Letter to Professor Xavier

NOTE TO BLOG READERS: This letter obviously is not real. While it has strings of humor, the overall main issue being discussed is very real. It happens to me and many other persons of color far too often and it needs to stop.
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Date:  The Present

Dr. Charles Xavier, Founder and Director
Xavier’s School for Higher Learning
(formerly Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters)
1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center
Westchester County, New York 10451

Dear Professor Xavier,
I believe I am a mutant (or as your friend
Magneto would say, I am not homo-sapien, I am homo-superior.) Sir, I’m not a young mutant but for most of my life I’ve noticed that I have an ability to camouflage with my surroundings.  It sounds odd but often, I’m not aware of when this ability is being used.  I have no control over this ability but I know it exists. I am like a chameleon – an invisible man.  (Ralph Ellison, wherever your spirit is now, eat your heart out!)

Professor, I realize I should have come to you decades ago but, like so many other mutants on this planet, I thought I could handle my mutant ability all on my own.  After all these years, I’ve accepted the fact that I can’t handle this mutant ability so I’m finally reaching out to you.
Here is the list of basic, generally known personal information your assistant told me would be needed when corresponding with you, along with my picture.

  • Age: 52.RobFather-X (201206)
  • Gender:  Male.
  • Height:  6 ft.
  • Weight: 220 lbs-SOLID.
  • [Assumed] mutant ability: Camouflaging; able to blend-in with any inanimate object(s) or environment, becoming instantly invisible but only to some NON-persons of color.
  • Ethnic classification (not the government’s but how others view you): Negro/Colored/African-American/ Black.
  • Skin complexion: Caramel-butterscotch shade (aka light to brown-skinned).
  • Health status: Uh, healthy…as far as I know – and as determined by most recent annual medical physical.
  • Sexual Orientation:  Hmmm…if this means the first time I learned about sex, then that would be 1969 – the year I first discovered the joys of masturbation. Otherwise, what does this information have to with anything? Huh? Huh?
  • General appearance: “Clean looking”; with facial trim sporting “5 o’clock shadow” beard & mustache; bald head (like yours, Professor), dark eyebrows; sometimes I wear glasses. No detectable or obvious body odor.
  • General attire:  Clean, pressed clothing; nothing ever torn, badly worn, oily, greasy or smelly.
  • Education:  I’m smart. In other words, many would have to get up before “o-dark-thirty” (military jargon; meaning extremely early in the morning, like way before dawn) to pull a fast one on me! Otherwise, I have variations of formal education, twenty years of military education and training, and years of street smarts residing in my head.
  • Overall classification: Alpha male, Human.

You see Professor X, with all this very visible information about me, I wonder how it is that so very often, some (NOT ALL) non-persons of color Black man silhouette(aka WHITE persons;  sorry sir, but it’s usually a person of Caucasian ethnicity can walk into a room, speak to every other white person in the room – often calling them by name and yet NOT see (or hear me talking) or speak to me – a person who happens to be in the same vicinity, if not 2, 3 or even 5 feet away from those others he/she has just spoken to? How is this possible – especially if I am well-acquainted with that white person, with whom I am a co-worker or classmate? Sometimes I might be in a chit-chat conversation with some non person of color and this sort of thing would happen. I’m treated as though I was not present in the same room! Even my voice seems to become instantly inaudible to the white person who just spoke to everyone else. Professor, what irks me is that often, about a half hour to an hour or so later, that same white person will come back into the room (from which neither I nor the other people have left) and actually speak to me – to ask ME something or worse, ask me for something! Did that white man or white woman not see me the first time he/she came to the room? Or is it because my mutant ability to camouflage with the things around me e.g. walls, furniture – somehow kicked in without my knowledge and made me invisible to the eyes of that person? I need to know, Professor!

Professor X, I understand that this sort of thing happens to many people of color. Other persons of color and I talk about this sort of thing all the time! In fact, it was a close friend of mine who strongly urged me to write this letter. It’s a bit relieving to know that I am not the only one with this mutant ability and that there are indeed perhaps hundreds, if not thousands of other Blending in-2people of color with this same camouflage/invisible man-like ability. Perhaps you can also help me to understand why it is I only tend to become visible whenever some people of  pale complexion and ignorance need or want something from me.  During such instances the people who had before ignored or acted as though they didn’t see or hear me, now can’t seem to stay out of my face until they get what they want! Yet once I’ve accommodated whatever it is they needed or wanted, I’m once again made seemingly invisible. Once again I’m camouflaged with the walls and floors of the hallways, the soda and junk food machines in the lunchrooms as well as the tables and chairs there; in restrooms, and often with the walls, chairs and table in conference and classrooms settings. Don’t forget my strong voice is blended in with the sounds in the air as well whenever such people are around! 

Perhaps those people possess a mutant ability of their own!  Perhaps they can activate my mutant camouflage ability without my knowledge! Wow! Don’t you think that could be dangerous, Professor X? Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (led by Magneto)If this is true, wouldn’t such people be considered “evil mutants”?  Anyway, this mutant camouflage/invisible man ability of mine is amazing but if I can’t control it or if others can activate/control it without my knowledge, then what’s the point of having it? I don’t know about those other people of color who have abilities similar to mine but for me, sir, when certain Caucasians ignore me at their selective convenience, it’s very annoying and frankly, disrespectful!  I also don’t like, nor do I want – to be controlled by anyone else.  I don’t believe I’m asking for any special attention here, Professor X but I’ve always been taught that when you walk into a room of people you know, it is polite to speak to everyone – even those you might not like. Don’t you agree, sir?

I’ve come to you for help, Professor X. I know you have helped hundreds of people with abilities such as mine as well as those born with certain generically natural abilities, such as high intelligence, nerdiness/geekness and even sexual orientation; traits which many in society still deem unnatural, abominable to their religion or deity and/or which they consider to be not “normal” – whatever the fuck “normal” happens to be! Pardon my language, sir. I’m just upset. I’ve often considered that with my seemingly uncontrollable mutant ability to blend in with my surroundings or become invisible, that perhaps, if I punched in the face the very person(s) who ignore me – you know, to help shake off their “selective handicap” of color-blindness and social ignorance, then perhaps such people would begin to actually see and hear me! Don’t worry Professor; I’m typically not a violent man and I’m old enough to realize that sucker-punching someone in the face – even someone whom I might suspect might be an evil mutant trying to control me,  probably isn’t a good idea.  I’m not trained to fight other mutants…yet. But even you have to admit sir, the idea is funny and doing such a thing will certainly draw some attention! I can just imagine the blood gushing from the nose of that person I just punch! The thought and image of such an action itself sexually arouses me! Ha! Ha! Ha! (It must be another suppressed mutant ability manifesting itself at this later stage of my life.)

Seriously Professor, if you can find a way for me to control or better yet, perhaps remove this strange mutant ability of mine to instantly camouflage with my surroundings (whenever certain white persons, possibly evil mutants come near me while I’m in the presence of other white persons), I’d greatly appreciate it. I’m well aware that the chances of removing any genetically traits with which I was born are slim to none but — I X-Men team photo-1thought I’d ask for it anyway! Please contact me at a time suitable for you. My home and email addresses are enclosed.

Thank you for listening and understanding, Professor Xavier.  Thank you for all the hard work you’ve done to help make the world more accepting of people who may be different or who may possess abilities different from others. Oh, and please pass my regards to the gang; that awesome team of X-Men, each of whom I’ve always greatly admired!

Sincerely,

RobFather-X
(aka preferred mutant code names: Camouflage or The Spook Who Sat by the Door)
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Keepin It…REAL!

The Stigma of the “Angry Black Man” (Part 2)

How would YOU react if you overheard the following, particularly in an office setting?

Scene: An office setting. Two White women,(whom I’ll call “Veronica” and “Betty“) are in their early to upper-30’s, talking. “Veronica” is the manager; “Betty”an employee of near-to-equal status of Veronica. Both are in the manager’s office whose door is wide open; both are using their “inside whisper voices”. However, on this particular day, activity around that office was quiet so a good ear in-passing could hear every word spoken.

Betty: (talking to Veronica) “The receptionist said Mr. ‘X’ is here for that 2 o’clock appointment with you regarding that issue he emailed us about.”
Veronica: “Oh, I know. He wants to talk about issue (X). I didn’t answer the email he sent so I guess he decided to see me personally.”
Betty: “Well, his complaint seems valid. Let’s hear what he has to say and we’ll go from there.”
Veronica: “Ok, but not alone! I’ll need you to sit in on the meeting with me, you know… just in case he gets belligerent….”
Betty: (interrupts Veronica) “Belligerent? About what? We know this man; I don’t get that from him. He’s not…”
Veronica: (interrupting Betty) “Just stay here, just in case. I’m not gonna be in this room with that nigger by myself! Those people are always complaining about something and always seem to have some kind of issue they’re mad or upset about!”

FACT 1: I could have made this up (which I didn’t) but even if I did, it wouldn’t matter. SOMEBODY out there will say that they either know of or have been witness to, a scenario exactly like or similar to this.

FACT 2: It is 2012. White women have been working, partying, dating AND sleeping with Black men for years! When they see us on TV or the big screen, they even seem to also admire us. Yet many (not all) are STILL scared or fearful of us (Black men) no matter how well or how NON-threatening we may look or how professional we may present ourselves! For some strange reason, the “innate fear of the Black man” still resides within them. “Veronica” and “Betty” give their sisters a bad rep!

FACT 3: Since joining the civilian work force after the Navy, I have discovered that in some settings, many White women (and some White men too), will hardly ever be found in a room or office ALONE, in an one-on-one meeting with a Black man (or other person of color) to discuss any issues of a direct personal or work-related, or business-providing nature. If the primary person having such a meeting is White, nine times out of ten, (at least in my experience) the other person “just sitting in” is always going to be…White.

FACT 4: Expecting a Black man (or any other person of color) to meet alone with Person 1 is rarely, ever going to happen (again, I’m speaking in some settings), as Person 1 would always give one of the following top three “reasons” (aka, lies) for why Person 2 is also in on the meeting:
(a) Person 2 is there “in training”;
(b) Person 2 is there to make sure the meeting is being conducted in a “professional manner”; or
(c) the issue concerns Person 2’s “area of responsibility”.

While there may some truth to any of these “reasons” for Person 2’s presence, the client/co-worker/subject still has a right to meet one-on-one with Person 1 if he or she feels it necessary. However, certain White persons I know are, or at least seem to be, intimidated by Black men (and Black women) in the corporate setting. Based on my experience, some of them will use – and have used – the words “belligerent” or “militant” to describe almost any Black person’s expressed concerns or views about a situation. They will say that particular Black person “has a bad attitude” or that he (or she) was “being belligerent in the meeting”. If they know the person served in the armed forces, they will accuse him (in such an inaccurate application of the word) of being a “militant”, especially if he happens to disagree with an issue or intelligently (and respectfully) expresses an adverse opinion. At least TWO college degree-holding managers I know have actually said that my “negative attitude was the result of having served in the military for such a long time that it made me a militant.” I laugh each time I hear this!  It is unfortunate that honorable Black men such as I cannot reasonably express a complaint, dispute, or legitimate concern without certain people still feeling the need to “protect” themselves from us with the presence of some other person nearby as they jump to the automatic conclusion that I/we Black men might somehow get “belligerent” on them…EVEN THOUGH THERE IS NO PRIOR OR SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THEIR PERCEPTION!

Normally, I am NOT one to pull the “race card”, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see, hear or learn from others, the things that are said and/or done in workplaces, stores, schools, etc. No one can EVER convince me that racism, bigotry, and hatred is “dying a fast death” or that it “no longer exists” in America! Such may be dying in SOME parts of America but, like a cancer, it has its own of staying and/or hiding where it is or spreading to places one might least expect. Only the “radiation” of KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING and RESPECT FOR THE DIFFERENCE OF OTHERS in our society, capped with SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE will eradicate this cancer of racism, racist remarks, and bigotry. Until then, anyone who thinks otherwise I shall call “fool” straight to their face, as I continue to LIVE with the stigma of the “angry Black man” every day of my life! There’s still more to come on this issue. Stand by!
Keepin’ It…REAL!

A Message to My Haters

Certain people have been testing my patience of late. However, in the storm of this seemingly on-going “climate” (for lack of a better word), I shall maintain my kool… until such time I determine when it is necessary to take righteous, defensive action. These particular persons expect me to go the “nigger route” and do or say certain things against them without me first giving considerable thought to the repercussions of any action(s) I might take. Let me be clear and direct as I speak to my haters at a level which I believe they can understand.

Hey, muthafuckas!
I suspect, in your own cowardly ways, under the cover of shadows, and through the slave-like use of mindless minions, that you monitor my activities, my words, and perhaps even my personal life. You are a sneaky lot; afraid to face and address ME as an adult and as a MAN. I call you PUNK; I call you PUSSY! Whenever you DO get up the nerve to actually face me, your knees shake uncontrollably; your hands and fingers tremble. I can practically hear your heart race and pound to the point of near bursting through your chests. I notice the little squeak in your voice on certain words. I see the beads of sweat covering your brow. I marvel at it all as I watch your body betray the facade of bravery and self-control you are trying to maintain as I, a 5’11, 225lb, well-built, brown-complexion Black man stands confidently in front of you. You cannot understand how it is that I could actually listen to your shit and STILL maintain my prose, my koolness!  My guess is that you secretly wish I would just knock you the fuck out just so your body would stop shaking, giving away the evidence of your…FEAR. I cannot be held responsible for your personal fears of me. I have never, nor will I ever, except in self-defense, lift a hand against you. However, your fear of me IS a weapon; one which you have freely given over to me to use against you. You fool.

Yes muthafuckas, I am BLACK and very PROUD of it! I am also INTELLIGENT, with a superb command of that intelligence. I also have an excellent command of WORDS – both orally AND written; better perhaps than most of you, my “beloved” haters. I may not hold certain levels of college “degrees” but I make up for that in ways which cannot be taught in ANY college, university or other institution of higher learning. I do not now, nor can I ever expect any of you to comprehend, in the smallest iota of your fucked-up brains, what that means. You haters like to act as if you KNOW me, that you know WHO I am and WHAT I’m all about. Granted, you know my name, where I work, and certain other commonly known tidbits that, in the grand scheme that is MY life, are really insignificant. Here’s a news flash: YOU KNOW ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the REAL me or my life! You need to STOP PRETENDING as much – both to yourselves and to others. You are only showing yourselves to be idiots.

I am ONE OF MANY BLACK MEN who was raised to conduct himself with CLASS, STYLE, DIGNITY, HONESTY, CONFIDENCE, and SELF-RESPECT. I’ve lived by this code of conduct all my life. Haters like you need to stop thinking and plotting to take any of that away from me; I’m simply not going to allow it! I live by the phrase “death before dishonor”, which means frankly, that NO ONE, not you haters or the ones whose asses you often kiss, will ever get me to bow down and kiss ass. I would rather die before dishonoring myself to such a degree of disgrace! You haters are an evil, bunch; envious of who and what I am, what I have accomplished in my life, and of what I am trying to become. Instead of using your skills and knowledge to work with, support and help me (and others like me) become a better person, you’d rather tear me down because you cannot stand to see, let alone tolerate, a Black man wanting, working, and earning his way to get and enjoy the benefits of the “golden ring” in life.

I loathe your hateful, racist, bigoted, and self-righteous characteristics and your vain attempts to break me. Yet, I do not hate you. In fact, I pity each of you, because, for no valid reason, which I will never understand, you will be always be envious of me; you will always be afraid of, or threatened by, me; and you will always continue to fall short of ever becoming the good, decent and honorable person that I am. I draw inspiration and strength, not discouragement or weakness from haters like you. I shall keep fighting the good fight and always stand against you until my last breath. So… to all my haters, I say… FUCK YOU!
Keepin’ It…REAL!

The Stigma of the “Angry Black Man” (Part 1)

There is a term that Black people, in general, hate for people who aren’t black people to use. That term is, “YOU PEOPLE”. Considering certain things that have been going on both in my life and in other places in the city where I live as well as throughout various parts of the country, I have decided to PURPOSEFULLY use the term “YOU PEOPLE” in this post, certainly not as ANY reference to my fellow Black people, and not necessarily to insult anyone reading this. I simply want to get your minds on where I see things regarding the “angry Black man” stigma. Some (only some!) of you non-Black folk act or feel (for some strange reason!), that every Black man (or woman) is angry; and being “angry”, then we must be angry at, and with, YOU PEOPLE for whatever reason YOU PEOPLE tend to come up with!

SIDE NOTE: Any non-Black persons reading this note who takes offense then I say GOOD! My words fully apply to some of YOU PEOPLE in the spirit in which you’ve already assumed that I must have written them: as an “angry Black man”. It is my sincere hope however, that YOU PEOPLE will take something from my words and learn a thing or two more about Black people, in particular, Black MEN, for I wrote this specifically with many of YOU PEOPLE in mind! For every other NON-BLACK person (and even the few of my Black haters) who are NOT OFFENDED by my words, I hope you understand that this note is simply from MY point of view… as a Black man. Of course, it will not apply to everyone. There are indeed some very GOOD people in the world. However, since NONE of you are living in MY skin, there is only so much I can expect you to understand. Those who can will be able to relate to nearly everything I’m saying.

First, let me premise this little commentary by stating very clearly that I am NOT an “angry Black man”; at least not by any twisted definitive, stereotypical meanings many of YOU PEOPLE have been taught, have taught your children, and have taught and CONTINUE to teach AND believe yourselves to be true! In fact, I am a happy, if not reasonably content, person! Sure, I have issues and life’s challenges just like everybody else, but I didn’t get to be my age by not having learned SOMETHING about life and about other people. I happened to be a man of reasonable intelligence, wit and charm. I have a great sense of humor, logical (not just common) sense, wisdom, skills and a keen awareness of who I am, where I came from, and where I would like to go in the path that is my life. These traits and more could apply to ANY dick-swinging male on the planet. Just because there are BLACK MEN with such traits makes him no different from any other male.

Second, although many of YOU PEOPLE tend to think so damn little of us Black men, I cannot dismiss the fact that there have been, and currently are, quite a few Black men who perpetuate the stigma of the “angry Black man” and who tend to “fulfill” the stereotypes you might have of Black men in general. Those exceptions notwithstanding, I still say that many of YOU PEOPLE do tend to look down on us. YOU PEOPLE have a strong tendency to assume that nearly every Black man you see has “anger issues”; issues stemming and carried over from: a bad childhood, a broken home, fatherless guidance, drugged-out mothers, physical, mental, and sexual abuse, disabilities and illness, jailed/imprisoned relatives, a lack of personal attention, having a lack of respect for other people from other ethnic groups, unemployment, certain economic conditions or poverty, poor educational and recreational opportunities, a lack of people willing to care or love us, just to name a few. Yes, some of YOU PEOPLE do in fact, think and believe all this – and more – to be the answers for why the “angry Black man” exists. With a few exceptions, generally, you could not be farther from the truth!

With such mentality had by YOU PEOPLE, it would not matter how many Black men smiled at you, spoke pleasantly to you, or could walk into a room in the fullest of confidence, their heads held high. YOU PEOPLE would still fear or think less of them. With such mentality, it would not matter how many Black men were well-groomed and dressed, carrying their own sense of class, swagger, or how well they conducted themselves as mature, self-controlled persons – even in the most STRESSFUL of situations. How often have you heard stories of BLACK MEN gunning down hundreds of people or blowing up things, endangering and taking the lives of others? Yet YOU PEOPLE still show signs of those oh-so-very-damn-obvious vibes of FEAR of…us! Yes, YOU PEOPLE continue to show upstanding Black men that you are fearful of us! And for what! What are you so damn afraid of? I’ve seen how many of YOU PEOPLE prefer to deal with a Black man who is lighter (and I’m talking very light-to-almost-White) in skin tone than those men who are darker in complexion! What the fuck is THAT all about? (And at this point, I have to ask my own brothers and sisters the very same question, for some of US do the same thing among our own kind! But…that is another topic for another day!)

Listen: This is NOT any racist charge; it is a FACT based on fear or being uncomfortable with someone BECAUSE of race and gender!
We (Black men) see this in hundreds of instances where many of YOU PEOPLE clutch your purses tightly, lock the car doors, and in some cases, even change directions to walk on the OTHER side of the street- at FIRST SIGHT of a….BLACK man, just like a person does when he sees a big dog heading in his direction! I am NOT making this stuff up! I CAN’T make it up! It’s 2012 and it’s STILL happening! The brothas and I talk about it – and quite often, too; never in jest, but in sheer wonderment! If one of YOU PEOPLE were walking side by side in a forest with me, the wildest animals living there would attack YOU first – simply because of the scent or pheromones of FEAR which you tend to emit! It makes me wonder and shake my head in disgust sometimes on how obviously fearful some of YOU PEOPLE can really be over a seemingly harmless individual simply because of that mix of skin color and gender! Many of YOU PEOPLE also emit this fear in the silly and very awkward ways in which you communicate with us Black men whenever we assert ourselves in an effort to peacefully address or resolve a situation. If we raise our voices, even on the smallest scale, or write a letter in an assertive manner, YOU PEOPLE tend to assume that we are acting out in the “angry Black man” mode. Your initial reaction to that is to try ever so hard to choose your words carefully in responding to those situations of confrontation or dispute. How is it then, that unless a gun is pointed in your face, you’ve never shown ANY of these awkward behaviors towards WHITE men?  And I know some of you are just waiting at the edge of your seats for President Barack Obama to show his true, “angry Black man” or “real nigger” nature! Admit it! You’ve probably said to yourselves, “No black person is THAT damn cool under all that stress!” It really bothers some that Obama, like myself, and other of men of my race are the epitome of coolness! (or “kool”, which is my preferred method of spelling when using the word in this sense.) Some brothas have this coolness it to a very high degree; others have it at other degrees! It’s really that simple when it comes to the coolness of Black men! The REAL “icing on the cake” of YOU PEOPLE daring to deal with a Black man who is not happy with you, or with the services you provide, or the way you’ve been treating him is: AVOIDANCE, LYING and DENYING that you are available to meet or talk with him either in your office or some neutral setting. Many of YOU PEOPLE like to have your secretary or some other office lackey pass on this same blatant LIE to the “angry Black man” (or Black MEN) patiently standing and waiting in the foyer who, just five minutes before, peacefully asked to see you. YOU PEOPLE always tend to jump to conclusions, assuming that the Black man is already very pissed off and… well, you “just can’t deal with that man now!” You know, some of us Black men have been in that situation (of wanting to meet and talk with YOU PEOPLE in the office to address or resolve an issue) only to have your office lackey AND sometimes an armed SECURITY GUARD come back to tell us that “not available” lie. You would send an ARMED guard to ensure that the “angry Black man” (or angry Black MEN) won’t go ballistic! As I said, YOU PEOPLE think very little of us Black men and you continue to erroneously underestimate our ability to control and conduct ourselves accordingly as well as our ability to deal with you personally in a peaceful, mature, and rational manner! Shame on you for thinking like that about us and ALL men of color!

So what to do about the “angry Black man” stigma? Well, first thing is for many of YOU PEOPLE to stop believing the hype, the stereotypes, and the perceived and assumed social problems of the world which some of YOU PEOPLE think contribute to the development of EVERY Black man in America, thus making him to be “the way he is” towards other people and issues. All of THAT is the reason why you are afraid to deal with us! Second, other than skin color, generally Black men are no different from any other male. We have moments, just like you and non-Black males, when we get upset or angry over certain things, too! Therefore, do not be afraid to deal with or even confront us based on such small-minded, unproven fears or worse, our skin color. We are still MEN; and MOST of us are still peaceful, intelligent and RATIONAL human beings! I’ll write more on this subject later.

Keepin’ It…REAL!