Am I a ‘house nigger’?

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It’s no secret that I have a bit of a wild side. I’m like a walking Lana Del Rey song on Friday nights; the only things I’m missing are a lover as old as my father, a heroin needle in my sock drawer, and traces of cocaine on my one hundred dollar bills.

On Friday nights, I walk out of my house in the illustrious Fox Hall drenched in red lipstick; or rather a more fashionable matte plumb lipstick, and an all black mini dress. I go out to parties and bars. I drink fancy cocktails I didn’t have to pay for and schmooze with America’s elite. I wear $1,500 bags and shoes. Weekend bus trips to the mountains to party with IFC fraternity boys were not something I thought to be particularly out of the ordinary in my life. Hell, I once threw up in the back of a finals club at Harvard when I was a teenager. If that doesn’t scream privilege, I don’t know what does.

I can only have a wild side because I have privileges that extend beyond my wildest imagination. Upon birth, I was given a popular 90s name. I went to a private prep school for my entire primary education and now I attend one of the most prestigious and selective universities in the world. I can recite Shakespeare. I was groomed to be proper; to speak structurally accurate English and to eloquently and strategically use my voice.

To top it off, I’m advantageously beautiful—not in the traditional Eurocentric sense—but in a way that makes it easy for people to relate to me. I have big, dark brown Bambi eyes, little pink tinted lips, perfect teeth, and a non-threatening nose.

That’s all right and dandy; but power structures—I’ve been thinking a lot about power structures.

Am I the white man’s fantasy? Am I… a fucking house nigger?

I can’t help but notice how people who are otherwise completely dismissive of blacks, will reference me as a sort of salvation for my whole race—MY WHOLE FUCKING RACE. For God’s sake, I’m one human.

I can party with the “bougie”. I can keep conversation at a polite level of interesting and provocative. I can blend into a room. I can tell a good joke. I can fuck without getting pregnant.

Is my very presence hurting the perception of black stereotypes by way of rigid juxtaposition? God, this is not what I intended. I love my culture; Am I brainwashed?

But, then again, we as black people are not secular. We are as dynamic as any other person is allowed to be. Perhaps, I am changing the perception of the limitations of black culture.

Can a house nigger change the perception the master has of the potential, ability, value, and preciousness of all the niggers? Does my wild side invalidate me as a credible source to the master? Am I a joke or am I changing the world with my unapologetic freedom?

This is going to eat me alive, isn’t it?

the little princess herself
the little princess herself

4 thoughts on “Am I a ‘house nigger’?

  1. Hey Ashley, I am a friend of yours from high school. I recently wrote something similar reflecting on my privilege. Although black privilege connotes a range of different impressions, I would argue that most individuals see privilege beyond just the colors of our skin. If you would like to read my spin on it, please forge ahead:

    Dear reader, if you forged ahead and read through all of my irate dickheadishness, I truly thank you for being a trooper. The asshole in me, who Archerizes all missions and snatches at the chance to obtain power over others by oscillating rapidly between two different poles of his personality is definitely a maddening sight to see. For now, my bender arrives at the end, completed by a dark, bolded full stop.

    However, if you would like to hear a tale much less adrenal, much less coarse, please listen in.

    I relinquish my commanding tone, softened by the senses of Eve, the woman who birthed all of civilization when she breathed into me pure life. The rushed vicissitudes of the intensity of lights and darks, I hope to put under a deep slumber. On occasion the voice of Eve is so far, hard to make out, but when I really listen in, I found that she has never left me. Her watchful warmth has followed me always.

    My whole life I’ve been suckling from the green tit, pouring into my mouth abundant nourishment. The cash flows into my mouth, swirls into my body and slowly my skin and my hair itself glimmer with tints of self-righteous greens.

    I feel radiant, truly alive, and replete. My green pigments shine brightly in the light and catch the eyes of many passing strangers. These strangers walk right on by me, skin black as night, eyes dark and knowing, their gaze pierces my very thoughts, stirring me ajar. The thrills of my green aura snatches impressions interlaced with envy and slight distaste.

    Of course, they too desire the glimmering sheen of green in the hair, they too desire the arrogance, the emblazoned power of green that trickles out of every demeanor, out of every swing of the step, every unconscious motion. The power of green is tantalizing, obliterating mountain ranges, driving ships called Privacy, and other exotic vessels, rotating the world on its axis. The green is freedom, it is abounding freedom from the shackles and chains gripping us to the material. Without the light of guiding green, my strange shadowy friends eyes glare with the fiery power of darkness. A fire that smolders so blackingly, it has commandment in itself over all the green pipelines in the world.

    I fumble with all things green, holding my green papers, my green documents, my green boarding cards, my green passes. In my ashamedness and reticence, the gaze of those dark strangers falls upon me and my mouth trembles at the nozzle of the pipeline hooked into my mouth. I wish so intensely to avert their gaze, the piercing judgment as they watch me consume, and so I dislodge the pipeline from my mouth.

    I unhook all the lines of green from me frantically. I want to rub my skin with the pigments of black to conceal the glimmering green sheen in my core. Now with no pipes, no nozzles, and no hook ups, I breathe in a sigh filled with relief and direction. But I’ve known the green tit for far too long, and I cannot survive. I squirm and wriggle in the agony of my withdrawals, clawing at my face with childishly confused vigor.

    Gradually the squeamish sensations of responsibility subside. All the fruits of society’s labor, the labor of the dark strangers, which I have been so airily munching on all of a sudden taste sour and rotten. Now the tree bearing all these fruits, I must avoid, and all these nozzles and pipelines I want to relinquish. But how so?

    If I were to just pass on the pipeline, hook him up to all my tubing, toss it straight into the hands of the dark stranger, and run away, he would never accept. He could never accept. It was my pipeline, one that traced its way back through my genealogy. The pride in his black heart can drive him to steal, to rebel, to entertain thoughts of intrusion. He feels the thrills like me, he has the same rush to blow away all order and ascend to a rightful throne. When I try to pass the pipeline to him for a moment, he will take a modest sip and nod his head with gratitude. But in another moment, when my attention is diverted, he may plot the finesse and commandeer the pipeline for the hot-headed, devilishly driven moment. Then, like a ghost, he disappears into the background, leaving only a chaotic, yet hard to trace, trail of ravage.

    The dark stranger, like me, has the capacity to temper down, to eventually learn to accept the very different burdens shouldered by the dark, just as I learn to file away the burdens of the green. My burdens of green are something in the comparison to the deep shades of black. But with the green, I can never truly be broken, I can eventually be tempered into a softness that finds a place to live. But as I sink my roots into the safety of this earth, I will never forget the pang of the dark strangers who either smolder away in a blast of adrenaline or blunt their souls into nothingness with a bottle of Xanax.

    Like

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