Saturday, January 19, 2008
PROUD TO BE AN ANGRY BLACK MAN! FINALLY.
Last night I went out with a good female friend for dinner, drinks, and our latest round of Main street news editorializing, about our two degree of separation existences. As I was waiting for her at a very popular restaurant, I decided to add our names to the “to be” seated list, on what I was told by the hostess with a straight face would be a 15 min wait. 15 minutes?! On the Friday of a holiday weekend, in a very popular, packed restaurant, with about 50 people waiting ahead of me, right. I decided to wait outside with some of the other 15 min folk and enjoy the unseasonably warm New York January weather. BTW, if I get one more ATL person crying to me about the one snowflake they saw I’m driving down there and beating them with my belt. I think that last sentence perfectly illustrates the overall point of this post. As I stood outside, I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation of the four women who were standing directly in front of me. I’ll give you there ethnicities because I believe it relates to this story – I believe two were either from Spain or Columbia and the other two possibly Dominican. The conversation had shifted from its original topic of men and relationships to politics. As it seems one of the Dominican ladies was being pressed to divulge whom she would be voting for in the democratic primary election – Clinton or Obama.
The Dominican woman shook her head and repeatedly said, “I don’t know. I’m still undecided”
The ladies prodded her for an answer. Finally she turns and said, “If it was just Obama I would vote for him, but there’s a woman running too”
At which point the fairer skin of the two Spaniard woman replied in a venom laced voice “What’s an Obama??!!!”
They all laughed as the other Dominican woman while still in mid laugh belted out “I think I want to vote for him too. He’s colored!” Yes, ladies and gentlemen Barack Obama is colored. I can’t make this shit up.
I didn’t realize it, but as the woman defecated, the word colored out of her mouth, I had unconsciously taken a couple of steps towards the women. Right when I started to raise my hand, as I simultaneously opened my mouth to say something; the hostess walked out, and screamed a name. Which awoke me from my angry black man autopilot and made me walk around the corner before it took over me again. I tend to pace when I get angry, it does nothing to calm, but it’s what I do. My brain was going a 100 miles a minute, replaying the words in my head repeatedly. I tried to distract myself by working on getting a friend’s birthday plans taken care of after he got royally screwed out of his regularly scheduled programming. I just couldn’t bring myself to focus on anything else. I finally just leaned up against the wall and did some deep breathing exercises I had learned, yet never seemed to use in those moments they were made for.
My friend finally arrived and we went inside to wait for our table, as I told her about the discovery from the nice ladies outside that Barack Obama was colored. She questioned how it was that I always seemed to be the one to witness such acts of ignorance and stupidity. I still have no answer to her query. This was in no way the end of the stupidity and irritations that would be our night.
I’m not going into a long story, but the short of it was I made a reservation, once I got there added my name to “the list”, and still got skipped by the hostess numerous times - each with an apology and promise that I and my friend would be the next couple sat, each time to be skipped again. After the third time, I almost couldn’t take it anymore (honestly after the second, but I’ve been trying to keep my temper in check after a not so good experience with my doctor and an EKG machine that told me I was having a heart attack at my last annual). Therefore, ever since then I have been trying to not go off as much on inconsequential things and I hated being seen as "the angry black man" both on and offline. I was trying to keep my composure- THEN SHE SKIPPED ME FOR THE FOURTH TIME! FUCK IT! I’M DONE!
I walked into the dining area right behind the hostess as she sat the two women at our fourth table. As she turned with me standing in front of her, it dawned on her what she had done to the big visibly angry black man standing in front of her. She attempted to appease me with an apology and an offer of free juice. Yes, free juice! She walked away before she could see me laugh in her face. I knew juice wouldn’t have been enough of an incentive to stop me from flipping, but I thought - let me wait to be seated, then deal with the compensation for our pain, hunger, and suffering. This is where the long story gets short – all she was willing to give us was some juice. I tell her that’s not going to suffice. She brings the juice out anyway and regurgitates that BS about all she’s willing to do. I tell her it’s not enough and ask for the manager for the second time. She takes the juice back! Manager finally comes and attempts to defend hostess's said behavior, and I finally lose it. This manager calls me a liar for the third time for saying I had been skipped for the fourth time, in contradiction to the one time the hostess had told him it had been.
My friend sat there quietly as I went off and when I saw it getting to that point of no return, I realized I was with a good friend who didn’t deserve to see this man cry amongst other things in this restaurant. I got up, he jumped like a scared child about to be beat by his father, and we proceeded to leave. Which surprisingly brought on a bit of cheering and looks of admiration from the two people flanking us on either side of our table, and the others relegated to the 15 min waiting section we were once members of just a few mins earlier.
As we walked out my friend turned to me and said something I was very surprised to hear “You’re a nicer person than I am. I would have flipped a lot sooner than that!” This for me was a big surprise, because I’ve always been told I’m so angry by women who have witnessed me go off for service issues. I seem to have always been ranting about something or another, as they perceived it. One friend proclaimed to me just a few weeks ago when he saw the veins in my head about to explode after he informed me in the middle of a dance with a very beautiful woman that Senator Hillary RodHAM Clinton had won the New Hampshire primary after her tear-caspade
“WHY ARE YOU SO ANGRY? YOU DO KNOW YOU’RE NOT RUNNING, RIGHT?! YOU’RE AN ANGRY ASS BLACK MAN!”
Angry Black man - I had become a bit use to the moniker, never happy with it, but heard it enough to be use to it. The reason for all this rambling above was because I had been thinking about how I hated being perceived as the angry black man and what that meant to be seen as angry when you felt you were just impassioned. I have friends who are indifferent and sure when things are going to hell I’m a bit envious of how monotone they are with their emotions, as I narrowly avoid an aneurism caused by my outrage. Here’s the flip of it and the reason I like being an “angry black man” – because I feel for the bad and unjust and I truly enjoy the good when I find it. When things go right with those same indifferent friends, you can’t tell if there’s any joy to be found in them. Those moments rates to them the same way the bad ones do, but for me I bask in the bright light of pleasure and success. I live it and appreciate every moment of it as it happens to me.
I’m never just angry. I have a purpose and a target. When I’m driven to scream or write whether it be - one of my blog post, a comment/rant on a topic board, blog, e-mail discussion, forwarded news report, anything. It’s usually because I was so overwhelmed with the passion of my feelings that I couldn’t stop myself from putting it all the way out there for all to see. You might not agree with all the things I say, but I think you will be hard-pressed to find someone who doubts my belief in the things I say and believe. Give me passion or give me death.
OK, believe it or not that was supposed to be a one-paragraph intro to a great post I came across on the Field Negro’s blog today discussing the very same topic I had been racking my brain with since last night. I guess I needed to get out last night’s events more than I thought. Below is an excerpt of the opening to the Field Negro’s post entitled "The last angry black man" and a link to the full piece in its entirety.
“A friend of mine was introducing me to someone today, and for some reason he felt the need to tell her that I blog.”He has a blog called field Negro. I think he is the last angry black man left in America." Ha ha ha ha, laughs all around.”
“Of course dude was right. At times it seems that there are no angry black men left in A-merry-ca. I think the angry black man has been ashamed into accepting his fate, and his place in the A-merry-can scheme of things. But there is nothing to be ashamed of. Not when your anger is driven by disappointment and not resentment. You see it's like this: most people think that the angry black man, like yours truly, is angry because he is somehow feeling left out and is disappointed with his station in life. While this might be true with some angry black men, it isn't the case here. (Although to be honest, I couldn't really blame any black man for being angry and pissed off for the state of his condition. The shit that some of us -and yes I say us because whatever that black man goes through effects me as well-go through, I wouldn't wish on my worst white enemy). I am quite happy with pretty much all aspects of my life, both socially and professionally, but I am still angry.” Continue reading here
~HAPPY TO BE ANGRY~
P.S. Yes, I am aware of the irony of last night’s events and the content of this post on the same weekend as the celebration Martin Luther King Day and all he stood for - The man who wanted us to turn the other cheek. Guess I’m more of a Malcolm guy.
P.P.S. After we left the restaurant, our night actually turned into a great one. You’d be amazed what a great meal, a good witty friend, who can make you laugh so hard you spit out all the contents of your mouth, and almost die from a sincere inability to breathe from laughing, and a huge pitcher of sangria can do to sooth your troubles away.