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.

We are happy for you and all…

We are still in a whole panini, still posting all our business… every single minute, claiming one way rivalries, sub tweeting and posting instead of addressing people directly as WHOLE adults, and still seeking validation for our every move. It’s been a year since we’ve been in the house and it had definitely taken it’s toll. But I’m tired of ya’ll and I want you to do and be better. I feel obligated to tell you about yourselves.

To start, since I am an equal opportunity shit starter, I will begin with myself. I need to definitely ditch some shit that means me no good, I need to delete Door Dash off my phone, take on five less projects, and I need to do as much for myself as I am willing to do for others… and it can’t just be retail therapy, buying shit is not only what self-care is made of. I get on my own nerves. So trust me, I’m not just gonna get all up in your business. I too must get on the good foot. I cannot expect results while I sit idle.

So back to y’all. Stop it.

The internet has fooled us into thinking people support us, care about our lives, and want to see us win. Unless your village got swallowed by a sinkhole, chances are they are directly invested in your success. Your people are your family, friends, close network, your “how many of us have thems”. The rest of us, we care but only for a little while. Some of us on your friends list will clap for you a few times when you celebrate your successes… fa sho… but eventually we just see that shit and keep it moving. Not because we aren’t happy for you… we are… but we got 500 FB friends and some number of folks on Instagram, subscribe to our cousins not so great podcast, listen to a few Clubhouse chats, do Tik Tok challenges with our kids, and we stay on Twitter cuz it’s fast and only 140 characters and not four paragraphs of someone’s theory on why Malcolm ate that mac and cheese like it really was good. We busy… and we already know your kid is smart and you have three side hustles, a perfect spouse, and a 800 credit score. We wanna be down… blah blah blah. But we just don’t have time to care.

This is not hater syndrome, be clear, we are happy for you. But eventually we just feel obligated to tell you how great you are because you keep posting about it. And fewer and fewer people come to your party. So for those of us who are just too damn nice… of which I am not one… really consider why you must tell us every move of your success meter. If it’s just excitement, then carry on… who I am I to tell you not to be geeked. But if it’s to get validation from people around you because you want to be seen… stop. We see you, we saw you, we’ll see you again. That need to be acknowledged is but a degradation of your greatness… it’s neither necessary nor healthy.

Did you know Jay-Z sold half of Ace of Spades to LVMH to the tune of around 100 Million and a share of his interest in Tidal to Square for $297 Million in the past month. Big King King Boss moves… made in silence. You probably didn’t know unless you keep up with such things … and you still thought he was a certified successful billionaire boss.. right? When you move with confidence, folks don’t need all the particulars to see you are shining.

So relax… we see you. Oh and Sidebar… when you have something to say to someone in direct response to a comment they made, address them directly, that whole subtweet/subpost, I’m talking to and about you without talking to you, among fully grown people, is some heaux shit. What we are nit gonna do is address folks while simultaneously leaving them out of the conversation as a way to silence people. Nope. Don’t do it. Bottom line… when you have something to say, go ahead, just ensure it’s coming from a healthy place and not a place of insecurity. Don’t invite all the strangers to your party just so the pictures make you look popular.. ya dig!

KonMari: The Social Media Edition

So a lot of my friends have completed or are attempting the tidying up method of Marie Kondo, which consists of keeping the things that spark joy in your life, giving some thing away, and getting rid of others. I don’t personally follow all of her ideas, I’m not folding all my clothes into perfect squares, but I do believe a clean and organized space creates opportunity for optimal use and peace.

Like my closet and my dresser drawers, my mind is a space as well… and I treat it much the same way. Social media and the multitude of swirling ideas and thoughts going on at once is something that takes up space in one’s mind, and in my mind, there are just some things I want to minimize. I don’t feel bad about it. I don’t care if people don’t like it or are so attached to social media likes and the length of their friends list it bothers them. But the unfriend button is your friend. I know I have I unfriended folks and the absence of their incessant complaints, humble bragging, and sometimes just their presence has sparked a joy in me.

Let me explain:

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are my social media sites of choice. I love a good meme, a powerful statement, an inspirational quote, a funny story, a life update, a friend’s thoughts on a current event, a little bit of shade, and a peppering of petty… but much like my real life, if I don’t deal with you in real life, if I’m not inspired by you, or just generally love your content, chances are I don’t really care what you have to say. That may come across unkind, and it’s not intended that way. It is simply the truth.

I’m not interested in folks who are rape apologists, racists, panderers to the patriarchy, R.Kelly “separate the man from his art” folks, hoteps, folks collecting friends and likes out of insecurity, keyboard gangsters who can’t hold a real conversation in person, blind followers, and anyone I used to talk to but decided against talking to in real life. Those people just add to my social media anxiety. I don’t want to even see anything they have to say because it’s likely to set me off, which will lead me to comment, or want to comment. That’s me. I’m sure you have your list… honor it.

When you clear up your timeline and fill it with inspiration, funny anecdotes, GOT conversations, and dance videos, it will make your social media time a break from your stressful life, not an addition. Read about, talk about, and view things that spark joy, and if there are people you follow who sour your experience, for your own peace, don’t be afraid to hit the button. And after you hit it, and your friend list goes down by one, post this:

If that meme doesn’t spark joy… we’ll probably never be Facebook friends or real friends, and you might be in your way to the “get rid of” pile!

Jokes, it’s just jokes.