To Be Black Is To Be Less Free

Not Black Enough

  1. I would be Baptist or Methodist
  2. I would have some athletic ability
  3. I would be able to dance (and likely sing, too)
  4. I would be heterosexual (and homophobic)
  5. I would be a Democrat
  6. I would likely have a larger-than-average penis (when I developed)
  7. I would be able to fight
  8. I would be funny and smile a lot
  9. I would eat sweet potato pie at Thanksgiving (not pumpkin pie)
  10. I wouldn’t be able to swim
  11. I would be scared of the woods
  12. I wouldn’t be good at school
  13. I would be a thief, lecher, slacker, liar, drug user, alchoholic, or a bully (I could be all, but I was at least one)
  14. I would be wholly incapable of showing up anywhere on time
  15. I would speak a certain way — in my context, a mashup of hood and country
  16. I would be deferential and respectful to white people
  17. I would always be on the edge of criminal behavior if not actively involved in criminal behavior
  18. I would be loud, especially if in the company of another black person
  19. I would be without a father or a strong, respectable black male role model in the home
  20. I would be fearful of the police and go out of my way to avoid any contact with them
  21. I would instinctively give other black people head nods or daps
  22. I would always back and support my people and remember my roots
  23. I would be able to and interested in shooting hoops as a default activity
  24. I would like hip hop, rap, R&B, or gospel music (and conversely, would not listen to rock, country, or classical music)
  25. I would dress sharply (Nike’s, FUBU, Polo, Hilfiger, so on) and have my hair on point

Not White, But (Mostly) Accepted

Being A Public Black Intellectual is Career Suicide

  1. a significant portion of your society will be actively hostile towards you
  2. the portion of readers who aren’t hostile require the condensation of thoughts into accessible, snack-able bits of content that are friendly to them emotionally and cognitively
  3. largely speaking, the only viable career pathway for you is as an academic

Why I’m Going Public Now

New Worlds Require New Questions




Author of the best-selling Start Finishing and the forthcoming Workways — Founder of Momentum —

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

When You’re Mixed-Race, Authenticity Is an Uphill Battle

Cops Deserve Life Sentences for Unjust Killing of Blacks

My name is Anna.

Every Dog Walk Is an Opportunity for Casual Racism

Black lives matter

white people helping activate white people

Why Many ‘Feel-Good’ Disability News Stories Are Harmful

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Charlie Gilkey

Charlie Gilkey

Author of the best-selling Start Finishing and the forthcoming Workways — Founder of Momentum —

More from Medium

Black Kid, White Dad

Racism & White Supremacy is Taught

Actions and Conversations for Black Allies