I came out, and the line had grown even longer. Since I was in a nice shopping area, I decided to walk around and find alternative dining accommodations. I spied what looked like a nice restaurant so I decided to give them a go. The hostess seated me, the waiter let me know the salad bar was included and all you can eat, and everything seemed fine. After I got my first round of grub from the salad bar, I noticed that people were coming over from the other side of the restaurant. I also noticed that I was seated all alone to the opposite side.
Out of curiosity, I wandered over and noticed two things. First, I was the only Black attracting this particular dining establishment at that time. Second, while I did not receive any ill treatment I had been segregated from the other patrons. I was not dressed in a Paul Stuart suit, but I did not look like a street thug either. I had on cargo shorts with a Clark Atlanta Alumni T-shirt and tennis shoes. My belongings were in my ever present backpack. Since I look far younger than my years, I could have easily been mistaken for a student at one of the colleges in the area.
While the food was excellent and my service was good, I was still quite disturbed that I had been he end of my meal, asking if everything had been O. K. I put down the book I was reading and told him that the food was great but the segregation was not. I calmly asked him why I had been seated away from the White patrons. He grew red faced and apologized profusely. I calmly informed him that he had not answered my question (he never The Simmering Anger 2 did). He offered my two free entrees the next time I came in. I explained that I was from Atlanta, I was only in town for the week and that I would not be returning to his establishment.
I did inform him that I would spread the word about the hospitality I ad received. It was pretty funny. That manager could not tap dance fast enough, and after he rang me up and brought me my credit card receipt to sign he said I really hope you accept my apology Mr.. Minor. I calmly informed him that my proper honorific was Doctor. If possible he turned even redder as I gathered my things and left his restaurant. If the above narrative was an isolated incident then there would be no reason to get angry. For a Black man it never ends.
A lifetime of ill treatment on the basis of his gender and skin tone can lead to serious anger, sentiment, and even downright rage (Grief and Cobs, 1968). This has been the plight of the Black man in America since 1619 and it is the ongoing plight of the Black man in America as we head into the second decade of the 21st century. It does not matter how a Black man is dressed, how educated he is and how he speaks and carries himself. In the United States of White America he is seen as a subhuman entity that is to be disrespected and feared. Black men have chosen to combat this subjugation in different ways.
Some, realizing that being Black Man in America meant al treatment, lower wages and generally being treated as a 4th class citizen, decided to abandon the Black race. In the days of American apartheid known as Jim Crow, some could hardly blame a Black man for doing what he had to do to carve out a better existence for himself. Noted Journalist Anatoly Broad came of age during the period of legalized segregation. Broad chose to leave not only the American South but his identity as a Black man behind in order to live his life (Gates, 1998). Passing for white did not end when the death knell sounded for Jim Crow, as Lawrence Otis
Graham documented in his work Our Kind The Simmering Anger of People (Graham, 1999). Graham told the story of one of his law school classmates who chose to pass in the sass. These two men had the advantage of education; however this did not ease their stress levels. Rather than being stressed by the ill treatment accorded Black men in this country, they had to live in constant fear of having their true racial background discovered. This, coupled with the fact of having to live a lie, had to cause a great deal of anger in both men and every other Black man who has chosen the passing route.
The novel The Human Stain, though a work of fiction, does much to explain the anger a passing Black man feels (Roth, 2001). Protagonist Coleman Silk, like Anatoly Broad, came of age during Jim Crow. Silk, while raised in a well to do Black family, chooses to pass for White. Silk turns his back on his race, his family and his religion in order to pass as a White man. In his seventh decade, Silk is the Dean of Faculty at a small New England college. Silk makes a remark that has him accused of being a racist and he is forced into retirement.
All Silk had to do was reveal his identity as a Black man. Considering that the story was been lost as a result of such a revelation. However, Silk chooses to keep his secret and lose his Job. Through flashback, Roth paints with broad strokes the picture of Coleman Silk, a Black man who decides that he will live a lie. This decision obviously tormented Silk for the remainder of his life, and went a long way into turning him into a surly, abrasive man. Silks anger simmers throughout the story, an anger that is never assuaged by passing.
Every educated Black man with a sense of identity will agree that it matters not how educated he is. Society sees him as the malevolent black male (Hutchinson, 1997). The erroneous idea that The Simmering Anger 4 all Black men are inherently evil and that all Black men are to be feared is false. This idea is perpetuated in part by both the media and the hip hop community. Thus many White, Yellow and Brown people who have had minimal contact with Black males tend to think that the media and music video caricatures are accurate, and treat Black males accordingly.
The educated Black man finds himself at an eternal crossroad with no options, and the result is ongoing, simmering rage. The educated Black man is forced to confront his “double consciousness” being that he is both an American and a Negro (Dubious, 1903). It is this double consciousness that further causes the stress and anger in the educated Black man. Sometime between the 1954 Brown vs.. Board of Education decision and the present day, the value of education in the Black community has diminished markedly. Black boys who do well in school find themselves victims of bullying at the hands of other Black boys.
As a result, a lot of academically capable Black male students “dumb themselves down” to void being victimized. Other Black boys who choose to do their academic best and find themselves ostracizes by Blacks and labeled as “White”. However, many Whites do not accept these Black boys as equals, creating an isolating situation for the Black boy who chooses to do well academically. This is the point where the anger begins to This simmering anger does not dissipate once the educated Black man set in. Enters his chosen profession.
Myriad studies have shown that the further a Black man goes educationally, the more likely it is that he will be placed in isolation. My win higher education took placed at historically black colleges and universities, and there were multiple instances where I was the only Black male in a particular class. For many Black men, this sort of isolation does not stop once they The Simmering Anger 5 enter the workplace. Additionally, the aforementioned negative view of Black men does not stop once they enter the workplace, regardless of how educated Black men may be.
Once again, the educated Black man is forced to face his double consciousness. He is forced to decide if he is a Black man or if he is a worker (read Team Player). If the Black man chooses to “remain Black”, he is often ostracizes by Whites in the workplace (Cosec, 1994). If the Black man chooses to “sell out”, he is often ostracizes by other Blacks in the workplace (Kennedy, 2008). Not only does the Black face his double consciousness, he also must face the double edged sword of workplace advancement (selling out) or remaining true to his race (workplace suicide).
This dilemma causes the Black man a tremendous amount of anger. This dilemma was highlighted in the fictional movie D. R. O. P. Squad. The D. R. O. P. Kidnapping Blacks who had chosen to sell out. The D. R. O. P. Squad would then “reprogram” the sellouts, returning them to Black society. The story’s protagonist, one Bradford Jameson, is an advertising executive. Jameson goes along with his company’s advertising campaigns directed towards the Black community, despite the fact that the advertising is overtly stereotypical and racially demeaning.
Bradford has chosen to alienate himself from his many of his coworkers and even his own family in an effort to assimilate into his White workplace. Froufrou’s sister has him kidnapped by the D. R. O. P. Squad, and during his reprogramming he speaks his pain by reciting line from Paul Lawrence Dunbar we wear the mask that grins and lies. Near the end of the story, after his reprogramming, Bradford is talking with his sister and his pain manifests itself in the form of tears. Jameson expresses the stress and anger that his decision to sell out has caused in him.
The Simmering Anger 6 On the other side of the coin, not selling out can cause a great deal of stress and anger as well. I know of a situation where a highly intelligent, extremely well educated young Black man was encouraged by “sellout” Blacks in power to be subservient to Whites and to hide his level of education. When he refused, one of the aforementioned sellouts was used by the ruling White majority to run him out of his place of employment. It took this young man quite some time to recover from this slight, and his anger and resentment remain.
For the educated Black man, his stress and anger over being treated as subhuman will never end. The only solution to this will be the day that race no long matters in this country. The introduction to Hake Madhouse’s Black Men: Obsolete, Single Dangerous sums up this anger and resentment well: The pain is in the eyes. Young Black men in their late twenties or early thirties living in urban America, lost and abandoned, aimlessly walking and hawking the streets with nothing behind their eyes but anger, confusion, disappointment and pain.
These men, running the streets, occupying corners, often are beaten beyond recognition, with scars both visible and internal. These men, Black men-sons of Africa, once strong and full of the hope that America lied about-are now knee-less, voice-broken, homeless, forgotten and terrorized into becoming beggars, thieves or ultra-dependents on a system that considers them less than human and reads them with less dignity and respect than dead dogs. I am among those men.