I recently started working for an African America publication and one of the first leads I received for a story was about African Americans who were picked to head historically white organizations. I immediately asked myself, is this newsworthy because black men were picked to hold positions traditionally held by white men or is this newsworthy because white people saw two highly qualified men and selected them to lead these organizations because they are the best men for the job. Either way I congratulate them on these achievements, and I am happy to cover the story. However, why when an African American is selected to head a majority white organization is it often given more kudos than if he or she were selected to head an organization of the same caliber that has traditionally been black? Are we still dealing with that age old saying that the white man’s ice is colder. That term is used in the African American community to metaphorically describe when African Americans prefer to get a product or service from someone who is white rather than other African Americans. For some reason, it is seen as better because it is possessed by whites, who were once regarded with higher esteem. Sadly, in many circles they still are even though the Constitution of the United States clearly reads that all men are created equal. Such behaviors spawned the creation of slogans like “Support Black Business” to remind people that if we want black businesses to thrive people of the same race, as well as those who aren’t, need to support them.
However, I refuse to support a business just because it is owned by an African American. I support businesses because they offer a quality product or service that I need and/or want at an affordable price. I enjoy good customer service. Often convenience and relationship plays a part as well. I have a great relationship with several African American businesses and support them regularly. People do business with people they like.
I really do want race relations to continue to improve, and I want society to get to the point where there are no more glass ceilings to be broken and there are no more African American “firsts” because there are no more barriers. I don’t want it to be seen as an African American person has “moved on up”, “made it” or become “mainstream” simply because white people with financial status and influence have noticed them and offered them a seat at their table. At the end of the day, for me it’s all about perception. The white man’s ice is not colder! Although, I will admit that sometimes it is served in a nicer glass, but there are plenty of African Americans who possess that same glass. That’s because they can afford a nicer glass and there is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is that too many African Americans have bought into the lies we were fed during slavery that told us that we were inferior and in order to get ahead we had to find favor with Mister, even if it meant forsaking our own kind. In my opinion, in this day and age it isn’t about finding favor with the white community. It’s about providing a product or service that African Americans, whites, Latino’s, Asians, etc. want. We must apply the simple economics law of supply and demand. It’s about doing something so well that people will recognize you for it no matter what color you are and offer you a seat at the table because you deserve it and they feel the table will be better with you at it. If you have that “it factor”and white people with money want to support you because they believe you are a good investment, then by all means accept the help. You earned it. Use that opportunity to better yourself, your family, your community and thrive. In time, you’ll be able to serve your ice in that nice glass too and you’ll see for yourself that the ice isn’t any colder.
People are people. An accomplishment is an accomplishment and it should be recognized no matter what color a person may be. If they happen to be African American let’s celebrate because it is another example to the realization of Dr. King’s dream: that individual was not judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character, the caliber of their intellect, and the extraordinary level of their skills. So, add another cube to the glass, let’s toast, and all celebrate TOGETHER. If we can’t celebrate together, I have no problem with us celebrating our own.
What do you think?
Jae Henderson is an author, blogger, voice over artist, speaker and founder of http://www.imagoodwoman.com. Learn more about her latest book, “Things Every Good Woman Should Know” at www.jaehendersonauthor.com.
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