I don’t like collard greens or sweet potato pie. I don’t eat grits—with sugar, eggs, shrimp, cheese or salt. Don’t eat them period. I’ve learned how to play dominoes and spades probably 20 times now and for the life of me, I still don’t know what the heck I’m doing. I can’t remember the rules long enough to call them up the next time somebody tries to draw me into a game. I’ve never seen I’m Gonna Get You Sucka or Coming to America in their entirety. And I really don’t see what all the fuss over Anita Baker is about, although admitting that almost got me beat up one time.
For these and probably a dozen more reasons, I’ve had my Black card threatened on more occasions than I can rightly count. Even my own daughter tried to take it when it came out that she could beat me pretty easily in two Black girl rites of passage: numbers and double dutch. Forget that my graduate work is in African-American studies or that I can flawlessly transition from the Electric Slide to the Wobble Dance without being that person who gets the rhythm all jacked up. Doesn’t matter. You might be born with it, but holding on to it is a whole different story. Lawd don’t I know it. And you might just lose your black card if:
1. You stumble through the first stanza of Lift Every Voice and Sing (or you only come in loud and proud on the chorus) but you know “Moves Like Jagger” word for word.
2. You can name every character on Gossip Girl but struggle to identify the three original cast members on Dreamgirls.
3. You can’t celebrate Barack Obama being in the White House, even if you don’t agree with his politics.
4. You ease your hand down to lock your car doors or subtly grasp your purse strap tighter when you see a band of young, Black men approaching.
5. You brazenly use the N-word in mixed company or even worse, you call a person in mixed company the N-word.
6. You’d rather wear an offensively scaggy lace front or a ri-damn-diculous weave than be caught dead rocking your natural hair.
7. You don’t have at least one uncle living in his glory days, an aunt who’s hanging onto 35 when she’s almost 65, or a cousin who “went away” for a little while.
8. You cannot, on command, list five Luther Vandross songs.
9. You don’t support Black businesses—and you badmouth them to anybody who’ll listen—because you had a bad experience one time seven years ago.
10. You call Kool-Aid by its actual flavor instead of identifying it solely by its color.
11. You don’t get teary-eyed watching The Color Purple, Women of Brewster Place or that Disney commercial with the little boy talking to his grandpa in sign language.
12. You still identify folks as “high yellow” or having “good hair” (I mean, check your calendar. It’s almost 2012).
13. You don’t even pretend to show respect while folks are praying, even if you and God are on the outs.
14. You aren’t familiar with the historical value of the year 1619 but you think it sounds like a good number to play.
15. You believe the only way to celebrate your daughter’s Blackness is to give her a name ending in some variation of –ika, -isha or –ima.
16. You refuse to live in a neighborhood with too many colored folks because you only feel like you’ve arrived if you have a white or Asian neighbor.
17. You shake your hair out of your eyes, flick it off of each shoulder or wear a scrunchie around your wrist to put it up in a ponytail and take it back down, then put it up in a ponytail and take it back down, then put it up…
18. You don’t feel the least bit funny calling a man or woman old enough to be one of your grandparents by their first name.
19. You’ve never watched an episode of The Cosby Show (bonus points if you secretly wished you were a part of the family).
20. You vehemently claim HBCUs are subpar schools but you graduated from a state institution that stays on the accreditation hit list.
21. Your kids have burned through five babysitters, been kicked out of three restaurants and you’ve got a reserved seat at parent-teacher conferences, but you choose to remedy the situation with time-outs in the corner instead of digging in their tails.
22. You look baffled whenever the conversation about Black history veers from Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman or Langston Hughes.
Your Black card, as my friend Shana says, is the one card that can never be declined, denied or falsified. But it sure can be called into question.
What’s on your list?