Black Folk: Overseer Syndrome

“I love Black folk
Black look like a revolution
Look like a family reunion in the park
Black look like it’s a different world
Sound like a crawfish boil in New Orleans
Black folk joke around like Martin and got paintings from JJ in the living room
It sounds strong, look like sacrifice”-Black Folk, Tank and the Bangas

First, some housekeeping.

(1) I love ya’ll. What I’m about to say is not unique to us …everybody has an opinion, everyone tries to dictate, through the incessant sharing of their opinions, how much other people should speak on or about a topic… but it is especially ever present in our exchanges with and about one another. It is as if many of us believe that by saying shit like… ya’ll got too much time on your hands or why you talking about millionaires when you don’t have millions …we are going to shame or embarrass someone out of their right to share their thoughts. Every day or week or hour you log into Facebook or Twitter to read what?!? What you think folks are posting about?

(2) Will and Jada are not beyond or outside of the realm of topics available for people to opine about. I mean these people frequently put all their personal and marital business out. Neither are student loans, the first Black female Supreme Court Justice, work, fitness, Starbucks, entanglements, Target, politics, or the awesomeness of Atlanta, Snowfall, and Abbott Elementary. My favorite character on Abbott Elementary played… Chris Rock … once upon a time. But anyway, all this shit and more is on the discussion menu. You can only decide to not serve it at YOUR TABLE, stop trying to get other people to stop talking. You are not the boss of them. It’s like massa disciplining slaves for reading… we is free now, we can read books and talk… about whatever the fuck we want! Don’t like it.

So, Will Smith assaulted Chris Rock. Folks found the raw footage on Twitter… and in response, ya’ll had multiple reactions.

Did that really just happen?
Well, keep folks spouse’s names out yo mouth.
Will was wrong.
Chris Rock took that pimp slap like a G.
Jada toxic.
Will should have waited to slap him, perhaps in… August!
And my personal favorite :
Ninjas get slapped everyday B.

We talked about it for three days incessantly. Then, the opinion police came out in droves and told people… Enough. I don’t think in reality it’s about folks minding their business, or having too much time on their hands. It certainly is not about being a millionaire, cuz, well, these same folks want their student loan debt forgiven. It’s this very narrow minded, and frankly irritating as fuck, form of control… this need to try to control what you read and see on social media like some overseer.

Not only does the crabs in the bucket theory apply to folks doing well it applies to folks being different or outliers… we often try to reel folks in who don’t think like us or who talk about subjects that trigger our emotions in some way. Your insecurity, sensitivity, or irritability to the topic doesn’t give you any dominion over others. If you’d rather day trade to try to become a millionaire while other folks are talking about millionaires, go ahead. You don’t need to announce it to try to run other folks. Run yourself. You’ll get farther. That’s some vestiges of slavery crap. We are not formulating a revolt and tryna get Chicken George on board… it’s social media… the space and place for social discourse. Don’t like the discourse. Again…

But overseer syndrome is some hot garbage.

In 1851, Samuel Cartwright, a boiling hot racist physician, coined the term drapetomania, which was a mental illness associated with slaves attempting to flee. He argued that slavery was such a pleasant experience, one had to be insane to want to live freely. This was widely accepted in the South and even slaves began to believe it was a valid disorder. This type of scientific justification for slavery was used as manipulation and mind control to, you guessed it, stop slaves from trying to run away. Imagine that! And who do you think touted this garbage to the slaves the most… the overseer. When the overseer was another slave, these outrageous ideas seemed to take flight. After all, he was “one of them.” The overseer was also responsible for telling on and discipling disobedient slaves, and keeping them “in line” while they worked.

This is the same shit the social media police do. You label a perfectly human desire… wanting to be free or wanting to express one’s self… as some kind of ill. People aren’t working hard enough if they got time to talk about X. People aren’t paying attention to the things that matter if they are focused on Y. And my favorite… You are broke and talking about rich people, go make some money. That’s funny..cuz post your bank account. If we wanna whistle while we work, so what, we are not in the fields of the Wiley Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina. Who you gon tell? Mark Zuckerberg? The truth is my opinion only diminishes yours if you believe it does. My opinion might make more sense or even be more rooted in reality, but that neither negates your right to express nor gives you any right to try to shut me down. I don’t have to espouse the same ideas as you on the same timetable. Again… who you gon tell? Massa gone.

My suggestion is that you stop, if you do this. It’s an ugly and frankly poisonous behavior. Human thought is often the impetus for great change, huge advances, creativity, new ethical considerations, and the spark that ignites big, huge, genius level ideas. No one person guides or control human discourse… and any attempt to is frankly some bullshit. Your thoughts are not more important than other people’s, and your desire to quell a conversation is your own. The rest of us can keep talking. The rest of us will keep talking. Black folk is free.