...

Yo Field I just read this post, and although I have to admit I dont care for Mr. Phillips very much. I am at the point now where its not about what white conservatives say. Like Cosby said let the racist say what they will we have work to do within our own communities. I believe that black folks have a gigantic case of denial going on. Meaning we have problems right in front of our faces that are killing us and people are acting like they dont exist. For example teens and young adults now smoke weed right in front of children and everybody knows it but noone is doing anything to stop it, ten years ago I remember hearing brothers things such as I dont like rubbers I will not use rubbers, now we (blacks) have this aids epidemic going that no. Our aids cases far out number our percentage of the population. I have decided that I will no longer cut black people any slack when it comes to backwards, hypocritical or self destructive behavior that leads to us suffering. You are right all kids do mean things and tease other kids for various reasons. But if you or anyone else is trying to gloss over behavior such as.

1) Teasing people who are darker than you.
2) Telling certain kids that they are beautiful because straight hair or lighter colored eyes but not telling all other black kids they are beautiful
3)Spending 50, 60, 70 dollars on shoes or clothes in general when you and your family are living in a hood that is not healthy for kids.
5) Way too many people calling (Joning) each other names, over clothes and other frivolous items.
6) Grown ass men and women having unprotected sex with folk who they have no intention of marrying.
Thier are many more problems I could list but I think you more than get my point. Maybe his methods arent the most appropiate or productive ways of making change, to be honest with you it wouldnt suprise me if Mr. Phillips could care less about us. But this does not change any relevant points he made. I havent read the book although I will. But I am starting to get the impression that way too many black people want to deny or gloss over problems that are stiffling our development. Even if Mr. Phillips didnt make his point all that well, to deny that presently black folks do not have some extremely ignorant and dysfuntional issues was is tantamount to negligent manslaugter as far as Im concerned. When I listen to Cspan, Npr or the News in general it sounds to me that black people generally (but not always) sound a whole lot less articulate than everybody else. If you take sports listen at how the white players talk as in comparence to black folk. Or look at shows such as american idol the people who had problems with law where the black people, or the real world the people who had problems getting along with people more than anyone else where the black people. That is not scientific way of making assesment but fn you are smart enough to know where Im comming from. Even if Mr. Phillips is wrong for airing dirty laundry in the manner he does at this point Im starting to think its good because it gets people talking about issues that affect us nagatively. Fn please do not try to qaulify or gloss over this problems that are killing us inlcuding ( as you say) the dumbing down of black folks.
By the way I just posted an article last week called Mrs. Linda and she had a grandaughter name LaQueesha. With love and respect. Mark

field negro said...

Mark as I said in my post it is a problem, and Mr. Phillips makes some good poins about mentoring etc. in his book. But again, it just seems like piling on for the sake of selling books to those in the majority, by saying; see, I can talk about my own people to you guys and sell book doing it. It's tired and old now, and every black conservatve is doing it.

I guess it won't stop until white folks stop buying their books. And that could be a long time coming.

FN

mark said...

FN you are right piling on just to pile on is wrong, but worse it does no good. To tell you the truth I have absolutely know love for black or white repubs, or the christian right they are so hypocritical. But at the same time It seems like blacks on the other side try to pretend like these things are killing us arent happening or arent that bad. I dont think I could possibly explain to you how much this annoys me. Anyway your post has made me want to read the book. By the way Cobb reviewed the same book but as you can imagine his point of view was the opposite of yours. Mark

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