How often have we treated substandard service by people who look like us as an expectation? How often do we assume “dey Black?” How many times have we accepted that too many of us are lazy? Criminal? No good? Why is it that whenever an event hosted by a Black person is late, the reason is because the event is on “Black time?” Sleepy after a meal? Most Black people accept the explanation as the “itis.”
Ever wonder why? Black people have been so engaged in the experience of white supremacy and Racism for so long that most of its effects are overlooked in just about every circumstance. As a result, many Black people developed internal biases over the generations that effect how we perceive each other in everyday life experiences. While the examples illustrated are common, the seriousness of painting us as substandard even in the most benign circumstances is clear. There are expectations of behaviors that we have assigned to ourselves that impact how we relate to each other and think about ourselves, and as sad as it seems, it contributes to the overall stigma of white supremacy and helps self-perpetuate the ideology.
The truth is, we are relentless in accosting ourselves over perceptions of behaviors we have given ourselves as part of our unique “culture,” several of which are negative and impactful in support of the white supremacist notion of Black inferiority.
Take the issue of Black business owners and their customer service for example. The burden for customer service value over and above what would be considered for white business owners is actually part of the reason negative feelings may be understood. This is not to say poor customer service should ever be acceptable, nor should expectations be any less because the establishment is Black owned. However, if the thinking includes an expectation of poor service on the part of the “Black” business, this expectation may be what ends up turning the experience into a bad one, not only for the customer, but for the business as well.
There are many business owners who provide marginal service. The problem arises when the problem becomes magnified because the business is “Black.” The fact of the matter is, white business owners routinely profile Black customers, provide marginal service and are even ill mannered, not to mention supremacist, but there is usually no expectation of poor practices by white businesses on the basis of their “whiteness.” In fact, for generations, the comparison has always had a tinge of supremacism in that the white business was supposedly inherently better. Moreover, these businesses are not even seen as “white businesses,” but simply “businesses.” It would appear the only time a distinction is made along with heavy scrutiny is when the business in question is “Black,” and arises when Black people decide to assign our own internal biases of inferiority to this reality believing poor customer service is indicative to, and expected from the Black business owner. The truth is, people in general, regardless of race sometimes provide awful service so much that an entire cottage industry exists of expensive consultants whose only job is to teach proper customer service to businesses. It's only when the mistreatment is from a Black person or business, then it becomes amplified and magnified until it covers the entire race and becomes yet another problem to "overcome."
It is just like anything else that is measured in terms of value when viewing through the "inferiority" lens. But what is the “inferiority lens?” It is the internal, feeling eye that we have developed from generations of abuse and oppression brought on by the ideology of white supremacy and the system of Racism that supports it, in addition to higher, almost superhuman standards Black people had to create for ourselves to carry us over the hurdles, barriers and other impediments of denial and discrimination. Let’s face it. We have come to expect far more of ourselves than we expect from anyone else, from an impossible unity of hive mind to treatment of the kind we believe we expect from each other simply because we are surrounded by Racist oppression of one form or another, from the subtle to the outright.
Of course, there is no intent of presumption about personal experiences as a victim of mistreatment and disrespect, however, it must be stated that these experiences are personal, and while there are others who share similar experiences, these are still "individual" and the tendency here, that must be cautioned against, is continuing to throw a shroud of similarities over an entire group of individual people because of the actions of a few. Too often many of us are so quick to cosign on these experiences, even if we haven’t actually experienced them ourselves. Essentially, we fall on the sword of the "we as a people" trope far too often, as though we don’t realize this trope is really a ploy of many supremacist ploys to keep us searching for unrealistic goals we assume all others have achieved for themselves, and for which no other group has ever had to or is ever expected to achieve. There is an unspoken level of responsibility placed on Black people by virtue of our unique experiences of mistreatment, where "at least we should use our color as a buffer," so to speak, when dealing with others who share our color. This is an extremely lofty objective, but reality should have taught us by now that Black people are human beings, too. Far too often we have tried to be for more than that in order to be considered simply human. Being human, no one Black person is exactly the same, not even to the extent of individual variations of skin pigmentation.
But for the assignment of the color Black to our bodies generations ago, along with the senseless creation of an inferior value attached to it, we wouldn’t be as predisposed to grouping ourselves as monolithic. If we could create an entire culture with the best of us within it despite the constant generational lie perpetrated by our original enslavers, the question is why so many of us can’t or won’t take off the inferiority lens? We challenge white people to look at their “privilege.” We challenge them to think critically about their internal biases, especially the ones that they don’t think they have. But what about us? What about our own internal biases that handicap us in business and personal relationships?
This question will always haunt many our collective of people who, while believing we still haven’t achieved unity, at the same time, still can’t seem to escape the seemingly inseparable stigma of our own making, perpetuating it through a real and abiding unity which binds us by our shared assigned color and eternal struggle for equality, equity, opportunity and justice.