Welcome to Black Like Me, a no holds barred look at life from a black perspective. Rest assured though, this a post-racial blog. How is that possible? It’s easy. Its 2012, and you are all black now.
Being black used to be something that was impossible to explain. But circumstances have changed. My generation was terrified of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. The average person didn’t understand how we felt until a black man with a Muslim name became President. Suddenly some people didn’t trust their government anymore. The President made them nervous.
We got profiled by the police. It was part of life. If you were lucky enough to have a dad in your life, at various points as you grew up he talked to you about how to deal with law enforcement. It was something that no one understood outside of our community. Until Occupy Wall Street. Across the country there was incontrovertible evidence of police attacking rather unintimidating looking kids, and then lying about it. The older generation that felt like Trayvon Martin deserved to get profiled, stalked and killed because he was tall and wore a hoodie in the rain? Turns out that being scanned and searched at the airport by a languid TSA agent made them dehumanized.
Black men my age generally have an unemployment rate double the national average. Right now, we are at Great Depression levels. But across the board, this generation of workers is finding out how lousy things are when it’s an employer’s market. There are a lot of qualified, wonderful workers being rejected for the flimsiest of reasons. It soul-crushing. But we already knew that.
Seriously, think about it. As a community we were plagued by diabetes and high blood pressure, and now thanks to over salted foods and super powerful sweeteners, so is everyone else. Because middleclass wages have frozen (adjusted for inflation) since Reagan’s first year, your dollar is getting stretched tighter and tighter. We can relate. In poor neighborhoods, food and other basics are of lower quality but higher price. And generally minorities and women make less money than their contemporaries.
This isn’t a sob story, though. I don’t want you to pity me. I’m actually quite excited. For the first time in American history we can have a conversation that everyone will understand. We look forward to making you laugh, making you think, upsetting you and challenging you. In the end, we did this because we felt like you, the audience, deserved something better than you’d been getting. And we finally do have a post-racial society, because apparently 99% of us aren’t doing too good.
It’s the future. And we are all black.