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The Unbearable Whiteness of Grifting.

Between this IG scammer and her empty mason jars, the Theranos lady with the crispy ends, punchface Fyre douche, and the Russian lady living for free in fancy hotels, my spirit is just completely done with unqualified white people fumbling the bag due to LAZINESS. Any one of them could’ve been sitting on bags of money handed to them by dint of being white and slick-mouthed had they not overshot into mind-boggling greed and followed it up with enraging ineptitude.

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Between this IG scammer and her empty mason jars, the Theranos lady with the crispy ends, punchface Fyre douche, and the Russian lady living for free in fancy hotels, my spirit is just completely done with unqualified white people fumbling the bag due to LAZINESS. Any one of them could’ve been sitting on bags of money handed to them by dint of being white and slick-mouthed had they not overshot into mind-boggling greed and followed it up with enraging ineptitude.

If you are a white woman, a journalist, a New Yorker, bored and on the Internet too much, or a combination of the aforementioned, there’s a fair chance you’ve seen the name Caroline Calloway pop up somewhere over the past week.

Something instinctively told me to leave that mess alone because I saw enough warning signs to know that Rich White Girl Goes Through Troubles Of Her Own Making was a ministry I was not prepared to receive. And then last night, I did it. I took a peek into the rabbit hole and went headfirst into the latest edition of Squandering White Privilege.

The long version is best told in these three articles, all of which I read straight through in a row at 2 in the morning while I was stressing out about being unemployed and paying bills. If you have the time and the fortitude, I recommend this order:

First: “The Case of Caroline Calloway and her Creativity Workshop Tour”
Here we see a rich white girl with no qualifications other than a popular Instagram putting together a nationwide tour in less than a month that inevitably falls apart a la Fyre Festival because neither she nor anyone else knows what needs to be done logistically. White girls across the country ponied up $165 each for the privilege of learning how to be yourself from a woman who was faking it. And there was supposed to be salad and orchid crowns.

Second: “The Story of Caroline Calloway and her Ghostwriter Natalie”
The ghostwriter herself wrote it. Caroline’s friend Natalie was so good at writing Caroline’s Instagram captions that she (Caroline, not the friend) landed a 6-figure book deal. In terms of writing, it’s one of my favorite first person narratives of the year. In terms of subject, both of these white girls are maddeningly ridiculous. It’s wild read, from a budding friendship at NYU to multiple near misses with sexual assault wandering around at night in a foreign country.

Third: “Who is Caroline Calloway”
Vox hits the highlights. If you want to know broad strokes and can’t sit through the details, Vox is it.

If you want to know the broadest strokes: Caroline Calloway is a rich white girl. Her dad is a retired lawyer, her mom is a retired data scientist, and her grandparents were real estate tycoons who owned most of Sarasota or something. (x) She took glamorous pictures of her life, her best friend wrote lonnnnng captions, and they became so popular she got a $500,000 book deal to write her memoirs. She couldn’t finish the book, scammed her followers out of $165 a piece to “workshop” with her for four hours, and now certain corners of the internet are obsessed with how a talentless nobody could swan dive into half a million dollars and a massive following.

IT’S BECAUSE SHE’S WHITE AND RICH.

How many times have we seen this? White person from a privileged background tries to leverage that privilege into even more money. They have no skills other than salesmanship, so they sell something that doesn’t exist. When people finally want to receive what they paid for, the emperor is found to be stark naked.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

At this point in my life, I’m almost numb to watching unqualified white people fail upward to ever loftier heights of success and riches. Knowing Caroline Calloway got a book deal for memoirs she wasn’t writing doesn’t even make me blink twice. But y’all. Y’all!! All she had to do was let her friend finish writing the book! Sit still and tell a few stories, either true or fictionalized, let the girl who had been writing your Instagram finish writing the book, and both of y’all collect that bag. She couldn’t even be bothered to do THAT.

If someone was trying to pay me half a million dollars to let someone else write a book about my life, you couldn’t shut me up. What do you need, Sis? You want me to tell you about the bully who called me a faggot in second grade so I ran home to write mean haikus about him in my Trapper Keeper? You wanna know about how two of my friends and I set the carpet on fire in the guidance counselor’s office when we were supposed to be taking the flag down and folding it? Wanna know how I almost got expelled from school senior year because I wrote a blog about how a clarinet player and I drank the alcohol in a host family’s cabinet, replaced it with water, and showed up to rehearsal the next day mad hungover on an orchestra trip? I got stories on stories on stories. How much time you got. How much length we going for.

$500,000?! Couldn’t be bothered. She just let the deadlines pass and then cried about it when the publisher wanted their advance money back.

This country is founded upon an implicit trust in white people, and the economic success of this country in combination with a hypocritically bastardized Christian worldview of prosperity has led to a large proportion of the population that believes wealth is a byproduct of morality. If you’re rich, you deserve it. If you’re poor, you deserve it. We give more worth to the words of rich people because they matter more, and we give more benefit of the doubt to white people because we trust them to pull through and succeed. We are a country that is the perfect breeding ground for Caroline Calloway or Elizabeth Holmes or Anna Delvey or Billy McFarland.

We’re a country that put a businessman with multiple bankruptcies in the White House just because he said he was rich and had the flashy trappings of wealth. As long as there are rich white people, there will be Americans ready to follow in their wake hoping the illusion of prosperity and privilege rubs off on them.

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Race

Gen Z slang is all AAVE.

Are there any Black people working at Vanity Fair???

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Watch this video please. Some white child I have never heard of has been tasked by Vanity Fair to explain “Gen Z slang” and almost every word is just African American Vernacular English aka Ebonics aka How Most Black People In America Talk With Their Friends And Family. None of these words are new…because I’ve been saying them for twenty years with other Black people.

Bop – AAVE
This is the newest AAVE word on the list because we weren’t really saying bop when I was in elementary school. I think that came about in the early 00s.

Clown – AAVE
Clown/Clowning, at least 30 years in the game on that one.

Shook – Unclear
Shook is not a word I heard in real life until after I started seeing it on the internet. It quickly made its way from social media out into the real world, but I didn’t know that was a Gen Z thing. I thought it was Millennial Gays.

Stan – Millennials
To the best of my knowledge, Eminem did not take stan (a stalker fan) from us, because I didn’t hear it until his song came out. Still, this little boy has mentioned neither Eminem nor the song, because these children apparently think they made everything up?

Doin the Most – AAVE
You play too much, you do too much, she do so much, they always do the most, etc. We’ve had this since the 80s.

Facts – AAVE
Facts is so old it might even belong to Gen X. Definitely spread from the New York area throughout the country with hip-hop.

Hit Different – AAVE
Rule of thumb: if your slang phrase drops an S on the verb,  you can probably assume it was taken from us, because that’s a grammar rule in AAVE. Also, his example where he likes Taco Bell more than the Mexican restaurants on Sunset? Throw this child AWAY.

Deadass – AAVE
Another word from the NYC area that spread with hip-hop. Headass didn’t catch on because white kids weren’t smart enough or creative enough to actually understand how to use that one.

Highkey – AAVE
This one belongs to the Millennial Blacks born in the 90s. They drove the popularity of this one.

Snack – AAVE
Older than dirt. Gen X was definitely using this one. Baby Boomers might’ve even had it. Snack is SO OLD.

Slaps – AAVE
I don’t remember saying slaps until the mid 2000s, so I don’t know how old it is, but I know a white toddler didn’t teach it to me, which is what this child would have been at that time.

Put Someone On – AAVE
I honestly didn’t even know white people said this. I didn’t know this one had reached critical mass in popularity for the white kids to not only say it with regularity but say it so much they claimed it for themselves.

Rona – Internet Slang
It could be a product of who I follow on social media, but I thought the Millennial Gays were the ones that made Rona popular because they were calling it Miss Rona all the way last spring.

Say Less – AAVE
I want this child to say less. I know a 19-year-old white kid who actually says this a lot. I need to ask him where he thinks it comes from…

Extra – AAVE
Maya Wilkes on Girlfriends loved to say extra and that was 20 years ago. Please stop playing in my face.

Fire – AAVE
Old. My daddy damn is well over 70 and says fire.

Bet – AAVE
It’s just getting silly at this point. Bet is so versatile and so popular it’s not even slang anymore.

Lowkey – AAVE
Lowkey doesn’t mean you just want to do it a little bit. It means you want to do it but you shouldn’t, or you want to do it but don’t judge me, or you want to do it but you’re conflicted. I hate when nuance is taken out of our culture.

Receipts – AAVE/Gay AAVE
Every Black woman on reality television says receipts and they got it from their gay glam squads. I don’t know if that’s a fact. I’m just throwing it out there because it is so widely popular for that segment of the population and has been for at least 15 years.

Whole Meal – AAVE adjacent?
It’s obviously related to snack, which is ours, but I’ve never actually heard it.

Yikes – They can have that one. Nobody says yikes anymore.

Anyway.

Vanity Fair. Please hire some Black people. The way y’all just committed this unforced error on a pleasant Wednesday is just ridiculous and confusing. Nobody asked for this and nobody was having this conversation, but y’all bust through Youtube like the Kool Aid Man for absolutely no reason, and now y’all will be dragged for the rest of the week.

Also, Black people over 30 — if you have anything to add, let me know and I’ll add your clarifications in an edit. I mean, obviously I’m brilliant, but I don’t know every word in the world, so correct me where I’m wrong while we discuss this as a family.

This is just another example of how Black people drive culture in this country. What we do is hot and everybody else falls in line behind us. White kids on social media have picked up “slang” from Black Millennials on social media. Then they do their little tiktoks and talk to their friends who aren’t following us on social media, and suddenly a whole bunch of white kids are passing around slang to each other that originally came from us….because they haven’t created anything themselves. It’s the same reason white white kids in Montecito will randomly have a light Southern accent on some of their words.

If it’s hot and you can’t pinpoint where it came from? It’s probably Black people.

 

EDIT: Looks like the video is now private. I guess they did get dragged, just like I thought they would.

 

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I love Black people.

Why does that offend so many white people?

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I’ve randomly said “I love Black people!” on many social media platforms over the years and never really thought twice about it. Something will happen, I’ll post it, other Black people will comment in agreement, and that’s that. Some white people will even like the post because whatever I’m referring to is something they appreciated reading or seeing or experiencing with us.

There’s this white guy in my comments today asking why certain things are okay for Black people to say, but not for white people. For example, if we say “I love Black people!” it’s fine, but if white people say “I love white people!” there’s automatic blowback. He seemed genuine enough, though young and a little misguided, so I engaged. I used to engage all the time when I did that kind of thing to pay my rent, but now I rarely expend mental energy online trying to teach white people I don’t know (for free!). This got me thinking because it just hasn’t come up in conversation before.

First of all, Black people and white people move through society completely differently. Different rules apply in how we are allowed to communicate because different rules were created for how we are treated. If you are a white person who purports to be on the side of progress, be less concerned about why Black people can say things white people can’t, and be more concerned with creating an equitable society where we wouldn’t even want or need to.

Alongside that, I’m just so curious where that impulse comes from to even question it.

When I say “I love Black people!” it’s because I felt something that I knew a lot of other Black people were feeling at the exact same time. Some shared cultural experience across a wide swath of the community made me laugh, or I felt bonded by a hardship we can all relate to because we’re Black in America.

When I say “I love Black people!” I feel proud of us for overcoming and achieving something, or I’m in awe of us for finding joy in the face of everything this country has thrown at us.

When I say “I love Black people!” I’m not saying I don’t love other people. I’m having a moment within myself and with my community where I feel a kinship in struggle or excitement or some combination of emotions that I know a lot of other Black people are also feeling.

So when white people ask why they can’t say “I love white people!” it’s not that I mind that they love white people, I’m just curious about what particular instance made you want to say it? What happened that made you feel so connected in a shared experience with White America? I’m not white, so I don’t know for sure, (and if any white people have any comments that are especially insightful, I’ll edit them into the end of this post), but I don’t see a “white community” bonded together by anything in this country other than a shared history of oppressing everybody else. That’s not a read, that’s just me looking from the outside and observing how white people relate to the “white community” at large. When you are the dominant force in a society, everything is just yours in a way, so you don’t need to fight to hold on to anything. Black people have had to fight together against….well, the “white community” for the past four centuries. We are bonded by everything that fight has entailed and the legacy it has left us. What do white people have?

If you are a white person reading this and you have had the urge to say “I love white people!” I would like to know what happened and what the feeling was like. I’ll give you some examples.

When I saw Nia Dennis’s very Black floor routine for the UCLA gymnastics team, I said “I love Black people!”

When I saw this old video of a group of Black men watching Whitney Houston sing the National Anthem and how they were going so hard for her, I said “I love Black people!”

When I see Black Twitter laughing at Shay Moore’s videos of life in the South, I say “I love Black people!”

White people, if any of you have these moments where you feel so proud to be white that you want to exclaim “I love white people!” for other white people to read/hear and join in, let me know. That’s not a set-up. I’m just genuinely curious how people whose history isn’t defined by oppression relate to the rest of their skinfolk with a sense of pride, and how a need to affirm each other in a country that continually questions their worth would manifest itself in statements of love and appreciation.

(Okay…my question does sound like a set-up to get dragged now, but I just kept typing and the words kept coming.)

 

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Race

Hank Aaron’s Guinness World Record

His record isn’t for what you think it is.

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Baseball great Hank Aaron passed away today and I went into a quick dive into his life after reading this excellent write up by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

A Hall of Famer, Atlanta’s first professional sports star, and, in a soft-spoken way, an agent of change in the post-Jim Crow South, Aaron came to embody the city as he embodied the Braves.

Baseball’s all-time home run king died Friday at the age of 86, according to Channel 2 Action News and several reports. The Braves have not confirmed Aaron’s death.

“I don’t think too many people got a chance to know me through the years, and that was something that was my own doing, because I’m actually kind of a loner, a guy that has stayed to himself,” Aaron said in a 2006 interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “A lot of people thought they knew me, but they really didn’t.

“They pretend that they know me, but I travel alone. I do just about everything alone. I have associates, but I don’t have many friends. I would just want to be remembered as somebody who just tried to be fair with people.”

(cont. AJC)

I grew up in a basketball and football household, but my dad kept up with baseball and I went to a handful of Braves games growing up. Hank Aaron was just kind of a vague figure in the back of my mind, someone I knew had a lot of home runs, but that’s about all I knew about the man. The AJC paints a vivid picture of a soft-spoken Black man in the Deep South navigating his way through baseball during the Civil Rights Era, and it’s an engaging read from top to bottom. This particular section jumped out at me:

Aaron had eight seasons with 40 or more home runs, the last coming in 1973, when he finished the year with 713 homers and an estimated 930,000 pieces of mail. Much of it was racist. There also were enough death threats for the FBI to get involved. Aaron received personal protection through the off-season.

That’s like 3,000 pieces of mail a day! I did a quick dive into it so let’s set the scene.

Babe Ruth played baseball from 1914 to 1935, and interestingly enough, while I most associate him with the NY Yankees, he started and ended his career in Boston. He set numerous baseball records (two of which still stand today) and in 1936, he was one of the inaugural five members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He’s one of the greatest sports heroes of all time, Trump gave him a Medal of Freedom in 2018, and the official candy bar of Major League Baseball bears his name (even though it wasn’t created for him, it became inextricably associated with him during the height of his fame). He also hit 714 home runs in his career, a record which stood for almost four decades until Hank Aaron came along.

By the early 70s, Hank Aaron had been quietly chipping away at Babe Ruth’s home run record for twenty years, first with the Milwaukee Braves and then in Atlanta when the team moved to Georgia in 1965. At the end of the 1972 season, Hank had 673 home runs, and for a player who already had eight seasons where he hit 40 or more home runs, it was assumed he would indeed break Babe Ruth’s record of 714 in the very near future. Baseball fans follow the game, so baseball fans were aware of Hank’s hitting stats. Racist America follows notable Black people, and this Black man putting himself within striking distance of a white man’s achievement made the country take note. The amount of hate mail spiked once non fans became aware of Hank’s threat to a record they didn’t even really care about until it was in danger of being broken by a Black player.

On July 21st of 1973, Hank Aaron hit #700 and he was receiving about 3,000 pieces of mail a day. The Braves hired a secretary just to handle Hank’s mail, and team management forbid him from opening his own letters to shield him from the vitriol.

The volume was so great that the Braves assigned secretary Carla Koplin to handle Aaron’s mail. That freed up his time but also shielded the legendary slugger from some of the vile remarks and death threats aimed at him. There were also some congratulatory letters and words of encouragement, but the negative comments heavily outweighed the positive and the Braves gave Aaron his own security detail.

“I was forbidden to open mail for two and a half years. I had a secretary that had to open all my mail and when the games were over with, I had to go out of the back of the baseball parks.”

(cont. Sportscasting)

When the season ended in October, Hank had 713 home runs, one shy of the record. The next six months gave racist America ample time to seethe and write. Hate mail turned to death threats and anyone remotely supportive of Hank was a target.

Lewis Grizzard, then sports editor of the Atlanta Journal, reported receiving numerous phone calls calling journalists “nigger lovers” for covering Aaron’s chase. While preparing the massive coverage of the home run record, he quietly had an obituary written, afraid that Aaron might be murdered.

(cont. Hank Aaron)

Hank Aaron made it to the 1974 season and broke Babe Ruth’s record in Atlanta on April 8th. Between July 1973 and June 1974, Hank Aaron received over 930,000 pieces of mail, the most ever for a private citizen, and a record that still stands today. When I saw that Hank Aaron had a Guinness World Record, I assumed it was for home runs, but his record was broken by Barry Bonds in 2007. Hank has a world record not for baseball, but for racism — America’s other great pastime.

 

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