All Black People Can Sing and Other Lies

There are certain lies that over time we’ve allowed to permeate culture and pollute the minds of otherwise rationally thinking people. I’m not sure how the lies originate; I’m less sure about how or why they continue to live on. So I’ll just blame the devil. I’ve asked Chris to help me put together of list of these lies.

Let’s review the list, shall we?

  1. All black people can sing. — Erik

If you’re upbringing was anything like mine, you grew up with people letting this untruth fly all the time. Also, if you’re like me, you can remember hearing the people sing well every Sunday at your grandmother’s church and actually believing the lie until that one faithful Sunday when guest churches showed up for a musical and that one lady with the glasses led a song, helping you to realize once and for all that the lie is a lie.

All black people simply cannot sing. For every Whitney Houston there’s an Ashanti. For every Fantasia there’s a Mary J. Blige. For every random, unknown guy singing in the subway with nearly perfect pitch, there’s an IceJJFish to put his lack of talent on display and be the internet’s punching bag.

I’d actually venture to say that the lie is an inverted fact. Most black people cannot sing. If this weren’t the case then the ones who actually can wouldn’t be viewed as being so exceptional.

Chris: I would actually disagree with you, Erik, and agree with this supposed lie. I believe all black people CAN sing. I just don’t believe all black people can sing well. There is a difference. I think what gives black people, all black people, the innate ability to sing is a thing called “melisma.’ Melisma is the ability to sing a music phrase between notes without breaking. Think Wanye and his never ending head shaking. I think black people all have the ability to do this. Other folks are not as fortunate. Okay, here’s another example, The Reverend Al Green. Al Green is a legend. Say his name around your granny and watch her poke her booty out just a little. Al Green has had a long sustained career and he’s done it all by being able to sing (naturally as a black person) but not being able to sing well.

2. Black don’t crack. — Erik

This one is used to insinuate that black people don’t age. Where people of other races seem to look older than they are, black people tend to look younger… I just don’t know, man.

I can think of a bunch of really old black people that look like all of their years. Cicely Tyson, for example, looks great for her age, but she looks like every one of her 1000 years.

I know what you’re thinking. “But what about Angela Bassett? She’s 97 years old and still looks 40.” You’re right. Angela Bassett looks amazing. She’s the exception.

I think the “black don’t crack” lie is an inverted fact too. I just think while other people tend to look older than they actually are black people age just right. That’s why Lorde looked 43 when she had her first hit single, Royals, rather than the 17 she claimed.

3. Black Folks Can Dance . — Chris

Yeah, this one aint true at all. Remember Kanye? Remember Ex-University of Chicago professor Barack Obama? While I like to joke about folks that clap on the one and the three, there are a bunch of folks out there with real life black mamas and daddies out here looking like Elaine on Seinfeld when Bodak Yellow is played. But really, that’s okay.

Whereas white people learned to adapt by jumping up and down to their hearts content to “Don’t Stop Believing” black folks invented “The Wobble,” “Cupid Shuffle,” and “The Electric Slide.” So, don’t buy into the lie that all black people can dance. Some of us cannot. But through the beauty of group dances, black people can mask those shortcomings. I mean, not everyone is supposed to bust a jig at an Atlanta-area gas station.

4. Black People Think OJ Was Innocent

I have yet to meet a sane, rational, non-hotepian black person that believes Orenthal James Simpson had no part in the murder of his second ex-wife. I hate to speak collectively for all black people, because we aint a monolith, but we ALL know he did it, because he did it.

5. Black people only listen to rap. — Erik

Among black people, this is pretty obvious. But at my workplace, at least, if I’m wearing headphones and bobbing my head, the assumption is that I’m listening to “gangster rap”. I’ll save the discussion about how all rap is not gangsta rap for another day, but it is interesting to note how a small segment of rap is viewed as being the whole.

Anyway, there have been several times when a co-worker’s mind was blown to catch me listening to Imagine Dragons (Chris note: 😟) or Maroon 5. It’s always “I just never pegged you as the type of person to listen to this.” I wonder why.

6. Bonus: Black church songs never end. — Erik

Ok, so this one is true. In fact, the first after church chicken dinner was a direct result of the choir singing “Jesus Be A Fence” and not finishing until 3p (this is despite the fact that this song has all of about 13 words in it). Somebody called their grandma at another church to bring chicken. A lot of chicken. Thus, the pairing between the black church and fried chicken was created. #BlackHistoryFacts