Figure 1: Accidentally called out America on its own bullshit
I was probably one of the last people to watch this video, since I only saw it about 2 or 3 weeks ago. I wasn’t actually filled with a sense of pride because Derrick knew what he was talking about. I was filled with pride because the belligerent interviewer got his ass handed to him, and justly so for making the racist assumption that a dark dude with a shell necklace was simply voting for Obama because it’s the ‘black’ thing to do. Overall, I was very happy after watching this interview.
Then I read this commentary, written by Derrick as a guest column for CNN.
After reading it, I was VERY angry.
There are two things that piss me the fuck off about Derrick Ashong, and what’s interesting is that these two things really have nothing to do with Derrick Ashong at all.
The first thing seems relatively superficial – Derrick’s writing style. In reality, it’s not “Derrick’s writing style”, per se. Rather, it’s the writing style of many intelligent people (and not just blacks) who, when put in front of a general audience, feel the need to really gun it intellectually. They emphasize sophistication over clarity which, ironically, is exactly the wrong way to connect with the average person. So I guess I’m pissed off at this emphasis rather than the writing style itself, which is why my anger really has nothing to do with Derrick Ashong.
Anyway, If you read the commentary you’ll notice that it’s filled with four-syllable words that are rarely used in normal conversation. Reading Derrick’s article aloud is damn near impossible. While this demonstrates either an impressively masterful grasp of English vocabulary or ready access to an online thesaurus, it does two things that are very negative:
- Makes his writing difficult to digest: meaning that the message of his commentary, which is a very good one and should be absorbed by everyone, will probably be discarded by the average (i.e. easily distracted) reader as soon as they encounter the word ‘sophomoric’. This effectively renders his message as useless as if he’d responded to the interviewer on the YouTube video by flinging poop at him.
- Makes him look like he’s trying too hard to impress someone: like the first issue, this perception will dilute his message. Blue collar blacks and whites alike will, because of his language, view him as elitist, and dismiss his opinions altogether for a very simple and even logical reason – they’ll assume that Derrick doesn’t understand them, so his message can’t apply to them. They’ll do this even if they haven’t read/understood his message, and even if his message actually does apply to them (and it does)
I’m sure SEBPL will one day post an article entitled “Showing Off Intellectually” (they came close with this article), and explain the ins and outs of how smart black people everywhere feel the need to always max out their intellectual capacity in public, even if it makes them impossible to understand or a pain in the ass to deal with. It’s is similar to someone driving a Corvette at 160mph at all times just because they know it can go that fast. Derrick is using way more intellectual horsepower than is necessary to get his point across, and doing so is getting him in his own way. The shit needs to stop.
The second thing that pisses me off about Derrick (remember, I’m pissed ABOUT him, not AT him) involves subtle racism. If Derrick were white, none of this shit would’ve been news. Why? Because people wouldn’t necessarily be surprised that a white guy knew the issues and the candidates’ stances on them. It wouldn’t be a big deal, and it wouldn’t be newsworthy.
But a black guy, especially a dark black guy, is a different story. I can only imagine that the asshole reporter approached Derrick hoping to hear a ridiculous emotional motivation for supporting Obama: namely “BECAUSE HE’S BLACK!” or “I DUNNO, I JUST LIKE THE GUY AND THINK HE CAN CHANGE THINGS!” What’s even more enraging is that the reporter wasn’t the only one who thought this way. MOST PEOPLE thought this way, including a lot of black people.
Any person, black or white, who forwards you Derrick’s video gushing about how he knew his shit (instead of gushing about how dumb the reporter is) harbors the same latently racist attitude as the reporter. Why? Because that person is, like the reporter, either surprised or downright shocked that a black guy would know the issues so well.
I offer a challenge for people to dig deep, and really examine what they liked about the video. Did you like the video because the presumptive, racist reporter made the mistake of assuming Derrick was an idiot based on his appearance and, as a result, wound up looking like one himself? Or did you like it because, to your surprise, Derrick was able to pose a lucid and logical defense of Barack Obama?
Be honest with yourself. Subtle racism’s a bitch, ain’t it?