There are some things in the world that Black people collectively understand. We do not even have to explain it, we all just get it, and we can have a collective moment for group laughter or group understanding. One comedian that has portrayed this collective Black understading well is Shay Moore. While most of us have never met her, we can all laugh at her videos because this is a collective Black experience for many of us. It is as if we all had the same parents growing up.
Recently another comedian @lite_th entertainer has gone viral on TikTok sharing his interpretation of video of the Sesame Street character Elmo on The Tonight Show showing Jimmy Fallon how to make ‘Oscar Sloppy Joes.’ He was listing the ingredients for the recipe. As Elmo was speaking, he said, “It’s gross stuff, but it tastes good when you put it all together. Onions, garlic, celery… balsamic vinegar. That’s a big word for Elmo.” His videos are funny to many Black people because we understand codeswitching in the workplace.
While these are examples of humor that involve the Black community, there are some times that Black people want to have more serious conversations with Black people. For instance, after the Ahmaud Arbery verdict, I was curious how many Black people had been asked to serve on a jury. I prefaced my comment with “Black People” and asked my question. I did not desire to hear how many White people had been asked to serve on juries, not because that is of no interest to me, but because it is already glaringly apparent that White people make up the majority of those who serve on juries. It was a question I was asking Black people to spark a conversation and for us to look deeply into why we are not being asked as often as others. But like clockwork, White people overlooked me directing the comment towards Black people and started sharing their jury stories.
What would help many White people is for them to understand that everything is not their lane. And that’s okay. There are many things about White people that I just do not understand, such as raisins in potato salad, questionable dishes that involve Jell-O, clapping off beat, hearing the beat and still dancing with no rhythm, cooking without seasonings. I am sure the list is extensive. But hey, if White people want to have a conversation about how delicious raisins are in potato salad, go for what you know. Maybe that is your tradition. Maybe y’all are all in on it, and Black people aren’t a part of that conversation. AND THAT IS OKAY.
What I need White people to understand is that EVERY conversation that involves Black people is not your business. White people act as if they are getting a paycheck from the, I Mind The Business Of Black People Club. White people have this overwhelming compulsion to be involved in Black business that does not pertain to them. Before you feel the need to tell me that life is about learning from others and having conversations, let me stop you right there. This is not about having conversations between Black people and White people to foster growth and learning. This is about the deliberate insertion of White people into Black conversations, often to derail the topic and center themselves. And 99.9% of the time, they come from a place of not understanding, which causes issues within the overall conversation, and serves as a distraction. Why? BECAUSE THE CONVERSATION WAS NEVER FOR THEM! IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!
Many White people cannot see that this urge to insert themselves into Black conversations comes from a place of arrogance. What is a conversation if White people do not jump in to offer their opinion? Does the conversation even exist?
I see this often happen online, and I have decided to start tagging many of my tweets with #BPB meaning Black People Business. What is Black People Business? Well, I am glad you asked. Black People Business is a Black person speaking to Black people about issues that center Black people. If any answers to questions are needed, they are being asked of Black People. If we are discussing the cookout, we do not need any input from you. That means, White people, the conversation does not involve you. And as much as your fingers are itching to give Black people your thoughts, challenge yourself to resist the urge to offer your opinion. And I know that is difficult for many White people to do because they are used to everything being centered around them. White people are used to being the centralized voice. White people are used to their opinions always being needed and heard. But when Black people speak to Black people, your voice does not need to be at the center. Perhaps this is a time for you to just listen. Let Black people have a moment that centers Black people. It is okay for every conversation not to center White people. It is okay for you to acknowledge this particular conversation doesn’t pertain to me.
Finally, let me say while this blog is written in a lighthearted manner, we have seen the real-life ramifications when White people don’t mind their business. We have seen it from “BBQ Becky” to the tragic death of Ahmaud Arbery. The next time you want to insert yourself into Black People Business, first ask yourself why do I feel compelled to insert my comments into this conversation and then do us all a favor, don’t.
Categories: Thoughts, Musings and Reflections