The MacLamity

The News That Stays News, Reported Live

Monday, October 03, 2005

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As far as I can tell, it seems to surprise Americans that most blacks outside America behave differently from blacks in America. The surprise is generally in the form of benign mirth, like William Jennings Bryant’s bemusement listening to Haitian ministers speak French. Similarly the Caribbean love of cricket seemed to bemuse my American friends: They can’t really like it, surely. British colonialism probably forced them away from basketball. In referring to a black person from outside America, one sometimes mental gears grinding when the term African-American doesn’t apply, as when someone said to me in the late 1990s, “That’s the first time I’ve heard an African-American speak with an English accent.” This New York Times article seems to be based entirely on the same impulse. Am I reading too much between the lines, when I detect a deep sense that rap is equated with American blackness and that American blackness is then made into a universal blackness -- a Sudanese rapper’s dissimilarity with 50 Cent is treated as an amusing paradox: ‘[U]nlike "Get Rich or Die Tryin,' " the forthcoming film about the hard-knock adventures of the Queens rapper 50 Cent, a film about Mr. Jal could portray an altruistic and deeply religious artist who works with organizations like Amnesty International and War Child International.”