It’s a shame self-loathing Negroes like The Guardian’s Orville Lloyd Douglas didn’t take the “Big Poppa” lyric “I wish people suffering from I hate being Black disorder took the Biggie line, “Heart throb never, Black and ugly as ever. However, I stay Coogi down to the socks.” more to heart.
I’m half-kidding, but after reading Douglas’ “Why I hate being a black man” I have to make some kind of joke from stopping myself from crying silent tears over such a grand display of defeatism. In Douglas’ essay, he laments over the fact that “Every time I sit on a crowded street car, bus, or subway train in Toronto, I know I will have an empty seat next to me.” His sister explains that his towering presence and Black skin are dually intimidating to Canadians. As Douglas himself argues, “Although Canadian society presents the façade of multiculturalism the truth is Canada has a serious problem with the issue of race.”
Yeah, but so does Orville Lloyd Douglas.
To be fair, Douglas is correct in his assertion that when it comes to Black self-hatred, it “is usually depicted from a female point of view.” In that regard, I commend him for daring to do what many would deem emasculating. Damn him all the same, though, and damn anyone like him who may recognize a problem but use his or her platform to further perpetuate it.
I wrote a response to a previous Douglas essay in which he condemned 12 Years A Slave and all slave-themed movies based on the notion that such works “are created for a White, liberal film audience to engender White guilt and make them feel bad about themselves.” He argued “these films are unlikely to teach you anything you don’t already know” and then said, “Frankly, why can’t Black people get over slavery? Or, at least, why doesn’t anyone want to see more contemporary portrayals of Black lives?”
At the time, he looked like a fool with the intellectual curiosity of a gnat, too stupid to understand the nuance in Steve McQueen’s depiction of slavery and most of the movies that preceded it and too lazy to use the magic machine known as Google to realize that while 12 Years A Slave may be highly buzzed, there are actually a lot of Black movies out this year that do just that. As for his inability to grasp that slavery is a part of history, and thus, always a relevant story worth telling from different angles, let us all sing Aaron Hall’s “DUMB, DUMB DIDDY” really, really loud.
We can now add hypocrite to the list as it’s fine for him to pen maudlin works in an effort to illicit white guilt (on top of bashing Black movies outlining racism for white amusement), but not okay for anyone else to make white people sad.
You would think that after bashing a film that depicts a moment in time that plays a significant role in Douglas’ own self-hatred, Douglas would see the light and make a connection. Instead, we just get, “There is nothing special or wonderful about being a black male – it is a life of misery and shame.”
There may be burdens to being Black, but that is not of our invention. That is systematic of white supremacy. Still, It doesn’t negate the beauty of being Black nor does it strip its joy.
Such a revelation requires a shift in perspective, and sadly, Douglas is still basing his self-worth by white standards. That’s why it’s so easy to why he’d willingly write for all to see, “I can honestly say I hate being a black male.”
Of course you do, Orville, if you’re operating from this place: “In popular culture black men are recognized in three areas: sports, crime, and entertainment. I hate rap music, I hate most sports, and I like listening to rock music such as PJ Harvey, Morrissey, and Tracy Chapman. I have nothing in common with the archetypes about the black male.”
If Douglas knew anything about popular culture, he’d know this paradigm is shifting and has been for quite some time. Or better yet, if he didn’t find white validation so desirable, he’d be a lot less miserable.
Douglas asks: “Honestly, who would want to be black? Who would want people to be terrified of you and not want to sit next to you on public transportation?”
Black people who love themselves. Black people who don’t allow other people’s ignorance to determine their self-worth. Black people who can exist happily without a white person’s co-sign.
Douglas’ is a sad character, but I won’t waste pity on him because he uses his writing career as a tool to make other Black people feel just as pathetic as him. He needs therapy, not a column.