On Dirty Laundry
I swear I’ll stop writing about Jalen Rose and The Fab Five after this week. I promise. I did, however, want to beat this dead horse one more good time take a moment to make a request of my (s)kinfolk.
What follows is a clip of ESPN’s Chris Broussard discussing the Jalen Rose/Grant Hill issue on First Take. What I’m mostly concerned with begins around minute 1:55.
Now, I have a lot of respect for Broussard. I think he’s a great NBA reporter. I follow him on Twitter and read his articles especially around the trade deadline and free agent season. However, this bit of commentary here made me stare at my computer with WTF-face. It was as if Broussard wanted to cram everything Baines taught Malcolm into one tv segment. That’s not my point–or my beef. What is, though, is very simply outlined below:
Dear Black People (especially those charged with explaining black people to the cable tv masses):
Can we retire the phrase “dirty laundry” from our vocabularies, like, now? Please?
No, seriously. Can this just, um, stop? Does the NAACP have a word/phrase burial application I can complete to make this happen?
Although he doesn’t explain exactly what he means, I think Broussard employs the phrase to describe the class tension inherent in the discussion about Rose and Hill. And, well, I think that’s kind of ridiculous. Broussard, however, isn’t the only one to do this. Anytime black folk start acting out in places where white folk can see, someone is bound to talk about “airing dirty laundry.” And that needs to stop.
- Black people’s laundry is no dirtier than anyone else’s. Don’t believe me? Watch an episode of Dateline. Or last season of Intervention.
- Making a claim that allows for discussion about certain tensions between black people at large is not the same as putting your business out on front street.
- To that last point, such discussions inevitably show that black people are not monolithic. Rather, it proves that black people look like Jalen Rose and Grant Hill and the Huxtables and the Evanses and everything in between. If such laundry is not aired, if you will, the prevailing, stereotypical images that Broussard finds so frustrating continue to monopolize public images of blackness. And the opinions about authentic blackness that Broussard focuses on are never disrupted.
- In my mind, “dirty laundry” is a euphemism for “making a fool of yourself/us in front of white people.” And that is rooted in this impulse to appear respectable–yes, that’s the word of the week again–in front of company, as if such excellent behavior would be rewarded with things like, I dunno, voting rights or a decent grocery store in the ‘hood. Frankly, how irrational is that? Black people disagreeing amongst each other or revealing that they don’t all think the same way or have the same experiences or even like each other is not a bad thing. Nor should such exercises be implicitly discouraged because it opens black people to judgment by some invisible jury whose power we should have stopped believing in long ago. Further, it makes no sense to me to suggest that class tension is some secret of blackness that should not be discussed in mixed company. It’s class tension, not the solution to next week’s Soul Train scramble board.
That is all.
Two more random things:
Shout out to VCU!
Other than the fact that his blonde hair means that I will be referring to him as Chrisqo, I have nothing to say about Chris Brown.