Do You Bear The Torch For Your Race?

February 17, 2007

On the Black In Business blog, Jim posted about personal weaknesses and improving them. I made a comment about how one of Jim’s weaknesses (poor spelling) could be interpreted as making blacks in general look like poor spellers. His response was very profound:

Every thing we do as black people reflect upon the whole race. If a white man cannot spell, he may be excused or just be a dumb white man, for us we carry the burden of representing the whole race. Until we are allowed to be one aspect of a diverse race of people, we risk never taking risk for fear of making all black people look bad.

Now in my defense, my comment was from the point of view that his misspellings would be interpreted as ignorance, which in turn would unfairly reflect on blacks in general. I correctly determined that he wasn’t very proficient with using a computer. Still, I’m embarrassed that I too fell into stereotyping.

Jim’s response made me think about how I also often bear the torch for my race. There have been plenty of instances in my life where I’ve been the first or only black to accomplish something. Whether it was the first to receive the Eagle Scout award, or being the only black at a technology company, I felt that I was representing my whole race. Even today, I feel that I have to be successful so that I can open doors for other blacks. Chris Rock said it best in “Head of State” when his aide said he shouldn’t quit in his campaign for the presidency:

“I wish I could quit. I wish it was that easy. You’re lucky, you are so lucky. You don’t know how good you got it. You just represent yourself. Me, I represent my whole race. If I quit, there won’t be another black candidate for 50 years.”

I’m willing to bet that most successful blacks feel that way deep down, that they have to succeed for our race, not just themselves. No other race gets this level of scrutiny. No other race has this level of pressure placed on each individual of that race. The Asian and Middle Eastern cultures probably come the closest, in that family honor is important. But like my wife said, “it takes a special person to be black. Most people don’t have the inner strength to live out what we go through in our lifetime.”

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Just for her or both of us?

February 14, 2007

Well, it’s that time of year where your love is measured in gifts, cards and flowers. Honestly though, I rather enjoy Valentine’s Day. I guess it helps that I’m married to someone that reciprocates my love. It certainly makes it easier and a lot more fun to find that one card that’s just right. However, when I was younger, I really disliked Valentine’s Day. From what I could see, it was just a holiday for females. They were the ones that got all the gifts while us guys had to scrounge up money to pay for said gifts. That’s probably why a lot of breakups happen in October and November. Gotta avoid “gift-giving season”. A prior relationship that I had was the main reason I was turned off on celebrating “V-Day”.

 

While in college, I dated this female for about a year and a half. We met while we were both at same college and then each transferred to different schools. Her school was close to my hometown and I would visit her and my parents every other weekend. Well, being a college student with no job, funds were pretty tight. When Valentine’s Day rolled around, I didn’t really have any spare money to get a nice gift. My girlfriend picked me up that weekend and brought me home. She let me borrow her car to drive back and forth between her and my parent’s place. That Sunday was Valentine’s Day. While on the way to pick up her up so that she could take me back to school, I stopped and picked up a nice card. When I got to her dorm, I left the card on the passenger seat and went up to her room.

 

Once I got there, she reached out her hands and said, “where’s my gift?” I told her that I hadn’t gotten her anything and she proceeded to go off on me. I remember something about “not caring about her” and “being too cheap to even get a card.” By this time I was pretty annoyed and ended the conversation by suggesting we leave so she could take me back to school. When she got in the car, she saw the card and looked at me and apologized. Needless to say, that was a pretty quiet two hour drive back to school. After she dropped me off, we kissed each other good-bye and she apologized again. She hopped back in her car and left while I settled into my dorm room. I thought about everything that happened and then it hit me, “that triflin’ chick didn’t even get ME anything. And she cusses ME out?!?!?”

 

Sad to say, but we weren’t together a few months later. I did learn a lot from that relationship though. That’s why it’s so nice to finally be with someone that appreciates and cherishes you as much as you do them. So to my wife…Happy Valentine’s Day baby.


DRM Go Bye-Bye?

February 8, 2007

Even Steve Jobs thinks DRM sucks. I must say, I almost feel vindicated. Total vindication will happen when music companies totally do away with this DRM nonsense. Believe me, I understand the arguments for it. I just feel that in the long run, its futile. I’m firmly in the camp that believes that if I already paid for the digital media, I shouldn’t have to pay again just to have it in another format. Music companies didn’t have a problem when we made copies with tapes. They only began to care when copies were able to be distributed to millions at a time for free.

 

One interesting point I’d like to make is, the rise in illegal downloads coincides with the decline in music singles. Right around the time Napster hit the scene, I found it hard to find singles to music I wanted to buy. Those I did find, cost almost as much as the whole album. And record execs wonder why their sales started slipping. Some how, they forgot about the whole “demand” thingy in “supply and demand”. Hopefully Apple will help the music companies see the light. Then I won’t have to register every single computer I use my iPod on.