I think I may know why white people are so upset about this Dr. Seuss/cancel culture thing. I was reminded of this story today.

It goes back to the second-most devastating day of my life:

The day I found out the Hardy Boys were white.

A thread
Some people know I was homeschooled until I was 12. I recently found out my mother was conducting an experiment. She told me she doesn't believe "a black child fully realize their humanity in the presence of whiteness."

A lot of people think that's racist. Here's why it's not.
I was raised in a Black neighborhood, in a Black church, and in a Black family. But it's not that I didn't know white people existed.

The guy who delivered fresh eggs every week was white. My grandmother sold Avon and her plug was white. I saw white people at the Piggly Wiggly.
But my mom did other things. When my sisters and I were really young, she would read bedtime stories. But she would change all the names. When she worked at night, she recorded cassettes of her reading for us to fall asleep to.
She even removed covers from books with white kids on the cover. We also couldn't watch reruns of "Sanford & Son," "The Jeffersons" or "Good Times" until we were older.

I'll explain why in a minute. But just know that our TV habits were very limited
It's not she woke us up every morning with "Lift Every Voice" or told us "Beware the whites" before we went to sleep. But this was my normal. I had seen Diff'rent Strokes and Sesame Street. I liked Arthur Fonzarelli.

I knew white people were a thing.
But, if you had asked 8-year-old me, I would have told you that MOST people were Black.

And so, never having seen them, I assumed the Hardy Boys were 2 niggas from the suburbs of Detroit. Same with Encyclopedia Brown.

Black was my default.
I also grew up in a family that didn't celebrate Christmas. We didn't eat pork. But I had a cousin who was raised as my sister, and HER mom ate bacon and gave Christmas gifts.

One year, she came back with something incredible.

A Dr. Seuss book.
See, a LOT of Black parents always knew Dr. Seuss was lowkey racist. It's WHITE people who are just finding this out. My mom forbade him.

Now, I assumed my mom was against the book because of his repeated references to pork. But, So when Robin brought home Green Eggs and Ham...
It was OVER for mom's cassette tapes. I hid that book under my mattress and Robin and I read it every day.

To this day, my sisters and I can recite every single word of "Green Eggs and Ham."

Then I started going to public school. And the school was mostly white.
Sometimes, I'd be reading a book and the plot would seem vaguely familiar. That's when it clicked:

"This is just white Encyclopedia Brown!"

Oh shit! The Hardy Boys are white, too? I was devastated.

One day I came home from school, and my mom was sitting in the yellow chair
She NEVER sat in the yellow chair. It was my grandmother's chair. The ONLY time she ever sat in that chair was for one reason:

House Court.

Y'all, we had WHOLE ASS TRIALS in my house when we got in trouble. There were juries and everything. Even the neighbors would get involved
But on this day, my mom was just sitting there, rocking in that faux leather Lazy Boy with a copy of Green Eggs and Ham.

Technically, it wasn't my book. But I kept it under my mattress because my sisters were all snitches. So I know, if it was ever found, they were GONNA tell.
My legal team (my sisters) prepare my defense. We couldn't come up with anything, so I confess and plead my sentence down to 2 weeks punishment (the max sentence)

Doing time in the hole wasn't that bad, because it gave me an ace card:

For 2 weeks, I had a servant (Robin).
For months, I held that over their heads. If it was my turn to wash dishes, I could blackmail Robin with: "What if mama found out about Green Eggs and Ham, tho?"

I had forgotten this story until today, when my sister texted:

"Remember when you got in trouble for Dr. Seuss?"
I had totally forgotten about it. But I've actually had this conversation with my mom about insulating us from whiteness like this and she explained why.

The belief that a Black child cannot realize their humanity in the presence of whiteness had nothing to do with white people
She had nothing against Fred Sanford or George & Weezy. Or the Hardy Boys. Or white people.

The few representations of Black people on TV & in books were WHITE PEOPLE'S versions of us. Not necessarily negative as much as they are stratified...Sassy or subservient. Poor or lucky
The criminal or the hero. Our existence is defined by how white people see us.

As an adult, I realize what mother went through for this experiment. Checking every book, teaching us at home, checking our TV habits.

It sounds like a LOT of labor. And it was.
Most white people can't comprehend what that's like. I honestly believe that the reason a lot of white people think I'm "the real racist" is because I never learned how to care what white people think. There is a subtle, subconscious deference to whiteness that MOST of us have
But here's the thing: I understand why they can't understand it. Who cares if Dr. Seuss was racist one time in that one book? Should he be canceled?

They don't realize that the ONLY time a Black child saw themselves in a Seuss book was in a racist illustration.
They can't comprehend because, even if there's 1 bad characterization of whiteness, there are ONE HUNDRED other characters in the book. Even when the villain in the TV show is white, so is the hero...And the hero's sidekick...And the lawyer...And the cop...And judge...
And the anchor on the news...And the weatherman...And the QB...And the commentator...And everyone except the ONE Black person.

The point is: THEY GET TO CHOOSE!

The only way to stop a Black child from ingesting this inescapable harm is to LITERALLY insulate them from whiteness
The ONLY way to prevent them from looking into society's mirror & seeing a white man's caricature of their reflection is to build a white people-free cocoon.

But it's hard for them to imagine what it's like when books, TV, movies, etc. have predetermined how the world sees u
My mom manufactured a bizarro world where white people were the minority, they did not control the narrative and Black was the default.

The whites are absolutely right about one thing, though. Y'all canceled Dr. Seuss.

Trust me, I know.

I was today years old when I realized:
I grew up in a "cancel culture."

Thank you
Thank you
Black, I am.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh
 

Keep Current with Michael Harriot

Michael Harriot Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

PDF

Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @michaelharriot

30 Apr
I'm not an expert so maybe we should ask some experts whether or not America is a racist country

A thread:
You know who might know? The Supreme Court. If only they had written something like:

"But it is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted [the Declaration of Independence]"...
"they knew that it would not in any part of the civilized world be supposed to embrace the negro race...The unhappy black race were separated from the white by indelible marks, and laws long before established, and were never thought of or spoken of except as property,"
Read 23 tweets
30 Apr
Now, first let me say that I have never been a police officer, so I can’t tell you if you’re doing it wrong.

But facts can.

So what happens if we defund or abolish the police?

Most people say: But what will happen if we don’t have someone to solve crimes?
Well, police don’t really do that.

Fewer than half of all crimes are reported to police. And fewer than half of those crimes are solved.

That means (lemme do the math in my head) police are operating at about 20% efficiency.
Read 15 tweets
22 Apr
When I was a 10 or 11, my cousin told me he had a jar that could catch sunlight. I wanted one so bad that I decided to make one. I wrapped a mason jar in electrical tape took it outside, opened it for a while & sealed it real tight.

I took it to my room, cut off the light...
Nothing!

My cousin was from NJ and was spending the summer down south, so he didn’t have access to his, but he assured me that his had could really catch sunlight! I must’ve been doing it wrong.

So I tried again. This time, I wrapped the jar with 3 layers of tape...

Nada.
Man, I tried to figure that shit out all summer! I tried leaving the jar out all day. I tried different lids. I tried duct tape. But nothing worked. And he PROMISED me his jar could catch sunlight. I was just doing something wrong but I couldn’t figure it out!
Read 13 tweets
19 Apr
Actually, they are.

But I'm willing to believe you are right if you can disprove all of the facts.
First, let's get 3 things out of the way.

1. Police disproportionately kill more Black people. That's just a fact. Between 2013 and 2020, police shot and killed Black people at a rate of 6.6 per million. They killed white people at a rate of 2.5 per million.

Prove me wrong. Image
2. It has nothing to do with crime or violence

Most police killings occur during traffic stops, mental health wellness checks or a nonviolent offense. Plus the rate of police killings don't correlate to violent crime rates in 49 of 50 major cities.

Again, prove me wrong ImageImage
Read 20 tweets
18 Apr
People are only NOW beginning to recognize @TuckerCarlson’s white nationalist dog whistles.

Remember when the dude who rails against “cancel culture” told viewers to cancel @TheRoot because we criticized the “It’s Ok to be white” movement?

theroot.com/why-fox-news-l…
Or remember when he tried to start a race war after Joy Ried called him a white nationalist?

I wonder how she knew 3 years before everyone?

theroot.com/tucker-carlson…
Remember when he said white people weren’t “designed” to live around immigrants.

It’s almost like no one cared!

theroot.com/tucker-carlson…
Read 7 tweets
17 Apr
This shouldn’t matter... But let me show you why it does:

A thread.
First, let’s see what some of the people who dismiss the idea of systemic racism were up to to today:

Take race scholar @CarmineSabia for instance. He predicted that the shooter couldn’t possibly be white. Then again, he has a history of knowing a lot about racism
A lot of people said the cops were protecting the mass murderer because he was a person of color.

Now I don’t think that’s quite how America works but, who am I to judge geniuses soothsayers like @BuzzPatterson, who also predicted the shooter’s race

He is a noted racism expert
Read 17 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!


This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!