Friday, May 20, 2005

“To Be” or “Happens to be…” ?

"If someone said he was the best African-American CEO, he would be miserable. He wants to be the best CEO."
—Geoffrey Canada, on college friend
and American Express CEO Ken Chenault USA Today, April 25, 2005

When I first read that quote I was happy for Mr. Chenault, proud even. I’ve been a big fan of execs like Ken Chenault, Stanley O’Neal (CEO Merrell Lynch) Dick Parsons (CEO AOL), etc. It’s still important for young blacks to see people of color to climbing the corporate ladder and setting their sights as high as possible. But the more I thought about it, something bothered me about that quote; I had to reread it and the article a few times before I figured out exactly what it was.There’s something kinda creepy about the idea that simply pointing out or highlighting a person’s ethnicity is somehow an insult. I mean, ‘What’s wrong with being the best “African-American CEO”? What’s wrong with being the best Black CEO’? What’s wrong with being the best ‘black athlete’ or ‘black’ [insert occupation/achievement]? It’s as if being an African-American is somehow less American and being an African American CEO is somehow less than a CEO. Why do we have to strive to be greater than what we are, unless of course, what we are somehow makes us inherently inferior?

To be fair, I don’t know Ken Chenault or anyone who’s ever met him. But I’m pretty sure that no matter how hard Chenault tries to be the “best CEO” there will be people—plenty of people—who will only see him as a black CEO or a Black man. And some of those people will equate that with being ‘less than,’ others will see Chenault’s ethnicity as a source of pride and achievement and progress, and others still won’t care to judge him on his skin color or assign a value to it one way or the other. Either way, I’d be surprised if anyone is truly “blind” to it.

Personally, I’ve always found the basic idea of “colorblindness" to be amusing. The notion that you simply “can’t see” or “don’t notice” something as obvious as someone’s skin color or race or ethnicity is a little ridiculous. Last I checked, only dogs were colorblind and I’d like to think we’re smarter than dogs. Aren’t we? Then again, I was one of the few blacks at my college and for a good portion of my adult life has been spent in the corporate world. In both instances, people swore they didn't care what I was, yet somehow the slurs, ignorance assumptions, stereotypes, etc. persisted at the expense of anyone darker than a suntan. And whenever I or others challenged folks to act and behanve as enlightened and as inclusive as they said they were, we were usually told to shut up, stop being so sensitve or "get over it."

As a corporate cat, i've spent years trying not to be “the black copywriter” or “the African-American copywriter.” Yet despite my accomplishments, I’ve always been “the black copywriter: in the eyes of most of my white colleagues. I know this because way too many of them have used jokes, slurs, stupid questions or smartass comments to remind of the fact.But now, at my advancing age, I’m actually starting to enjoy it. I’m a black copywriter, a black author and a black man. And I like that. My skin color and ethnicity doesn’t make me better than anyone else or inferior or more entitled to anything. It’s just one of the many traits that makes me human.

And in no way shape or form do I “happen to be” anything; I just am.

Can't we all just be what we are?

31 Comments:

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Julia Mallory said...

It's so ironic how society has used our Black race to brand us negatively. Most minorities experience similar situations. But as a Black Female I can personally speak to the negative impact it has, not only to those who are branded as the black so-and-so, but as well as to those who spend their energy denouncing that they just happen to be black. This very comment is ironic in nature because now we attribute our existence as one of pure coincidence. Black people spend more energy denouncing or making claims against things that aren't even worth the trouble. Society to needs to grapple with their inferior complex and when we proclaim-all black and maybe proud that we just happen to be black we play right in to this notion that Blacks are inferior.

 
At 1:15 AM, Blogger Julian Silvain said...

I skim a lot of blogs, and so far yours is in the Top 3 of my list of favorites. I'm going to dive in and try my hand at it, so wish me luck.

It'll be in a totally different area than yours (mine is about mens male enhancement reviews) I know, it sounds strange, but it's like anything, once you learn more about it, it's pretty cool. It's mostly about mens male enhancement reviews related articles and subjects.

 
At 8:48 PM, Blogger Drunk Glory Hole said...

adult swingers

 
At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Help! I am lost. I was searching for free online darts game and somehow ended up here. How that happened I don't know, however I do like your Blog a lot. Would you mind if I add your Blog to my favorites page so others can visit?

 
At 5:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

good resource here. I would also link to remove adware component

 
At 6:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great site and i would highly recommend compare online pharmacy . You can get more information on compare online pharmacy at compare online pharmacy

 
At 7:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Learn how to quickly create an RSS feeds with our RSS feeder, for high link popularity and ultimately better search engine rankings.

 
At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Came here good site.

I own an atlanta adult personals site check it out if you fancy dating

atlanta adult personals

 
At 2:29 PM, Blogger Preschool E.C.E said...

Wanted to say -I enjoyed your Blog! I found you had alot of interesting comments here and information regarding billy the kid
I have a website **Preschool Learning Online.com** Hopefully If you get a minute or 2 you will pop by and Check It Out! There is alot of great Free Information for Parents and Kids related to billy the kid and similar bits of information.

Thanks,

 
At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey nice info you posted.
I just browsing through some blogs and came across yours!

Excellent blog, good to see someone actually uses em for quality posts.

Your site kept me on for a few minutes unlike the rest :)

Keep up the good work!

Thanks!Adult Personals

 
At 10:47 AM, Blogger Brian said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a internet advertising site/blog. It pretty much covers internet advertising related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

 
At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Click here if your LOOKING for "No Charge Online Advertising Channels For Any Business"

 
At 4:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you like dog harness you may very well like this site dog harness

 
At 4:35 AM, Blogger Infactahost.com said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a internet banner advertising site/blog. It pretty much covers internet banner advertising related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

 
At 3:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think that will drive you some extra traffic?

 
At 10:44 AM, Blogger Girly Girl said...

If you want over 18 adults only dating then Swinger Dating is the site for you. Totally free too :)

 
At 8:25 PM, Blogger Infactahost.com said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a internet banner traffic exchange site/blog. It pretty much covers internet banner traffic exchange related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

 
At 2:35 AM, Blogger martyn said...

Hi there, I was searching for information on the recent task force findings but seemed unsure of the status of HHS and DEA regulations addressing the very issues that they were reviewing, if you can shed any light on this please post at my blog. I see how I found your blog when I was searching for online discount pharmacy and online discount pharmacy related information, please remember to post at my blog if you feel you can add. Thanks for the read
Kind regards
Martin

 
At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife and I enjoy swinger couples. We decided to put together a site to help others who are interested in swinger couples. We hope you will check out our web site swinger couples Look for us. Our nick is "sdray69". CYA there!

 
At 5:02 AM, Anonymous Money said...

Hello,

I just visited your site for the first time and felt compelled to contact you and congratulate you on your handiwork! Great site & fantastic theme! Please add further information.

Regards,
cleaner spyware

 
At 7:31 AM, Anonymous Money said...

Hi blogger:)

I had a very good time reading this blog. It is well written and very up to date. Thanks.

Regards,
spyware cleaner

 
At 12:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife and I enjoy swinger sites. We decided to put together a site to help others who are interested in swinger sites. We hope you will check out our web site swinger sites Look for us. Our nick is "sdray69". CYA there!

 
At 12:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife and I enjoy swinger pictures. We decided to put together a site to help others who are interested in swinger pictures. We hope you will check out our web site swinger pictures Look for us. Our nick is "sdray69". CYA there!

 
At 6:38 AM, Blogger NewsBlogger said...

Hi, I am Hajpaj, and like to contact you!

By my SEARCHING out FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION about cheap online pharmacy I have found your site.
Of course, I was looking out for cheap online pharmacy related information and I have found your “To Be” or “Happens to be…” ?. Sorry, I have seen that isn't a perfect match. But, anyway, I am glad I have stopped by even though this isn’t a perfect match. What you have in your content is very interesting for most people.
I like to set up a link to you. What you think about?
It does will be a pleasure, if you contact me. Perhaps we have some same ideas. Wish you success with your site.

Fritz

 
At 9:09 PM, Anonymous online marketing home based business said...

Hi there Blogger, a real useful blog.Keep with the good work.
If you have a moment, please visit my online marketing home based business site.
I send you warm regards and wishes of continued success.

 
At 10:00 PM, Blogger CQNVXGJG said...

Great blog, keep up the good work. If you get a chance check out my site.adware spyware remover

 
At 6:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it weird for girls to look at porn? I'm a 18-year-old girl. I often look at porn on the computer at home. Is there anything wrong with that? My friends don't talk about stuff like that, but I know guys do. I like this site adult friend finder com

 
At 12:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watiti.com
Join me and my circle of friends at http://www.watiti.com, an online social networking community that connects people from all over the world.

Meet new people, share photos, create or attend events, post free classifieds, send free e-cards, listen music, read blogs, upload videos, be part of a club, chat rooms, forum and much more!

See you around! Bring all your friends too!

Watiti.com

 
At 10:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watiti.com adult dating
Join me and my circle of friends at http://www.watiti.com, an online social networking community that connects people from all over the world.

Meet new people, share photos, create or attend events, post free classifieds, send free e-cards, listen music, read blogs, upload videos, be part of a club, chat rooms, forum and much more!

See you around! Bring all your friends too!

Watiti.com adult dating

 
At 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watiti.com
Join me and my circle of friends at http://www.watiti.com, an online social networking community that connects people from all over the world.

Meet new people, share photos, create or attend events, post free classifieds, send free e-cards, listen music, read blogs, upload videos, be part of a club, chat rooms, forum and much more!

See you around! Bring all your friends too!

Watiti.com

 
At 3:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

 

Post a Comment

<< Home