Ah, yes. If you’re of black ethnicity and not snorting cocaine, speaking in ‘broken’ English or basically fulfilling the stereotypical life set out for black people, you’ve almost most definitely heard this term; whether in this exact sentence, or more subtly, like, “you’re different from the others”. However, no matter how much paraphrasing is done, it still means the same thing, “All people from your race are hopeless; you’re just the good one from all of them”. It’s like a good apple in the midst of several rotten apples.
Now, based on how I described this, you’re probably thinking “that should be a good thing, right? it’s basically a compliment”. I’m pretty positive that about 60% of people who say this to black people do not mean for it to be backhanded or condescending. However, it’s completely insulting, and I’m here to fill you in on why, and how to stop it. This might be long and confusing at some parts, so keep following.
This otherwise harmless term could be traced back to the colonial and slavery age. Now, if I describe this age from beginning to end, we would straight up be in a history lesson, and that wouldn’t be so inviting. However, its imperative that you understand how important it is to educate yourself on the colonial and slavery age, because nobody likes having conversations with an ignorant person. The information is out there for you to research, though these are my favourite videos pertaining to these subjects. But remember, these merely scratch the surface, and anything that needs clarification can be researched, or you can ask me if it makes you more comfortable.
Now we can really begin. How could such a subtle, mellow term be linked to some of the darkest days of black history? could that be a little bit of a reach? maybe. But quite frankly, as I post more, you’ll soon realise that I have mastered the art of executing very cogent reaches.
In British colonial times, there were white missionaries who were stationed in different parts of Africa, specifically west Africa, like Nigeria. They were preaching the word of God and converting West Africans from their traditional religion to Christianity. After major conversion was done in colossal countries like Nigeria, with most of Yoruba land already converted, individuals that insisted on continuing to practice their traditional religion were referred to as “heathens” and were basically dragged to the bottom of their own society by random white men and women dictating whats right and wrong. West Africans that had “accepted Christ” were more likely to get higher paying jobs, live in more affluent areas e.t.c. than the west Africans that refused to give up their traditional religion. The converted west Africans were seen as more trust-worthy among their peers, while traditionalists were more likely to be exiled from society without question.
So basically, an old-fashioned “you’re not like the others, so we trust you loads!”. It is still the case today; though most of Africa now comprises of Christians and Muslims, there is still a small percentage of traditionalists that are either old and wilting or completely kicked to the curb in terms of where they are in society. White people went into an area and dictated the people who could be trusted, and those who couldn’t, similar to the “you’re not like other black people” idea.
Crazy, right? immensely crazy how a group of people can invade an area and completely morph it into what it is today.
Anyway, let’s get into the slavery aspect of things. were going all the way back. Before British colonialism. Sit tight.
When slavery started in the early 1600s, able-bodied Africans were taken from the comfort of their own homes and people to work in America by force, and for free. Some white men owned plantations, and had a fleet of “Negros” that worked in their plantation long hours, giving them incredible profit because of course, their pay was very minuscule if at all. Most of the time, their only “pay” was a meal. On the other hand, you had middle class (and above) white families who bought slaves to do things around the house like clean, cook, or take care of their children. In extreme cases, some slaves had their tongues cut off and their mouths padlocked to prevent them from talking. But the two worst aspects of all this, particularly pertaining to the topic, was the fact that there were people back in Africa benefiting from this slave trade, and black people in America that lived comfortably while seeing all this firsthand.
White people didn’t just storm into Africa and start nicking people from their huts. They bribed the leaders of tribes with basic commodities like mirrors and gun powder; traded those things for their most able-bodied men, women, and even children if they were fit enough. They were marched to sea ports where they would sail from Africa to America. Sometimes, slaves would die on the way and have their bodies tossed into the river. Even the ones with sicknesses were tossed to prevent contamination.
Now, why would these chiefs exchange their best men for things they didn’t even know about? things they weren’t even completely sure how to use? it’s all part of the “you’re not like other black people” statement. Chiefs wanted these things to seem more powerful than their people; more endowed, so their people saw them as true superiors to them; different from them. They didn’t want to be trusted, they wanted to be worshiped and adored, just like the white people were when they first landed in Africa, being referred to as “supernatural” or “all-knowing” based on their extremely white skin compared to theirs. They were closer to what the white people had, which made them different than other Africans; better.
Now that we’ve talked about that, we can talk about the free blacks in America that literally owned slaves. Yes. They OWNED slaves. People that knew the plight of slaves in America owned them, and treated them the exact same way they were treated by the white people. They were the “luckier” group of blacks in America, and instead of using their power to fight against slavery, they bought into slavery; helped it grow.
In that age, most free black people couldn’t even afford slaves, due to the fact that they couldn’t even get a job, or a reputable one, based on the hue of their skin. But the ones that could afford them bought into it. Why, you ask? look back at the topic of this post. Their ownership of slaves meant that they were closer to the way white people lived, what they did. Their ownership of slaves meant like they weren’t like other black people; they were more similar to the white people.
Now, since we briefly touched how British colonisation in Africa affects Africans in Africa now, lets now touch on how slavery has affected the African-Americans, and essentially, Africans all over the globe.
Now, more than 200 years later, we have African-Americans, the Africans that refused to go back to Africa, mostly because they forgot their actual homes, or didn’t even really know it. They are still denied a proper seat at the table, despite the abolition of slavery and blatant racism in public areas. They make about 12.5 percent of the American population as of 2016, and shape some of American culture today, from music to dance. Now, in america, the “hood” or the “ghetto” is made up of mostly people of colour, including black people. Now why is that? The simple reason is this: though slavery and blatant racism ended, the perception of black people still remains; stupid, incompetent and more. That is why it is so hard for black people, moreover, fully black people with no mixed ethnicity, to get corporal, legitimate jobs. And yes, I am aware of the laziness in our ethnicity, but there is laziness in every ethnicity; even the white people (shocking!). The ones among us that weren’t born with everything and are struggling to make something out of their lives struggle more than they should have to. This is why blacks born into the “ghetto” find it hard to get out, and usually result to illegitimate jobs like drug trafficking, stealing, fraud e.t.c. to just keep their head on top of water. Most women in the hood end up getting pregnant for a man who is either shot, taken into custody or essentially just cannot take care of a baby. Do these sound familiar to you? Ah, yes! Black stereotypes that make the “other” black people so scorned. Not really easy to thrive in a country that was not created for you to be on top of anything really. Now, how does this affect the Africans in other parts of the world, you ask? simple. America’s impact. Whatever transpires in America reaches headlines. So, whatever blacks are doing in America could slightly affect the way other countries feel about black people, and could dictate how they are then treated and addressed. This then makes it harder for less fortunate blacks to thrive in these countries, having to resort to the same things that the less fortunate African Americans do. The cycle continues. That is why I say this to a lot of people; the day that the president of America will be a dark skin hood black man with gold in his teeth, and not a light skin biracial man who went to Harvard and excelled in flying colours (the ‘different’ black person), the “ghetto” black people in other countries would be treated with a lot more respect (Do not get me wrong, I love Obama and all he did in office. He was a landmark in a lot of black people’s lives).
You’re probably thinking “What about the fortunate black people?” and this is exactly where I am going. The middle and above class of black people are what people would refer to as the ‘different’ black people. The black people who aren’t ‘stupid’, ‘incompetent’ and ‘useless’, and have made waves for themselves, ultimately making them better than their “ghetto” counterparts. Now, while it is mandatory that we break out of bad or damaging stereotypes whenever we can, it is important that these types of Black people know that the black people who tried and couldn’t, have been chained to where they are by circumstances. Now these are the people that the whites want to be associated with. The ones that, most of the time, were born into the destiny they have now, were in a place where their struggle was less, or, through toil, have managed to get to where they wanted. However, I am not dismissing the efforts made by these people(mostly because I am a part of that group), because though maybe born into “Affluent” or “suburban” homes, they still have to struggle to get to where they need to be in life. Some of these people were once “less fortunate”. Though, most of the time, their struggle was mainly to utilise their materials, and not struggling to stay alive or legitimate. However, these are the people who are constantly told “You’re not like other black people” by white people. Why? the fact that they are “educated”, “classy” or with a “better accent”, makes them closer to the white people, based on stereotypes. The ancestors of white people created this stereotype for less fortunate black people; created this struggle. They brainwashed the blacks for a long time to think that the white way is the right way, and they have to be closer to white people(stereotypical white people) to excel.
And that is the root of the “You’re not like other black people” statement.
So, white people, next time you want to say this to a black person who has managed to get to where you are by bigger, greater struggles, talk more about how good they are doing instead; how important they are. Just stop it.
What did you think about this? Any burning questions? Leave a comment down below! Thank you for reading!