Amanda McKnight | Staff Writer
Many people within the Black community keep a running list of White people who have a “Black Card.” A Google search of “Black Card” yields results such as Bill Clinton, Justin Timberlake, Gwyneth Paltrow and John Mayer. That is because these individuals have been presented with the coveted item, which symbolically gives them safe passage through any Black neighborhood in America.
I call shenanigans on this whole idea.
The concept of giving someone permission to be a part of your race makes no sense. If someone wants or thinks they have a “Black Card” they should not only get the benefits of being Black but also the challenges. They should have to deal with being profiled by the police, not receiving promotions, and the same host of other issues that are systematically forced upon Black people. It is one thing for an artist or personality to be embraced by a majority of the black community but when license is given for someone to appropriate to another culture, other than their own, nothing good comes.
John Mayer an artist who sites B.B. King, Stevie Wonder, and Jimi Hendrix as influences in his music was given a “hood pass” by some in the early 2000s. However, Mayer’s card was snatched away in 2010 after his now infamous interview with Playboy Magazine.
Mayer told the magazine, “Someone asked me the other day, ‘What does it feel like now to have a hood pass?’ And by the way, it’s sort of a contradiction in terms, because if you really had a hood pass, you could call it a nigger pass. Why are you pulling a punch and calling it a hood pass if you really have a hood pass?”
Mayer continued explaining the Black experience saying, “What is being black? It’s making the most of your life, not taking a single moment for granted. Taking something that’s seen as a struggle and making it work for you, or you’ll die inside.”
Finally when asked about being in a relationship with Black women Mayer so eloquently explained, “I don’t think I open myself to it. My d*ck is sort of like a white supremacist. I’ve got a Benetton heart and a f*ckin’ David Duke [former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan] c*ck. I’m going to start dating separately from my d*ick.”
Another White celebrity who cashed in on their black card is actress, Gwyneth Paltrow. In 2012 Paltrow attended the Watch the Throne Tour, with her good friends Jay-Z and Kanye. During the concert she tweeted a picture of the rappers on stage with the caption, “Niggas in Paris for real.” Many were outraged over this and let her know on Twitter but Paltrow received support from many of her celebrity friends.
Surprisingly enough, Nas, a rapper known for his outspokenness on race had this to say, “I would slap the s*** out of somebody for Gwyneth Paltrow. She’s the homie, she’s cool. Gwyneth gets a pass. Real people get a pass. We know what this s*** is.” He also added that she is, “she’s a real nigga.”
All of these incidents happened after a person was told they have a “Black Card.” The fact is that no one person can represent a monolithic Black community and not matter who says it, no one has a “Black Card.” No one can be given a pass into another group. Do not misunderstood my point, I do believe that it is completely possible to have friends in diverse communities and be a sympathetic ally to others struggle. It is just important to have boundaries and realize that no one can walk in the shoes of another person.