When I read Gene Marks’s Forbes piece, "If I Was A Poor Black Kid," it literally made me woozy with anger. Actually that’s not true. That was how I felt when I read the title and saw Gene’s smiling (white) face shining back at me. I wanted to grab him and shake him like you would a victim of shock. I wanted to yell at him, "STOP ACTING LIKE A WHITE GUY!"
That’s what my friends and I call it when somebody sticks their nose in places where their nose doesn’t belong–annnnnnnnd thinks they have it all figured out. That expression started when I was on the road with Laughter Against The Machine and I was ranting about a (white) dude who exploded on my Facebook page, indicting the entire Occupy Wall Street movement for not doing it right. But what "Karl" (not his real name; I think he spells it with a "C") didn’t do is offer any solutions…or advice…or cloying aphorisms…or even a cookie. I was at a loss for words as to how to explain to "Karl" that he wasn’t helping anything by just being shitty. All I could come up with was, "STOP ACTING LIKE A WHITE GUY!"
Now, I didn’t say that to "Karl." I have enough experience on the Internet to know how that goes down. But with the Gene Marks nonsense, I have to put it out there to the world.
So, here are five signs that you or someone you know is acting like a white guy….
You criticize without giving alternatives, here forward known as "Karling."
When others are having a discussion that doesn’t involve or interest you, you feel the need to butt in and say something along the lines of "Who cares?" This is known as "Yahoo-ing," due to how often this occurs on Yahoo’s comment threads.
You regularly claim to be an unbiased bystander, and then you claim that your "lack of bias" gives you the ability to see things more clearly. That’s called "usaing"–as in, USA-ing. For example, last week the United States government decided to stop usaing in Iraq. This also includes passing judgment on things that you have no reason to think you should understand or to think that your opinion should matter. See: the Mormons and gay marriage.
You never seem to know when to shut up! When you are wrong and proven wrong by things like facts and logic, you just won’t let it go. You insist on taking up space when you would be–and probably have been–advised to sit back and listen. I once heard a male comedian eviscerating the Vagina Monologues and the entire time I kept wanting to scream out, "HEY! MAYBE IT WASN’T WRITTEN FOR YOU!" And in commemoration of the retirement and passing of the man who most specifically epitomized this, it will forever be called "Rooney-ing." RIP.
- You pretend that you can know what a person who is different than you should do, could do, or what you would do if you were them. This will forever be known as "Getting Gene Marksy all up in here!" due to his RIDONCULOUS, MORONIC. COMMENT BAITING, UN-EVOLVED, STOMACH CHURNING piece on what he would do "If I Were A Poor Black Kid." To call it distasteful is to have to reckon with tasting it in the first place.
Now of course, you don’t have to be white or a guy to act like a "white guy." Politics in America proves that everyday. So please, if you can, help me help others to stop acting like white guys, and in the meantime, I’m gonna go learn how to act more like an angry feminist.
W. Kamau Bell is a stand-up comedian best known for his solo show The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour. Kamau will be performing in San Francisco on Dec. 29, 30, and 31 at The Phoenix Theater. Use the discount code Colorlines. He is also a on the board of the Applied Research Center, which publishes Colorlines.com.