Bestowing “Honorary Blackness” has its roots in segregation

Posted on November 7, 2013


The Miami Dolphins bullying/hazing/conduct unbecoming case is still evolving, but I thought I’d take a look at the assertion by a Miami paper regarding the mood and opinions in the Dolphins locker room by some players. I guess if you live long enough, you can see where something from segregation gets recycled, and in this case, it’s the “honorary blackness” award. Here’s an excerpt from the Miami Herald:


Incognito considered black in Dolphins locker room

by Armando Salguero



 . . . Richie Incognito left Jonathan Martin a voice mail that, among other things, called Martin a “half-n—-r.” And Dolphins players of color, knowing of the voicemail, have expressed no problems with Incognito.

“I don’t have a problem with Richie,” Mike Wallace said. “I love Richie.”

“I don’t think Richie is a racist,” cornerback Brent Grimes said.

“Richie Incognito isn’t a racist,” tight end Michael Egnew said.

ESPN analyst and former Dolphins wide receiver Cris Carter has know Mike Pouncey since the player’s childhood. Today Carter said on air he recently spoke to Mike Pouncey and the center, who is Incognito’s friend, addressed race.

“They don’t feel as if he’s a racist, they don’t feel as if he picked on Jonathan repeatedly and bullied him, but if they could do it all over again there would be situations that they might change but they’re very, very comfortable with Richie,” Carter said.

“They think it’s sad, not only that Jonathan’s not on the football team, but also that Richie is being depicted as a bigot and as a racist.”

How is this possible?

Well, I’ve spoken to multiple people today about this and the explanation from all of them is that in the Dolphins locker room, Richie Incognito was considered a black guy. He was accepted by the black players. He was an honorary black man.

And Jonathan Martin, who is bi-racial, was not. Indeed, Martin was considered less black than Incognito.

“Richie is honorary,” one player who left the Dolphins this offseason told me today. “I don’t expect you to understand because you’re not black. But being a black guy, being a brother is more than just about skin color. It’s about how you carry yourself. How you play. Where you come from. What you’ve experienced. A lot of things.”





“I don’t expect you to understand because you’re not black”



BHAWAHAHAHAHAHA . . . If I had a dollar for every time someone used that line . . .

I wonder if those individuals who feel they have the power to bestow “honorary blackness” on behalf of the black race know their benevolence has historical connotations?



But first, here’s a brief rundown of those who were bestowed with “honorary blackness” and how they handled this dubious “honor”

Comedian Lisa Lampanelli:

The Tweet Lampanelli will always regret

The Lampanelli tweet, after whoever the hell she hangs with convinced her that she’d won “honorary blackness.” Note what she did with it.





Ex-Miami Dolphins player Richie Incognito spent his “honorary blackness” card like this:


“Hey, wassup, you half-n—-r piece of (expletive). I saw you on twitter, you been training ten weeks. Want to (expletive) in your (expletive) mouth. I’m going to slap your (expletive) mouth. Going to slap your real mother across the face. (laughter). You’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.”





And here’s a link to show just how grateful Incognito was, because he turned right around called his close friend . . . wait for it . . . a “nigga”





“Mike Pouncey, Nigga! Fuck this shit!” can be heard at the start of the video:




Link to video:




For those unaware, Mike Pouncey is one of Richie Incognito’s defenders. Yes, they’ve got a real deep friendship going, based on mutual respect (eye-roll). Sure looks to me like Incognito called out Mike Pouncey in a very public place.


There’s also an report that Warren Sapp states Incognito called him a nigga/nigger (look, there’s no difference folks, no matter who pretends they’ve now created a “new” tenderly affectionate meaning for the word. My advice? Don’t try this at home).






A couple of very popular radio hosts who swore they were “honorary” black men back in the day:


Promo picture of Amos and Andy radio show. The writers, who were the creators  and performers on the show are in blackface.

Promo picture of Amos and Andy radio show. The writers, who were the creators and performers on the show are in blackface.




Amos and Andy (blackface version) note the "Here we is again. Ain't dat sumden!" which perpetuates the dialect stereotype

Amos and Andy (blackface version) note the “Here we is again. Ain’t dat sumpin!” which perpetuates the dialect stereotype



Excerpt from  The Adventures of Amos ‘n’ Andy: A Social History of an American Phenomenon by Melvin Ely. Items in bold are my doing:

“Forty million Americans indulged in a national obsession in 1930: they eagerly tuned in Amos ‘n’ Andy, the nightly radio serial in which a pair of white actors portrayed the adventures of two southern black men making a new life in a northern city. Fans insisted that the unfolding story of Amos, Andy, the Kingfish, Ruby, and their neighbors be piped into restaurants, movie theaters, and hotel lobbies: Amos ‘n’ Andy impressions and theme parties were the rage.

Meanwhile, African Americans argued passionately among themselves about the program. While one black newspaper gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures demanding that the show be banned, another chose Amos ‘n’ Andy’s white stars as guests of honor at a parade and picnic for the black children of Chicago.”


Excerpt of a review of Melvin Patrick Ely’s book on the phenom of Amos n Andy:




Back in the day, when “honorary blackness” was bestowed it was generally framed as making that white person one of your family. However, its important to note that unlike the Queen of England bestowing knighthood, “honorary blackness” came with no lovely parting gifts. It was usually just something to show how much affection a black character claimed to have for the white character they’d quickly bonded with, and ironically, white writers advanced this propaganda.

So it shouldn’t be any surprise that bestowing honorary blackness is alluded to in The Help. Because there’s a section in the novel where Aibileen tells Skeeter this:



Aibileen relays the message that  Skeeter is now part of the family, AKA bestowing honorary blackness

Aibileen relays the message that
Skeeter is now part of the family, AKA bestowing honorary blackness




Here’s how the scene begins:

We  set there a second, listening to the storm. I think about the first time Miss Skeeter came to my house,. how awkward we was. Now I feel like we family.

“Are you scared Aibileen?” she asks. “Of what might happen?”

I turn so she can’t see my eyes. “I’m alright.”

“Sometimes I don’t know if this was worth it. If something happens to you . . . how am I going to live with that, knowing it was because of me?” She presses her hand over her eyes, like she don’t want to see what’s gone happen.

I go to my bedroom and bring out the package from Reverend Johnson. She take off the paper and stare at the book, all the names signed in it. “I was gone send it to you in New York, but I think you need  to have it now.”

“I don’t . . . understand,” she say. “This for me?”

“Yes ma’am.” Then I pass on Reverend ‘s message, that she is part of our family.  (Page 436)



Aibileen takes it even further (or basically, Kathryn Stockett decided to amp up the Uncle Tom factor, which equated to Aibileen being a “good negro”).

That night I lay in bed thinking I am so happy for Miss Skeeter. She starting her whole life over. Tears run down my temples into my ears, thinking about her walking down them big city avenues I seen on tee-vee with her long hair behind her Part a me wishes I could have a new start too. The cleaning article, that’s new. But I’m not young. My life’s about done. (Page 437)


Stockett lays it on so thick that even before this scene, both Minny and Aibileen try to convince Skeeter not to worry about their well being after their book “HELP” is released. Minny finally snatches the phone from Aibileen, and in true sassy, stereotypical domestic fashion, demands this of Skeeter. “Don’t walk your white butt to New York, run it” (Page 424)


It’s important to note that the novel doesn’t have Aibileen shedding tears over the recent death of her only child. Treelore has been dead about three years when Skeeter finally leaves Jackson.

What’s also interesting to note, is that Skeeter actually hollers at Aibileen in one section of the novel, when not enough maids come on board. And Aibileen has never been invited over Skeeter’s house, not even after Skeeter’s participation in publishing the novel is revealed. So why Aibileen would state “Now I feel like we family” is the affection myth I covered in this post


Houston Chronicle, 1923 article regarding the need for a National Mammy Monument:

Click image for larger view:

Mammy monument  aritcle pg 1

Mammy monument article pg 1




Mammy monument pg 2

Mammy monument pg 2





Mammy monument pg 3

Mammy monument pg 3




Whatever concerned her “white folks” concerned her. If she belonged to them, they in a different-but in her sight not less real, they belonged to her.



Mammy monument pg 4

Mammy monument pg 4




“Her memory will outlive granite and marble and bronze. Though her skin was black, her soul was white.”


OMG. There are no words.



This post is still in development . . .

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