Captain Save-a-Negro: A Primer
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I swear I saw commercials for the movie The Blind Side more times than I caught the ads of those cats singing the free credit report jingle. (F-R-E-E that spells free/credit report dot com, baby…) Environmentalists could learn a lot from Hollywood; that place recycles scenarios more often than a tree hugger sneers at Hummer drivers.
The trailers for the movie indicate that The Blind Side is yet another addition to that long list of white savior movies. I haven’t seen it and don’t plan to (In grad school, we call this not being bound by the text.), but it seems that Sandra “I’m doing this movie to make up for playing a racist in Crash” Bullock saves a big black kid from the perils of blackness. (Crabs in a barrel. You know the deal.) I guess the Based on a true story tagline wants to goad me into not being critical of the movie, the genre. Whatever. The movie has provided an occasion to address the white savior film. Since I’ve seen every episode of Webster and Diff’rent Strokes and Dangerous Minds (twice), I’m going to provide a primer for Negro saving for any and all white folks with plenty of money and love in their hearts to adopt a hapless black kid. And for you black youth out there, pay attention. You might find something useful here to make yourself more marketable.
1. Pick a good pathology (and stick to it) — You can’t just rescue a poor black kid. All black people are poor. You need to rescue a poor crack baby. Or some teenage foster kid no one wants because he’s no longer cute and still has flashbacks of being beaten with an extension cord. (No more wire hangers!!!!) Whatever the problem, make sure the kid has nothing to do with it. Black kids need to be completely innocent in order to elicit any sympathy.
2. No pathology? Pick a disaster. — Tragic things happen to black people everyday, but some things are more tragic than others thereby making some black kids worth saving. Drive-by shootings? Totally not cool, but expected and therefore not tragic enough for you to go flying into the ‘hood to save a black kid. Fire? Car accident? Hurricane Katrina? Famine (for those interested in saving African kids)? Quick! Go put on your cape! None of these events is part of the cast of usual suspects making black life so damn depressing, and thus warrant Negro saving. Not sure if the occasion requires your superheroics? Ask yourself: If my friend told me they adopted a black kid after that child had suffered ____, my response would be _____. If the latter blank is filled with something akin to “Aw, that’s so sad,” then you’ve done well.
The test is full-proof. Trust me.
3. Whichever Negro you choose, make sure it’s wearing blue. — No, I’m not talking about Crips. Adopt a boy. How many white savior movies or tv shows starring little black girls can you name? I’ll wait. *Cue the Jeopardy! theme music, please* Maybe it’s because little black boys and their uneven afros are just so irresistibly cute; maybe it’s because little black girls will grow up and become black mothers who will subsequently abuse and/or abandon their children thereby forcing you to save their child(ren), but little black girls hardly ever get saved. I guess Losing Isaiah sounds better than Losing Iesha. Whatever the case, adopt a boy. They’re just easier, and you don’t have to worry about that hair thing. Besides, in high school he’ll be a hit with the white girls. I suppose those little black girls are too busy with their emasculation training, anyway.
4. Remember, he must have some value. — You can’t be all willy-nilly in your Negro saving. You know they steal. Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Summer M!? Sandra Bullock’s adopted son plays football really well. Your black kid needs to be able to do something uniquely charming–like read. Or make you laugh.
5. You need to learn something from all of this — Whether it’s (finally!) figuring out all of the steps to the electric slide or instituting a Soul Train line at your next family gathering, you will learn from your chosen downtrodden black child. Perhaps you’ll just learn unconditional love. Whatever it is, it’ll be memoir-worthy. And you’ll get on Oprah. AMAAAAAAZING!
6. Don’t forget: race has nothing to do with this. — You weren’t even thinking about race until I typed it, right? You are just being a good person, ok? Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Those black people giving you the side-eye at Applebee’s are just haters.
What did I miss?
Have a great week. And yes, you’re welcome.