“Black don’t crack.” The phrase is gospel, at this point, and even scientifically proven, to an extent (hey, we’ve got good bones). So, most of us Black folks of a certain age take subversive joy in watching the surprise register on someone’s face as we reveal our true age, confirming that while the hands of time don’t stop for anyone, the aging process is often much delayed for the more melanated among us. It’s a gift (though reparations would still be appreciated, too).
But some of y’all take this shock-and-awe shit too far.
Case in point: A now-viral clip from last week’s episode of Kevin Hart’s Hart to Heart on Peacock, with uber-talented actor Don Cheadle as the featured guest. As was to be expected in a conversation between two Hollywood A-listers who also happen to be good friends, the interview was full of insights about breaking into the industry, guarding their private lives, and hilarious moments, one which occurred when Hart reacted to Cheadle’s casual admission of his age: 56.
“Damn!” Hart, 42, barked in response.
Now again, these two men are good friends, so the exchange—which included a flawlessly performed moment of deadpan yet slightly menacing silence from Cheadle—was all in good fun. But as a proud member of Gen X, Cheadle’s generation—and technically, Hart’s too (though like Hart, I sit closer to the Xiennial end of the spectrum—and the fact that I even point that out should tell you I’m starting to develop a complex)—I’m here to tell you: Y’all are are not going to go from repeatedly forgetting we even exist to now aging us out of existence.
We get it, we get it...on the whole, we’re pretty low key. We are the latchkey kids of generations (literally); the lay-in-the-cut, heat-yourself-up-a-snack, defrost-the-chicken generation who was raised on afterschool specials, Yo! MTV Raps, and mixtapes (made on actual cassettes). We’re also the generation who, as previously noted, made hip hop a thing (and hip-hop journalism...and hip-hop feminism). We not only brought you mastery of the internet—and the phrase “It’s a Black thing. You wouldn’t understand”—but intersectionality. When Chickenheads [Came] Home to Roost during The Coldest Winter Ever? That was us, there to Set It Off. Baby girl, better known as Aaliyah? She was technically an X-er, as were Biggie and ‘Pac, and as are Missy, and Pharrell, and Jay, and ‘Ye, and Lisa Bonet, and...well, more than a few of your faves here at The Root.
Yes, this is a hill I will die on, even while being told I’m already over said hill.
In short, we may be criminally underrated, but we remain ever-imitated, which is why Don Cheadle’s reaction so perfectly encapsulates the mood that is Gen X. Yes, we may be swiftly approaching “get off my lawn” age, but frankly, we’ve always been pretty territorial about our grass. It’s a Gen X thing. You wouldn’t understand.
But understand this, Generations Y, Z and so on: Time keeps on tickin’...and all jokes aside, one day, this will be you, too.