Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Big Black Guy

This post was originally published on my other blog, Jazz Guns Apple Pie.

Every now and then someone will be telling me a story, when suddenly, it sounds like nails on a chalkboard. With emphasis on how imposing a person they encountered was, they say, "And then there was this big black guy."

"Big and black??" I'll say if I'm feeling cheeky. "Oh no."

The story usually falls apart from there.

This isn't to say that there aren't imposing and intimidating black men, as there are imposing and intimidating men of every race. Some rappers purposely strike an intimidating pose to show how tough and strong they are. That intimidation, though, also has to do with perception.

In a New York Times piece about white female rappers, Touré writes:
For many Americans, black male rappers are entrancing because they give off a sense of black masculine power — that sense of strength, ego and menace that derives from being part of the street — or because of the seductive display of black male cool.
In that passage, he writes as much about rappers as the public's view of them: Menacing. Seductive.

Dangerous!

The same is true for the person who tells the story with "the big black guy." That description, though, can say more about the storyteller than the person in the story.