What a difference a week makes: Last Friday around this time, The Glow Up posted a story about a black man who’d conducted a clever (and sadly revealing) social experiment by wearing a T-shirt that riffed on the Washington Redskins logo by reworking it to say “Caucasians”—and a heated debate ensued.
Some (like myself) thought it hilarious that anyone would be up in arms about what seemed to us a non-offensive and accurate moniker. Others were outraged, insisting that we wouldn’t feel the same if the situation were reversed (though as long as no slur were used, I maintain that I would).
Suffice to say, the greys were thick that day.
Now, we don’t know if O Magazine editor-at-large (and Oprah’s BFF) Gayle King reads The Glow Up (if so, hey, Gayle! We love you!), but she has since started a controversy of her own by asking her Instagram followers to weigh on an item she and the editorial staff were considering including in the magazine’s monthly shopping guide, the O List. It was a hooded sweatshirt emblazoned with the familiar phrase “Black Don’t Crack”—ironically, in a style similar to the logo for A Wrinkle in Time, humorously modeled by O’s longtime creative director Adam Glassman. According to King’s caption, Glassman (likely jokingly) wondered if he could get away with wearing it.
“Thoughts?” King asked.
And if this ain’t where context clues are necessary and the internet fails us once again, I don’t where else is, since almost 1,500 comments later, people were deeply divided on who gets to claim the legendary anti-aging properties of us black folk. As reported by Yahoo! Lifestyle, some simply said “No,” while others debated whether this was allyship, appropriation or just plain entitlement.
“Is he black? No, then pass” and “that would be a NO. He can support in other ways!” were among the comments made against Glassman. However, those in favor of his choice commented, “Sure he can wear it, but it doesn’t apply to him” and “as long as he can respectfully wear it and explain it…go for it.”
Even here at The Root, just a glimpse at the photo, absent King’s caption, raised the hackles of several members of our crew (who will remain anonymous).
Colleague #1: Listteeeeen ...
Colleague #2: WTF. White people have an abundance of the “Doing Too Much” hormone. I think it’s diagnosed as Try-abetes.
Colleague #3: Like, why would you even put that on? And he works for Oprah?
Now, full disclosure: I’ve actually worked with Glassman several times, as a periodic model for the magazine. So admittedly, my first response was to laugh, because ... that shit was funny (perhaps because I also have the benefit of being at least marginally familiar with his humor and personality).
But let’s assume I’d never met Glassman: Would I then be offended, or amused? Well, as I commented last week after seeing a white man wearing a shirt that read, “I met God. She’s Black” (my response was to smile and say, “Yes, I am,”) I’m not sure I’m prepared to be offended by white folks stating the non-offensive obvious—especially when they can be prone to exhibit far, far more offensive behavior. Because when it comes to the beautifying benefits of melanin, where is the lie? It’s like biological Botox.
As one of King’s followers wrote, “Grass is green. Water is wet. The pope is Catholic and black don’t crack. #TheFactsofLife.”
But then there’s the even more important fact: that this was a joke, staged by King, not Glassman. And like her, I can’t help but wonder, “People, where’s your sense of humor?” (Scroll below for video of the two in the O Magazine offices and a look at the tee’s creator.)
On the bright side, unlike “Caucasians” shirt-wearer Frederick Joseph, to the best of my knowledge (and a quick perusal of the comments on King’s initial post), Glassman hasn’t faced any threats of violence or death, whereas Joseph received several. While that means that even amongst those who claimed offense, common sense prevailed; that is sobering—and telling.
Because seriously: If this offends you more than a “Make America Great Again” hat, I got nothing for you, man.