With the exception of Black man tears, the Real World Las Vegas finale, which aired Wednesday night, had all the makings of a typical MTV season peace out.
The roomies drank, partied and reflected. There was partial nudity, a shotgun wedding and revelations. They expressed that their realities conflicted with their expectations of each other after living together for three months.
But, even more interesting than the clichés that happy endings are made of, was the moment when Chicago native Leroy received a tear-rendering call. He was informed that his friend was gunned down by a police officer.
The moment was profound in the way that racial realities and confronting common fears tend to be.
While Americans of varying races routinely express displeasure with police officers and their prejudicial power-wielding, history brings transparency to the effects of pigment on policing.
Amadou Diallo. Sean Bell. Oscar Grant. The list goes on.
I do not know the intimate details of Leroy’s friend’s scenario. I was not a witness and am not personally connected to him or his associates; however, I identified with the potent moment where the tall, muscular, “urban,” Black man’s wet face spoke volumes about vulnerability.
I am not a Black man, and although I have experienced racially rooted situations with the po-po, my encounters are not the same as those of my homeboys or of the men in my family.
I am from the South and am all too familiar with stories of Bubbas who massacre first and question or comment later.
On a much smaller scale, I am also accustomed to the occasional awkwardness in racially diverse environments when a person of color, especially a Black person, displays sadness.
Add phallocentric perceptions of robotic manhood and a brotha using Kleenex for anything other than sneezes could seem oxymoronic.
Too often our pain is misconstrued as weakness and our weaknesses are exploited.
I do not believe that including Leroy’s bawling over the loss of his friend during the episode was any more exploitative than other moments on a season that also wrestled with homosexuality, haphazard prophylactic usage, aggression issues and non-traditional families.
His roomies’ initial uncertainty about how to respond to their usually jovial housemate’s sobs echoed the uncertainty many feel when dealing with Black men who openly express their emotions. (Ultimately Michael comforted him during his time of need.)
Leroy’s moment was not the largest segment in the episode, nor was it the focus, but it did provide a necessary talking point.
When the dougieing brotha more known for bedding women and giving BET worthy sound bites dealt with death, his roommates, and viewers alike were presented with a visual that emotionally oppressive socialization does not expose frequently.
If we continue the dialogue about the multiple dimensions of humans, Black men not withstanding, then Leroy’s tears were not in vain.