Progressive Black-White Friendships and White Swipe

My white stand-up comic friend and I have a genuine, progressive black-white friendship. Not the “colorblind” joke you see on TV, but a brutally historical and color conscious one.

This was on full display when he offered to steal a joke from me (For the sake of being a hater and not giving him any extra shine, as opposed to confidentiality, I left his name out of this piece). What could’ve been a bitter fight over white swipe turned into a history lesson and joke session.

It started when we were hanging out and he insisted I kill a bee flying by my feet. After stepping on it twice for good measure I sneered, “Dick Cheney,” like a ball player calling, “Kobe,” after canning a jumper.

That lead to:

“Dick Cheney is the 50 Cent of politics. He’s survived multiple heart attacks, which is like getting shot nine times. At least it’s the US political equivalent compared to how rappers get killed (What does getting shot in the head driving through Dallas or shot while watching a play have on getting shot in the neck and being thrown from a moving van?).

He’s shot people.

He’s been in the drug business and gotten into wars. And when his new book comes out he’s starting beefs.”

I didn’t think much of the comment but my friend suggested I write it down so he could steal it. It was hard to resist the implications of him trying to do me like Chuck Berry.

Although it was a passing thought, I would be damned if he made any scrap of money off my ideas without compensation or credit (I’m already an unpaid blogger and freelance writer in an economy where newspapers can’t afford them).

My friend was so insistent he lent me one of his laptops. Apparently, his dad wasn’t supposed to know about it because he just helped him buy another one, thinking my friend broke it.

To convince his dad the computer was mine, he told me to change the background. Perhaps reflexively, I chose a picture from the Haitian Revolution.

My friend wanted help expanding the Dick Cheney-50 Cent bit, but being a suburban white rock fan, he didn’t follow 50’s career. He asked me to feed him ideas as well as school him on 50 (I couldn’t make this scenario up if I wanted to).

To spur the creativity he turned on some classical music (“Beethoven, Mozart, or something,” according to him). We couldn’t help but laugh as we looked at his computer’s new background and realized the Haitians were probably bumping something similar at the time.

After giving him a brief synopsis of 50’s career, mainly the startling number of feuds and scandals that could be juxtaposed with some of Dick Cheney’s most infamous moments, we decided to part ways.

Without missing a step, my friend jokingly said, “You can go to your home now.” Then he put a bow on it with, “Of course I’ll probably call your descendants lazy when I don’t pay them the money I owe you.”

If I were at work or in a class and someone I didn’t know said that, I might’ve reacted more hostile, but I just told him to look up “Suge Knight and Vanilla Ice” (Go to the 7:28 mark).

He laughed and I headed home.

I share this story for a couple of reasons. First, it’s important to recognize that history repeats itself and the dynamics of black and white relations haven’t changed as much as we think they have. We have just gotten better at laughing about it over the years (Some of us anyway).

More importantly, anyone who reads this is a witness to the money I’m owed in the very improbable chance my idea is transformed into a lucrative bit. If I turn on a TV and see Carlos Mencia biting anything that has slipped out of my mouth in front of my friend then I’m going to collect my money.

Call me naive, but I’m chasing the historically elusive black dream of proper compensation, even if I have to hang my friend over a balcony to do it.

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