I was reading and came across of book entitled Nigger Heaven.
Nigger Heaven is a 1926 novel written by Carl Van Vechten, a gay white man, set during the Harlem Renaissance in the United States in the 1920s. The book and its title have been controversial since its publication. It describes the interactions of intellectuals, political activists, bacchanalian workers, and other Harlem characters. The plot of the novel concerns two Black people, a quiet librarian and an aspiring writer, who try to keep their love alive as racism denies them every opportunity.
The phrase refers to the balcony in a theater or church, supposedly the closest a Black person would get to heaven.
I always wondered why we as a people aspired to be white or longed for everything white, even the language of white people. This is not to say that white people speak proper English and Black people do not. When I say Black people wanted to speak like white people it is more of the pitch, the intonations, the words, and the melodic sounds or lack thereof.
I found that white people have just as much terrible grammar as do Black people. This is true of all sectors along the economic ladder.
Some of the words that people misuse are possessive and reflexive pronouns.
I was in court one day and I heard a white attorney say opposing counsel showed the court and myself an exhibit. The rule is you have to pretend that you alone are the subject of the discussion. You would not say opposing counsel showed myself. You would say opposing counsel showed me an exhibit. Thus, it is proper to say opposing counsel showed the court and me an exhibit.
My sister speaks English properly; however, when she was younger she tried to sound like and be like her white classmates in the gifted school she attended. I remember as a child this sister, who purportedly is a very gifted person with an extremely high intelligence quotient, would stand for hours in the mirror mimicking phrases that white people use, words and phrases like “far out” and “up tight” and she would also fling her head in a feigned effort to cast her hair from her eyes while she spoke. Needless to say that despite the fact her hair was straightened, it had way too much body to move. We teased her and I would parrot her for fun.
Some people want to sound the way they think educated white people sound so they end up overdoing it, trying to sound too white, and then making mistakes in grammar and sounding just as ignorant as the white people who cannot speak English. Some sound like “Valley Girls” and everyone knows that Valley Girls speak with horrific English.
Why do Black people and other people of color make those mistakes in English?
It dates back before the Harlem Renaissance. It predates slavery along the Mississippi. Contrary to common belief, slavery in the Deep South was only a blip in time. Mississippi became a state in 1817… Alabama in 1819, Tennessee in 1796, Georgia in 1788, and Missouri in1821.
Of course, Georgia was first established as a penal colony and a debtor’s colony in the 1730s, a place where the British sent its exiles. However, at the time of the American revolution, in addition to the exiles there were approximately 18,000 African slaves in Georgia. After the American revolution the British sent their exiles to Australia.
Measure this in the backdrop of the year the United States claimed its independence from the British, 1776, and the time the Civil War ended in 1865. Many of the confederate states had only been in existence less than 50 years when the American Civil War broke out. That is only two, maybe three generations of slaves. You can imagine the frustration the white plantation owners felt when they realized they would not get a reasonable return on their slave investments in the south. After all, the northerners had profited for nearly two hundred years using slaves and slave labor.
Imagine how the Chinese feel when the United States pressures them to reduce their carbon footprint. They are probably complaining that the United States used carbon energy for over a hundred years to build a strong economy, but now they want China to curb theirs.
Therefore, most of our slave past in this country was not in the Deep South because those were still largely wilderness and occupied by Native Americans. Slavery was not legal in most southern states because there were no states in the Deep South in those days. The Louisiana Purchase did not occur until July 4, 1803. Most of our slavery roots in the New World was either in the north or in the Caribbean. So we do not have this long history of bad treatment in the south versus good treatment in the north. White folks treated us poorly in the north and the south. Before the south was established the colonists treated Black people in the worst way.
Our ancestors were not only servants and laborers; they were soldiers, manufacturers, and builders. More importantly, our ancestors were assets and other forms of property to be bought and sold like stocks and bonds. From the 1600s to about 1840 our ancestors were the primary source of wealth for the rich an upper middle class. White people measured their wealth by the number and quality of African slaves they controlled, or bought and sold.
Everyday was a struggle, not for equality, but to be recognized as a human being. Unfortunately, some of us still do not regard ourselves as humans or as good as white people so we imitate white people and tease Black people. I have even heard brother who claims to be Afro-centric saying words like… “[Y]ou know how we are?” That is usually said in the context of some substandard behavior we observe on the part of other Black people that we feel would embarrass us if white people observed it. Also, it implies white people do not engage in ignorant, criminal, selfish, and other poor behavior.
For whites it had to be just as absurd. These creatures that white people were convinced were just a half step away from being apes were now competing with whites for housing, political office, employment, sex, and overall happiness, which for white people is the pursuit of wealth. For rich white people, Blacks were tools that were now free. Slavery was not only the primary source of wealth for some whites, and a few Blacks; Black people were the assets for many. If they were not working Africans to death, they were buying, selling, renting, and or breeding Africans for slavery. They even had books on breeding and training slaves as they would dogs.
Some white people were Nigger Rich, not to be confused with the term used to describe wealthy Black people. If you were white and you were rich you owned many African slaves. When whites had to forfeit their wealth, they had to forfeit their slaves. When that happened, whites hated Black folks, and anyone affiliated with freeing them, so much that they organized the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to put Black people back in their places. Many Blacks were forced to work as sharecroppers, and had to pay rent to whites which erased most of the profit they would have received from working. In other instances, Blacks were forced to buy supplies from white vendors who overcharged them.
The Klan was not just a fraction of the population. At one time, around the 1920s most white people in the United States were either in the Klan or had strong connections to somebody in the Klan. To be anybody, or to win a political office, white people had to have connections in the Klan. Any white person who resisted might receive a visit from the Klan and be persuaded to go along with the program or face the consequences. The average white person was too intimidated to stand up to the Klan.
The first March on Washington was orchestrated by the Klan. That is where Black people got the notion to have a March on Washington.
At one time, Burton Becker, the Alameda County Sheriff, in California, was a Wizard, Cyclops, or a Dragon, or some other ridiculous title the Klan bestowed upon him. In the 1920s, he along with other powerful Klansmen controlled much of Alameda County, and the nation. The Alameda County District Attorney, Earl Warren, who later became a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, prosecuted him for shaking down bootleggers during prohibition. For an interesting discussion on the Klan’s influence in the United States read “No There There,” by Chris Rhomberg.
For survival, sometimes it meant Blacks had to hate Blacks and even sell out other Blacks to the Klan.
Why did Black folks hate Black folks? The answer is simple. Black people remind them of that which they try so desperately want to forget, that is they are Black too. No matter how much skin lightener they buy, permanents or relaxers they apply, or how they vary their speech, they feel they are still just a notch away from being monkeys in the minds of racists, and to some degree their own minds.
That is why instead of reinvesting in their old neighborhoods, many move away from the inner cities only to find that they are surrounded by people who look like them in distant suburbs. Meanwhile “yuppies” buy the properties Black people allow to run down at a fraction of the value and gentrify the areas. Ultimately, the whites again own the best land that is closer to city hubs and they walk to work and / or pay less on transportation. Over time, the suburbs begin to look run down and the crime rates increase, leaving Blacks farther away from the major cities in ghetto or run down areas similar to the ones they so desperately fought to escape. However, this time they are also paying more money in the form of home association dues.
Unfortunately, many sisters have it worse than the brothers. They not only buy hair straighteners, they also buy hair extensions that do not logically or textually resemble their own. They justify it by calling it a fashion. If it is just a fashion or a style, when is fashion going to swing the other way? It is expensive to hate yourself. When we stop hating ourselves, we will save a lot more money.
Supreme court justice Clarence Thomas describes his hatred of Black people in his book. He talks about being teased for being dark and for having other characteristics of Blacks. He talks about how other Black people were jealous of him because he dared to be different, and therefore, more like white people inside.
Even though that is not true some of us still fear they will be viewed as a savage or less than human. We do not want to be viewed as being too “niggerish” or too “ghetto” acting. We want to be viewed as having class. Being Renaissance, or boule, is proof of our sophistication or how close we are to white people who we mistakenly believe have class.
We want to be recognized for being sharp dressers, having expensive items, driving expensive cars, being light skinned, frequenting places where white people traditionally go, like the wine country, and having white friends. We want white people to recognize us as a credit to our race. We want that pat on the back from the slave master’s descendants. Yes. Most importantly we want to be in “Nigger Heaven.” Only white people can get to just plain old’ heaven. In the minds of some, Nigger Heaven is that place Black people can travel who are almost as “good” as white people.
Unfortunately, some of us believe those things. Even some white people believe that nonsense. Some white people will befriend you so long as you do not compete with them for a spot in white man’s heaven or for a spot here in heaven on earth.
That book, Nigger Heaven, written by a White man validates Blacks as being human because a white man wrote it about Black people, not about subhumans. Not only does it describe Black culture, the author draws distinctions amongst Black people to set some apart from the low life Black people.
Every person and every thing that was important was white. Jesus was white. Even God was white, and was depicted with blue eyes and blond hair.
As a consequence, Black folks went over the top to prove not only were they human, but non-threatening. It was taboo for Blacks to read, to be smart, or to be educated because there were so many whites that were not. It was taboo for Blacks to be rich because there were so many whites that were not. It was even taboo for a Black man to be a sex symbol for women or to be masculine because there were so many white men who were not. Black men had to avoid being any thing and everything that represented strength.
I hope homosexuals do not read too much into this, but that is why black gay men are overrepresented in television and or on speaking panels. At least one of every two Black male figures the media props up is gay. They are non-threatening. They certainly are not going to want to have sex with your wife.
The white men will hire a Black woman before a Black man when the job is sex neutral. White men will also hire a gay Black man over a heterosexual Black man.
So these white protestants had to live in a fantasy, a fantasy that tells them that no matter how bad life is, they are still white and they will still be loved and still get the job or be hired over a Black person. That is why oftentimes Black people train newly hired white people who ultimately end up being their bosses.
Unfortunately, for many Black people they have to live in a fantasy too. In our fantasy, we are accepted by whites as friends, maybe even faithful sidekicks.
When white people elected Barack Obama, many Blacks saw this as a sign that we may finally be accepted as equal to whites. No matter how many accomplishments we achieve we may achieve only equality with whites. Even with a President who is half Black, we may never be greater than whites and we may never excel to a place higher than Nigger Heaven, as described in the novel.
© Copyright 2014 admin, All rights Reserved. Written For: Earth Colony