Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Black History Month Heroes: Mark Watson from "Soul Man"

One-drop makes C. Thomas Howell a Soul Man
Go to your kitchen and pour a tall glass of frosty white milk. Now pull out some chocolate syrup and squirt a few drops into that milk. Get a spoon and slowly stir the two liquids together, watching as a miniature whirlpool develops and ultimately a delicious mongrelization of flavor appears.

The amalgamation of milk and chocolate creates chocolate milk, a delectable beverage that wonderfully punctuates illustrates the concept of the "one-drop rule" that predominates the thinking of Black people.

What is the "one-drop rule"?:
The one-drop rule is a historical colloquial term in the United States for the social classification as black of individuals with any African ancestry; it is an example of hypodescent, the automatic assignment of children of a mixed union between different socioeconomic or ethnic groups to the group with the lower status.[1] The one-drop rule was put into law in the twentieth century, for instance in Virginia under the Racial Integrity Actantebellum years free people could have up to one-eighth to one-quarter African ancestry (depending on the state) and be considered legally white.[2] Community acceptance, carrying out community responsibilities, and appearance were often the most important factors if a person's racial status were questioned. of 1924 (following the passage of similar laws in numerous other states). Despite the strictures of slavery, in the

Similarly in the United States, people of partial Native American descent were usually classified as Native American. In the early years of these types of unions and marriages, the fathers were usually European and the mothers Native American. Most Native American tribes had matrilineal descent systems, so within those communities, they also considered the children to belong to the mother's people.

The concept of the one-drop rule has been chiefly applied to those of sub-Saharan black African ancestry. The poet Langston Hughes wrote in his 1940 memoir:

You see, unfortunately, I am not black. There are lots of different kinds of blood in our family. But here in the United States, the word 'Negro' is used to mean anyone who has any Negro blood at all in his veins. In Africa, the word is more pure. It means all Negro, therefore black. I am brown.

Take a look at that container of pristine milk that recently poured from and realize according to the idea of "one-drop" once even a mere squeeze of chocolate syrup is introduced into that milk it is changed forever. Halle Berry helps illustrate this point further, with her custody battle reigniting the notion of "one-drop":
The Huffington Post and TMZ are reporting that Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry have moved beyond just battling for custody of their daughter, Nahla. In the wake of Berry's allegations that Aubry called her the n-word, they're now in disagreement about their toddler's racial identity.

According to TMZ, Berry told Ebony magazine, "I feel she's black. I'm black and I'm her mother, and I believe in the one-drop theory."

The one-drop rule, of course, is a historical concept that originally referred to the idea that a person with any trace of sub-Saharan ancestry, however small or invisible, could not legally be considered white, unless he or she could claim an alternative nonwhite ancestry.

Its roots are in slavery and segregation, but the racism behind those concepts isn't necessarily invoked every time someone uses it. It's been reclaimed to reflect what many African Americans see as a social reality. We at The Root don't think its use is quite as scandalous as the mainstream media is making it out to be.

Meanwhile, TMZ has reported that Aubry insists Nahla is white and, according to sources, goes "nuts" anytime someone refers to her as black.
Black people, as we have discussed, love being Black. The "one-drop rule" was once used to vilify light-skinned Black people, castigating them to a lowly existence as a "negro" or a "colored" person. No longer is being Black seen as an impediment to success; instead it is viewed as a ticket to an assortment of incentives and programs not available to white people such as affirmative action and diversity mandates.

Though dark-skinned Black people might protest preferential treatment allotted to mulattoes or light-skinned Black people that are blessed with but a partial gift of the genetic "one-drop rule," using the hand nature dealt you is a sure way to nurture a positive results for the future.

A competent, light-skinned Black person blessed with but a smidgen of the "one-drop" can write their own ticket to success in Black Run America (BRA) though they will incur the wrath from darker sisters and brothers.

Interestingly, many light-skinned biracial Black people are milking the system of preferential treatment to Black people in college admissions, hiring policies and race-based policies by siding with their chocolate half:
 A study of biracial people with black and white ancestry has found that many identify themselves solely as black when filling out college applications and financial-aid forms, raising new questions about the accuracy of educational statistics and research based on racial and ethnic data derived from students.

The study of 40 biracial people—all of whom reported having one black parent and one white one—found that 29, or nearly three-fourths, reported concealing their white ancestry in applying for college, scholarships, financial aid, or jobs.

How the respondents reported characterizing themselves elsewhere depended on the context, however, with 29 reporting that they “strategically” identified themselves only as black when they thought they would benefit from doing so. One respondent, whose name is given only as Natasha, told the researchers, “I know that if I say I’m ‘biracial,’ I will get certain things, and if I say I’m ‘black,’ I will get certain things.” Another respondent, Julie, said, “If I’m trying to get more money from the government, I am ‘African American.’ There is no white aspect to me.”

In defining themselves as black, the study respondents “are not necessarily challenging contemporary social norms which arguably define them as black anyway,” the article says. Nonetheless, it says, the study’s findings “raise broader questions about who should benefit from affirmative-action programs,” and whether beneficiaries should be required to have two black parents or whether the “one-drop rule” should be applied to people with biracial or multiracial backgrounds.

Black people couldn't be bothered with harboring inadequate feelings about having "one-drop" in them to qualify and earn their Black card. A Black card, even if it is only "one-drop" is a ticket to unbelievable riches.

A light-skinned Black person can claim to be a Republican and with just enough adherence to the party line could probably run for president in 2012. Fortune 500 companies will bend over backwards to promote a competent Black person just to spurn those who say the hire was merely to reach a predetermined quota of Black employees because this light-skinned Black person might pass for white.

Though they completely repudiate any of their genes and adhere to the notion of "one-drop" these light-skinned Black people aren't hampered with dark Black skin that causes whispers to be heard around the water cooler and questions to be asked in E-mails about that persons qualifications.

The "one-drop rule" was on hilarious display in the 1980s comedy Soul Man, starring a tanned C. Thomas Howell. Blood truly is thicker then water and though Howell's character Mark Watson was just a white boy with a lot of tanning cream, he passed as a light-skinned Black person thanks to "one-drop":
Soul Man is a comedy film made in 1986 about a man who undergoes racial transformation with pills to qualify for an African-American-only scholarship at Harvard Law School. It stars C. Thomas Howell, Rae Dawn Chong, Arye Gross, James Earl Jones, Leslie Nielsen, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

The movie's protagonist is Mark Watson (Howell), the pampered son from a rich family who is about to attend Harvard Law School along with his best friend Gordon (Gross). However, all of a sudden his father's neurotic psychiatrist talks his patient into having more fun for himself instead of spending money on his son. Faced with the horrifying prospect of having to pay for law school by himself, Mark decides to take up a scholarship, but the only suitable one is for blacks only. So he decides to cheat: by using tanning pills in a larger dose than prescribed to appear as an African-American, he sets out for Harvard, naïvely believing that blacks have no problems at all in American society.

However, once immersed in a black student's life, Mark finds that people are less lenient than he imagined and more prone to see him as a black person instead of a fellow student. He meets a young African-American student named Sarah Walker (Chong), whom he first only flirts with; gradually, however, he genuinely falls in love with her. As it turns out, she was the original candidate for the scholarship which he had usurped, and now she has to work hard as a waitress to support herself and her son George while studying. Slowly, Mark begins to regret his deed, and after a chaotic day - in which Sarah, his parents (who are not aware of his double life) and his classmate Whitney, who is also his landlord's daughter (Melora Hardin), drop in for surprise visits at the same time - he drops the charade and openly reveals himself to be white.

The film ends with Mark declaring to his professor (Jones) that he wishes to pay back the scholarship and do charity work to make amends for his fraud, and Sarah decides to give him another chance.
In a country that is increasingly hostile to white people and codifying laws to ensure those hampered by disparate impact get a leg up over the competition and a nation that values diversity as the ultimate ideal, trying to pass oneself off as a light-skinned Black person with but a kiss of "one-drop" makes a lot of sense.

If the movie came out today, Watson could apply for a Gates Foundation Scholarship since those are only available to non-whites. Or he could have gotten into the Naval Academy. Or... okay, that list is long and distinguished.

Black Fictional Month Heroes includes Mark Watson from the fine film Soul Man, as his character helps poignantly showcase the beauty of the "one-drop rule" and how Black people will rally around one another when put into situations that require Blackness to overcome a milky white world.

Plus the "one-drop rule" in Soul Man shows how just a little Black can get you a free ride into Harvard Law School.

Watch Soul Man here. See C. Thomas Howell become Black here.


Desiree said...

I remember this movie. Bits and pieces, as it was a few years ago. It was mildly entertaining. He definitely didn't look black. Like an Indian with a jheri curl.

But the Wayans brothers definitely didn't look like white women.

There is a moral to Soul Man, I think. I have yet to figure it out, though. It should be remade. A ballsy concept like that should be brought into 2011.

I love when people play other races. Tracy Ullman did a really funny ghetto black TSA agent and Ms. Noh-Nang-Ning (sp?), a Vietnamese donut shop owner. She's very talented. Hilarious.

Black/White was a good show by Ice Cube, where the black people were turned 'white' and vice versa. The White couple didn't look black at all but there was a scene in the show where they were seeing each other in 'black face' for the first time and started staring dreamily in each others eyes, getting turned on by each others faux 'blackness'.

Black people are pretty hot... I get it, whiteys.

Post Suicide said...

Maybe we should bring back the one drop rule. Only this time in reverse. If you have a single drop of white blood your a honkey. This would make all whites, most blacks and most hispanics "white". Then we can apologize to ourselves and get this shit over with once and for all.

Anonymous said...

Man shot in back, no names, no pics, no descriptions.


Anonymous said...

Black Serial Killers;

Anonymous said...

The Grim Sleeper Serial Murderer:

Hirsch said...

Soul Man was good, but not nearly as good as "Def by Temptation," which was Samuel Jackson's debut, I believe. That movie had me lmfaowihabfafimraammyamttdmrfbna. If you don't know, that stands for "laughing my figurative ass off while I have a Boba Fett action figure in my real ass and my mom yells at me to turn down the Rush 'Fly by Night' album." Yea.

Anonymous said...

"Soul Man was good"

It hasn't aged well. I kinda liked it in 1986, not so much now. The Vesta Williams song that plays during the closing credits is really good.

Desiree said...

Oh, wow...

Gabriel Aubry called Halle Berry 'nigger'?


I should feel sorry for her but she has obviously, like many very other black celebrities (cough*Beyonce*cough), been bleaching her skin. She abandoned black people after Monster's Ball, coming off like a cheap black whore.

Lisa Bonet in Angel Heart didn't do herself any favors, either. That movie was garbage by the way. For some reason there is an obsession with pairing less-than white guys with attractive black women. Even in Soul Man, dude was just way below Rae Dawn Chong.

Every movie Halle's been in now is opposite white men. She's effectively in racial limbo with her career. So, her getting called 'nigger' by an ugly Anglo model should slap her back into reality. She's a terrible actress.

But Nahla Berry thinks she's white? If true, good God are we going to have another screwed up quadroon on our hands. She looks only half, by the way, because Halle just looks all-black. I don't know which is worse: a confused mulatto/quadroon or a self-hating 'full-blooded' black. Both groups should know that even a little black is too much for the whites who will tolerate the boot-licking. (There is a limit to these things.)

I don't believe Aubry has said anything about Halle being a 'nigger'; no white man would say that to Halle. She's just mad he went out with Kim Kardashian. Can you blame him? Sure Kim K's an idiot but she has a big ass... She could turn out a nun.

Anonymous said...

I think the best racial crossover portrayals are done by Dave Chapelle. Also, the racial draft segment he did a few years ago was utterly hilarious. As for the one-drop rule, I had a Haitian co-worker explain to me a few years ago that there are three classifications there: Black, "Colored" and White. I think we should bring back the term "Colored" I'm not sure why we ever had to do away with that seems rather dignified to me. I actually like Colored people as opposed to the Black ones because it seems the really dark ones have a propensity for criminal behavior, whereas the Colored ones you can trust (somewhat). If I had a house boy, I would want him to be Colored...not Black.

Anonymous said...

"Oh, wow...

Gabriel Aubry called Halle Berry 'nigger'?


1)You assume it's true. It may not be true.

2)You think she didn't say some things toward him that were ugly? You think she's Miss Innocent? You think that during the whole rocky relationship she just sat there tight-lipped while the evil white man uttered the most unholy of unholies?

Black people always feel the need to cry "foul" when they get "dissed." No insult a black levels at a white can get under their skin (and they do try) the way a white can set off a black (with their low impulse control) by uttering that two syllable word.

You sit here and tell the whites that come here to "get over *subject X*" or whatever when in reality black people are the ones with the thin skin. They can't take it. They have to scream and cry about white men calling them "nappy-headed hos" (even though niggers in the rap industry can call women whatever they fancy) but think it's cute when Ice Cube calls white women "cave bitches." It's obvious who can't take it. White people are not the ones marching and throwing fits over such nonsense. We just don't like double standards.

You don't like it when white people call you a "nigger"? Well, then stop referring to the men of my race as "boys." Stop calling my people "crackers" and "honkies."

Anonymous said...

"1)You assume it's true. It may not be true."

Any allegation of white racism is always treated as documented fact by black people.

Desiree said...

1)You assume it's true. It may not be true.

2)You think she didn't say some things toward him that were ugly? You think she's Miss Innocent? You think that during the whole rocky relationship she just sat there tight-lipped while the evil white man uttered the most unholy of unholies?

You obviously didn't read the whole comment. I said I don't believe Aubry called her a 'nigger'. Not for one second, although I could be wrong and it could be true. I don't believe it because I think she's throwing in everything but the kitchen sink because he dated Kim Kardashian--the sexiest girl on the planet--and Halle feels insecure.

Halle Berry is full-on crazy. She's beautiful, yes, but every man she's been with thinks she's nuts. I'd have to go with the crowd. I think dudes would sleep with her and nothing more. I sincerely believe she is crazy.

Here is a black woman (mulatto, yes, but she looks black) who is using her blackness to get sympathy with the black public because of a custody dispute, long after she left the fold. This is the same thing Michael Jackson did after his Invincible album bombed: he called Tommy Mattola a racist. The same happened when he was once again accused of diddling boys: he brought in the Nation of Islam. This is after he bleached his skin, whittled his nose down to the size of a pencil, and had white children.

Halle's tactic is not a surprise. She no longer makes movies opposite black males and, after Eric Benet, she only dates white/non-black men. Yet, she runs back to black.

She's full of shit.

I don't believe for one second she was called a 'nigger'. She's Halle-freaking-Berry: every white man wants to screw her; they wouldn't fuck that up! Again, she's just crazy as hell. The beautiful ones always are. But if he did call her a 'nigger', then it obviously just pissed her off because she thought she was white now, lol.

Remember: I'm black. I know how blacks think; the Halles, the Jackos, are almost textbook.

Anonymous said...

"Remember: I'm black."

Little danger of forgetting this.

Anonymous said...

"Remember: I'm black. I know how blacks think"

At least you admit that blacks all think alike.

Anonymous said...

"You obviously didn't read the whole comment. I said I don't believe Aubry called her a 'nigger'. Not for one second, although I could be wrong and it could be true."

In fairness, I did not read your whole post. My intent was not to mischaracterize your view on the matter. I didn't see where you started addressing the subject later again in the post I replied to. I apologize.

At the same time, it also speaks volumes that you don't believe her husband actually said that. Because that's how much of a cardinal sin it is in this country to cross black people using that word. In other words, that's how much white guilt people like this Gabriel character probably carry around with them. Meanwhile, if a black man referred to him as a "boy," he wouldn't think anything of it. In fact, it may even be black guy he thinks he's "tight" with. Such a standard with regards to racial slurs does not work the other way.