Entertainment & Culture
Five Things Black America Should Stop Doing

By Michael Harriot

I’m not here to preach to anyone, but there are a few things Black America should cease doing immediately. Whether you agree or disagree, we need to have this conversation just like we talk about the other despicable actions  Black people do every day (I’m looking at you–people who put sugar in their grits). Here are a few things I wish I could issue a cease and desist order on immediately:

Stop hating on Tyler Perry When I was a college undergraduate studying film, I wrote my senior thesis on Black filmmakers and their place inside the structure of classical Hollywood cinema. The premise of my dissertation was this: Well-made, artistic Black movies are not an indication of equality in the American motion picture industry. Spike Lee, Antione Fuqua and Ava Duvernay would have been able to make movies in even the most racist Hollywood institutions because they are among the best and brightest moviemakers in the world. Until African American filmmakers are allowed the same opportunities of mediocrity as Adam Sandler and other successful-but-middling writers and directors (pronounced “Wyt pee-pull”) we can never say there is equality in Hollywood.

Enter Tyler Perry.

We all know Tyler Perry is no Martin Scorcese. His films are objectively below-average. But I object to the insinuation that they are somehow bad for Black people. Is Madea’s shucking and jiving through a series of hacky on-screen antics any worse than the Ernest Goes To… series? Are Tyler Perry’s fat suited stereotypical tropes any worse than Sandler’s Jack and Jill?  Seth Rogan’s constant plume of weed smoke and subpar jokes don’t make Canadians or White people look bad, so why are we ashamed of Tyler The Uncreative? The movie industry is, at its base, a business. Perry should be afforded the same space as any of his white counterparts. Now, I’m not going to see that shit. Even if Beyonce and Rhianna invited me to judge a pole-dancing competition immediately following a Tyler Perry movie, I’d probably pass, but I didn’t go see A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas either. Look, Tyler Perry probably won’t be nominated for an Oscar this year, but the same people who denigrate him and not his movies are the same people bumping Young Thug CDs on the way home to catch the latest episode of Real Housewives. 

Hating on the filmmaker for making terrible but successful movies is stupid. McDonald’s food is terrible, but I don’t wait outside Mickey D’s waiting for the manager to trash him for their styrofoam McNuggets. Let Tyler Perry live.

Stop Calling this dance “The Running Man”


We can’t become accessories to washing away parts of our history and culture by calling this dance “The Running Man.” Do you even remember “Let’s Get it Started?” First of all, anyone who does this in public can’t be called “a man.” Secondly, THEY AREN’T EVEN RUNNING!” 

If you broke into my car and stole my collection of terrible mixtapes given to me by aspiring rappers, and tried to escape by doing that dance, I’d catch your ass before you got two steps. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but this is a perfect example of how White America has infiltrated our culture and embedded small Trojan horses. I don’t know if they did it to make us look silly, or to finally create a popular dance that they could do themselves, but don’t fall for it. Don’t erase the legacy of such great Black figures as Scoob and Scrap Lover, J.J. Fad and the Ghosttown DJs. I bet MC Hammer is turning over in his grave…

Wait… MC Hammer is still alive?

See how disrespectful y’all are?

Stop enabling sexual assault I know it’s not that simple. I understand that rape culture is a product of a society that revels in mysogyny, sexism and power struggles, but what I can’t understand–for the life of me–is why every other week there is a furious debate about consent and sexual assault. Look, we all know false rape accusations happen, and I am not on board with the people pushing the “believe her” agenda. As a Black man I know there is a perilous line that we tightrope whenever we decide any person is guilty just because they are accused of a crime. However, I also believe we need to explain  the concept of consent like we teach multiplication and long division. What boggles my mind is the recent emergence of cases of dudes inviting their friends to the sexual festivities, apparently without consent.

Look, I will confess something here: I’ve had sex before. More than once. During these sexual escapades, I can’t recall thinking, even once, “you know what would make this even more awesome? If my friends were here!”

I know this is not a new phenomenon. The idea of group sex has a long and sordid history. But for most of human history we also peed outside. Perhaps I’m just old, because if I live the rest of my life having never seen any of my homeboys’ penises, I will be happy.

I know this is not just a Black thing, but when I hear people try to explain away sexual assault with “well, why was she over there so late?” or “You can’t get drunk and then act like you didn’t want it…” I want to scream that they sound the same as White people telling the mothers of dead Black babies that “he shouldn’t have been resisting” or “why did he run, then?” If you can excuse rape because of miniskirts and a woman’s sexual past, then you can’t be mad when  they bring up Trayvon’s hoodie or talk about the time he got into a fight at school. It’s the same thing. The exact same thing.

Stop acting like you ain’t gon’ cry I’ll just be straight up. I’mma cry when they inaugurate the next President of the United States. We’ll probably never have a President who can sing Al Green, preach like a baptist minister and dance to hotline Bling… Well… at least not until Michelle is inaugurated in 2024. All I know is whomever wins this election will be worse than Barack Obama.

We’re in trouble y’all.

If Hillary wins. We are definitely going to war. Hillary is like your demure, quiet friend who somehow always gets into a fight at the club and acts like it wasn’t her fault. Hillary is more hawkish than most of the Republicans, and if there is one thing you should praise Barack Obama for, it’s that for eight years he stiff-armed the cries for escalating wars around the globe like friend who holds you back on the playground when you are screaming “let me go” because both of you know you’d get your ass beat if he does. Sure he droned a lot of  motherfuckers, but The US has been doing drive-bys since Grenada. You can’t really blame him. It’s in America’s DNA.

And if Trump wins, I’ll probably weep like this dude:

We’re gonna miss you Barack Obama. I am going to vote like a proud American next week…

But I’m gon’ cry in the car.

Stop Allowing White People to Dictate Our Narrative I love an honest debate, but I have recently learned to stop pushing back when  White America denigrates Black Lives Matter, protests, or any source of Black frustration. Don’t explain yourself to those motherfuckers. I don’t even believe in the groupthink nonsense of “so-and-so is a distraction,” but in this case it might be. Sometimes we become so occupied in convincing America that advocating for our own lives and safety does not mean we hate or have any animosity against White people, that it occupies more time than we commit to the actual solutions to these problems.

Here is a fact: White America has never embraced any movement for Black freedom. martin Luther King was called a terrorist. The Black Power movement was called “anti-American” and was  targeted by the FBI. The phrase “gag rule” comes from when Congress passed a rule to shut anyone up who even mentioned abolishing slavery. It is now as it has always been.

So you shouldn’t be upset when you hear the phrase “All lives matter.” Don’t even argue against it because history and human nature dictates that it will always be this way. The combination of the collective White guilt and privilege does not allow for them to see clearly. Again, I’m not talking about all White people, I’m talking about “White people.” Its the same as saying that cats meow and dogs bark. Yes, I’ve seen a cat who could bark before, but you know what I mean.

That’s why NegusWhoRead exists.

It is a vacuum-sealed world where Blackness is normative and everything else is looked at from our perspective. We eat fried chicken in public. We are not ashamed of our Blackety-blackness. We are the unsullied. We are the watchers of the wall. We can say “motherfucker” and “nigga” without explaining ourselves. And if you don’t like it…

Running-man your ass away from here.



About the author

Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot

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