IN A RECENT COMMENT THREAD, a few amigos and myself were speaking of the Goodboy syndrome (as named by reader Pinche Daddio/HeyJoe), wherein a Person of Color feels this mighty and unspoken pressure to respond to the expectations / racism / ignorant thought patterns / fear of the dominant (White) culture. I don't know that this is something one could understand at all, were they not a Person of Color. I'm sure you could imagine or intellectualize it, but the great thing about talking to other members of The Brown™ is that they have lived it, they carry it in their heart and their stomach, in their eye muscles and neck muscles and spine. There is no need to "try and understand." I'm not saying this to exclude anyone, just spittin' my truth here.
The thread is worth reading, I'd say. But in essence, we were speaking of this urge to assuage White Peoples' fears (not you, the other White people) and preconceptions. Perhaps this means making a show—keeping hands in pockets, keeping head down, showing off fine English skills, taking off shades so our friendly eyes can be seen, crossing the street for these people so they don't get too freaked out, buying something in the store we never planned to, keeping far from a shelf so nobody thinks we are stealing, going out of our way in ways we really "shouldn't" have to. It may mean different things to different PoC. To me, this dynamic also includes the time I tried so hard to blend in. It's an abdication of who we are in order to cater to the WHITEMAN's junk. It's me making your® problem my problem...
I'm posting this here because it made me think:
Yes, he is talking about something very specific here, the experience of a POC and maybe even more specifically of a MOC.
What I'm wondering, though, is whether there aren't, in fact, parallels to be found elsewhere.
Because while the details of, say, crossing the street to make the anxious people feel safer, or going out of the way to speak "proper English" and so on don't resonate for me, there was something about this bit that did: (from the screenshot of an obnoxious email captured at the site)
"It's been a long time since I've seen evidence of a Hispanic man taking responsibility for his actions and asking for forgiveness."
It's been a long time since I've seen evidence of ______ taking responsibility...
i.e., and to wit:
"Oh, I didn't mean you. You're one of the good ones."
Something about this formulation does ring a bell.
Where have I heard this before...
Well, let's see. From certain very paternalistic and often (relatively) powerful men, toward myself, in various ways and contexts. From certain straight people. Sometimes in less easily identified dynamics, although I certainly wouldn't swear they were divorced from sociopolitial contexts. Pats on the head come in various flavors and from a variety of sources. And take various forms.
And the mixed feelings that brings up. Damned if you do; damned if you don't. Feels kind of crappy to accept the pat on the head; especially if (ugh) it simultaneously feels...kind of good. Hey, praise is praise, right? And especially especially when you realize "them" is, well, your friends and family. Sometimes even named or identified as such. But oh, won't you be -bad- if you just snarl,
"Thanks for the 'compliment.' Now fuck off."
Because, not only is that scary in and of itself; but if you've already tacitly accepted this person's attempt to have you "represent," you'll be Letting The Team Down. Or...anyway, by the time you've finished processing under the automatic smile, the moving hand, having head-patted, has moved on.
I dunno. Anyone else feeling this? Been a "good boy" or "good girl" in any context?
p.s. just to be clear, I'm not trying to take away from Nezua's point, which you should totally read in full at his place. Just musing out loud, and trying to amplify, for myself if no one else. I may not've felt what Nez felt; but I did feel -something,- reading this. Something that felt...familiar.