On Friday Ta-Nehisi Coates over at the Atlantic dug up Queen Latifah's SNL Excedrin for Racial Tension clip. That popular faux commercial about the nagging pain that accompanies curiosity-driven whites. Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. Those "can I touch your hair?" "do you wash your hair?" "where can I get some good soul food?" painful curiosities.
I appreciate Ta-Nehisi for pulling that baby out of the closet. Over the weekend a co-worker of a friend, a woman I've meet at least three times, innocently introduced me to her husband as "Jamal". I broke out in laughter. The woman apologized and said, "I don't know why I keep wanting to call you Jamal." I replied, "Cuz I'm Black." If I took over-the-counter medication I would have popped an Excedrin right then and there. Nagging attacks like that can slice three years off a black man's life. So I did the smart thing. I darted over to the nearest Vitamin Shoppe for three quick drops under the tongue of Oil of Oregano. It knocks out the pain from a racial nag in seconds, and the flu (in case you were interested). And yes, black folks get the flu.
I'm thinking that a group of us should publish a book of racial nags. First, we'll need to compare and contrast. I'll start. Do you know anything about the Blues? (asked by the non-Black girlfriend of my white neighbor upon meeting her). Do you know of a good dance spot in Brooklyn? (asked by a random white couple while I was standing on the corner, Trader Joe's bag in tow, waiting for the B52 bus). And ultimately, Do you know where to get good weed? (wait! this was asked by a buddy of mine, black, who was visiting Los Angeles from Queens).
Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.