America Hates Smart Black Men, Which Is Why Smart Black Men Must Be Even Smarter
Let’s face it: America hates smart black men. Now, when I mean smart, I do not mean just book smart or credentialed-smart, but not fearing to be intellectually-confident smart. That produces a dynamic where even a good set of people who call you a friend, and are black, are really quick to put you down the moment you talk about anything you’ve built or what you think. So, the problem I’m pointing to is not born of white racism exclusively, but also black self-hatred. It’s a combined black-on-black crime as well as racism from those who are not black. And just when I think it’s going away, something comes up to remind me its still there.
The statistics to back my claims are all over. For example, in May, 2019, Pew Research reported that:
A majority of black adults say they have been discriminated against because of their race, but this varies by education. Roughly eight-in-ten blacks with at least some college experience (81 percent) say they’ve experienced racial discrimination, at least from time to time, including 17 percent who say this happens regularly. Among blacks with a high school education or less, these shares are lower – 69 percent and 9 percent, respectively.
When asked about specific situations they may have experienced because of their race, blacks who have attended college are more likely than those without college experience to say they have faced a number of these incidents: people acting as if they were suspicious of them (71 percent vs. 59 percent), people acting as if they were not smart (67 percent vs. 52 percent) or being subjected to slurs or jokes (58 percent vs. 45 percent). Half of blacks with at least some college experience also say they have feared for their personal safety because of their race. That share drops to about a third (34 percent) among those with less education.
College-educated blacks are also more inclined to believe their race has negatively impacted their ability to succeed: 57% of blacks with at least some college experience believe being black has hurt their ability to get ahead, compared with 47% of those with a high school education or less.
The Pew Research Report goes on to report that the reason for this problem is that college-educated black folks are more likely to be in majority white groups. But what it does not report, is the degree to which even other black folks express a constant message that athletic black men, in particular, are prized over the black man that simply knows how to build a computer. The former’s company is sought after, but the later’s company is reserved for emergencies where a computer breaks down. And at that, they may not want to pay for the repair job, whereas if the man were white, they’d cough-up the money.
If blacks in America want to collectively move past racism, then valuing intellectually-talented black men is a dynamic that must be pushed. I say men, because in society today, the message is that black women should be valued, and while this is a good thing, we should have never reached the point that black men and women are divided in this way. But here we are. And we have regressed.
We went from America’s first black president, and the hope of an entrepreneurial class of African Americans building businesses, to begging for a seat at the table of white political figures. I was always instructed to make my own seat and my own table. The trouble is, we as a group still think one has to be rich to do that. Not so. In the Internet age, coding can be a great equalizer.
Building your own company. Making your own Facebook platform. Programing your own Twitter social media network. All of those are constructs that should be done by someone black – male and female, and not or. “Black Twitter” should mean a Twitter-style platform made and ran by someone black, and not a series of Twitter accounts, some made by white folks in Russia, that call themselves black.
Friends, both black, white, Asian, Latino, and all, should expect greatness from black friends, and help them where they can, even if its just words of encouragement, and not sit back and hope they fail. Black men have an annoying tendency to do that to other black men.
I can’t tell you the number of times I have gotten the “Yeah, Zennie” response from a so-called friend who’s black, and especially who worked for The City of Oakland, when I tell that person about my objectives for my company, Zennie62Media. It got to the point that I just stopped talking with that Oakland-based “friend”. And it’s because they’re not a friend. I’ve never ever done that to anyone, and especially not someone black, male or female. So, I’m not going to put up with that being done to me. Enough.
With that, I’ve been punished for having white friends, and yes girlfriends, but not only but by voice, by action – being left out. That happened so much as I was growing up, that I just settled into the fact that I had to prize my friendship group, even if it was mostly white. Just being real, folks. I love being black because it causes people to present who they really are.
So, I say this to black men who are regarded as smart: be smarter. Don’t dumb-down yourself. Be creative. Be analytical. Be more of yourself, because that confidence of self will drive change in America. Plus, don’t fear to build stuff of value to yourself and to society. You must except that the world will be against you, and learn to like who you are – not run away from it.
And while you’re at it, do what I have done since I was 18: use a damn Mac!
The world is such that in sports broadcasting a black athlete is given a job on TV over a black man who went to college to learn broadcasting. That a smart black NFL Draft commentator is subordinated to his white counterpart, even when its obvious to anyone watching that white guy knows far less. At the NFL Draft, I went to NFL Network’s Charles Davis table for that reason:
I recall an episode in 1992 where I was in a class to work for the US Census. There was a teacher, black, who had a set of issues that came out in a weird way. A woman did not understand what he was saying, and so I whispered to her what the teacher said. Well, all of a sudden, that man blew up and said I was out of line. I apologized and he just got madder, told me to leave, and stormed out of the room.
I was puzzled. A group of us students were trying to figure out why he just blew up. I had not said much at all in the class. But then, a white guy said “Don’t take this the wrong way, but when you talk, you talk like you’re really smart. You need to dumb down.” Yep. He said that. I left the program and found better work, eventually landing my own news commentary column in a local newspaper, and representing the Mayor of Oakland by late 1995. The message to me was simple and clear: get the hell away from these people with those thoughts.
People like that will try and bring you down. They will also tell lies about you in the process of doing that, or trying to. Even here in Georgia, one person told others that I flew back to California every night! I told the person who passed that information to tell that other person to just leave me alone. I have found that the South, or at least Georgia, has a set of white folks who can’t accept you for who you are; they have to make things up about you. And that came in the process of just being friendly to make friends in a new place. (I also may have found one key to Georgia’s constant habit of being a late-commer in tech: not letting people be who they are.)
I have found the Pandemic provides a welcome isolation from that kind of person, and the ability to build better relationships. I am here in Georgia to help my Mom, so that makes it easy to jettison terrible people and situations. Fortunately, not every white person in Georgia is like that, but there are some who just can’t seem to work to be better and accept people for who they are. In that person’s case, they seemed annoyed that I have a YouTube Channel (Zennie62), and known. Seriously. Just weird stuff, Man.
So, in closing, don’t fear to be a smart black man. It will eventually get you to a place where there are people who will except you. Plus, if you insist on being just that, others who are like you will do so, too. Eventually the world will get better. But I’m writing this to tell the world, or at least America, to stop devaluing smart black men.
Eventually, we’ll figure out a way to solve this problem, too. I think one answer, to be self-critical, rests in the book “How To Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. In the book, he writes:
1. Become genuinely interested in other people. “You can make more friends in two months by being interested in them, than in two years by making them interested in you.”:52 The only way to make quality, lasting friendships is to learn to be genuinely interested in them and their interests.
2. Smile. Happiness does not depend on outside circumstances, but rather on inward attitudes. Smiles are free to give and have an amazing ability to make others feel wonderful. Smile in everything that you do.
3. Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language. “The average person is more interested in their own name than in all the other names in the world put together.”:73 People love their names so much that they will often donate large amounts of money just to have a building named after themselves. We can make people feel extremely valued and important by remembering their name.
4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. The easiest way to become a good conversationalist is to become a good listener. To be a good listener, we must actually care about what people have to say. Many times people don’t want an entertaining conversation partner; they just want someone who will listen to them.
5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest. The royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most. If we talk to people about what they are interested in, they will feel valued and value us in return.
6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely. The golden rule is to treat other people how we would like to be treated. We love to feel important and so does everyone else. People will talk to us for hours if we allow them to talk about themselves. If we can make people feel important in a sincere and appreciative way, then we will win all the friends we could ever dream of.
I can tell you, I’ve done this, still do it, and still I encounter terrible people. When I do, I pray to the Lord for that person to be better. Then, I move on. And I build shit. Like this blog, Oakland News Now.com, you’re reading. It’s my latest creation and the center of Zennie62Media, and the smartphone-based, reputation management-business-fueled, news and content platform I have constructed.
Never stop fearlessly being smart.