Friday, October 3, 2008

A Different World (part 1 of 2)

This week, our dusky do-gooder ponders his potential mixed-race progeny and the difficulties of being a black parent.

Eet’s … eet’s …

... anotha pair of baby booties! How nice. Throw these on the pile, Akwasi.

What are we goeeng to do weeth aull these booties, dear?

ake finga puppets or sometheeng. Jast smile and pretend to be grateful.

At the snack table

So, Beau, are you and Mandy next in line to have kids?

Pssssht ... don't make me spit out my sheet cake, Jared. Could you imagine me ... a dad?

Besides, Mandy’s ancestors didn’t immigrate to the U.S. until after slavery. Our gene pools haven’t crossed since the dawn of man. We'd probably conceive some sort of mutant.

But your babies would be so beautiful … that’s what they say about mixed kids, right?

Beautiful and culturally confused. Regardless, I’m going to raise my kids so that they have a solid conception of what it means to be black in America.

What does it mean to be black in America, Beau?

I can tell you what it doesn’t mean: standing around an overpriced high-rise apartment overlooking several blocks of slum rental properties, eating pistachios and unwrapping packs of Huggies.

My kids are going to be guerrillas, flipping over the mattress of complacent consumer society and exposing the vile, maggot-infested moral underbelly lying beneath it.

Man! Why’d you have to go and say “maggot?” Now my appetite is ruined.

I think I’ll go flush a few dollar bills down the toilet instead of donating them to a worthy charity. That always makes me feel a little better.


Too bad there’s no public restroom around … I tell ya, Beau, there’s no feeling like looking a men’s room-squatting hobo dead in his eye as you empty your entire wallet into a public commode.


Well, I guess the feeling you get feeding your money clip to a raging hobo fire on a bitterly cold January evening comes close, but there’s something about the toilet water jets that gets me every time …

You’re a sick man, Jared.

… every time …

Beau's ruminations

Octus, Mulatia, you’ll be entering your senior year next fall. It’s about time to start thinking about college.

Do you two have any ideas about what you want to study?

Yes, Mom and Pop. I plan to pursue a course on the African American Diaspora, investigating cultural figures on the pale side of the spectrum—specifically, blacks that can pass for white, like myself.

Very interesting, Octus.

I’ve already come up with a title for my senior-year thesis: “White After Labor Day: When Passing Doesn’t Pass—The Faux Pas of the Half-White Experience.”

I plan to roll that over into a memoir and make millions.

Well, can’t say the boy doesn’t have ambitions. How about you, Mulatia?

I plan to pursue a course in Gender Studies, examining how black actresses from Hattie McDaniel to Alfre Woodard have been masculinized by Hollywood’s framing of femininity as inherently white.


My thesis will be entitled “Mama’s Gender, Papa’s Member: Growing Up Between the Color Line and the Clitoris.”

Once the rights are sold to a major Hollywood studio, we’ll cast Raven Simone to play the female lead.

Well, she’s certainly all woman.

How about schools, kids? Any idea where you want to apply?

The usual suspects—Yale, Harvard, Princeton, maybe Duke.

With Indiana University and UNC as reliable backups.

Go Hoosiers!

Have you two considered any HBCU’s?

“HBC,” what?

Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Ewww, Daddy. Gross!

Yeah, come on, Pop. What do you think, we want to live in mold-infested dormitories, eating fried chicken at the caf’ six days a week?

I’ll have you know that both of my parents—your grandparents—attended an HBCU.

And your mother’s parents, well … they probably tried to burn down an HBCU at some point.

“HBC,” what?

The point is that these schools are an indelible part of our national heritage and are educational environments where you’ll be able to focus on academics rather than on whether you’ll be able to fit in socially.

Perhaps, Daddy. But HBCU’s have a stigma of being, well, 2nd-rate schools.

What about BOOTI in Chicago?

BOOTI? Never heard of it.

Oh, is that the school named after that guy …

Yep. The Barack Obama Occidental Technical Institute. It’s a pretty new college, but what it lacks in institutional credentials, it makes up for in street cred.

Barack Obama? Who’s that?

Obama led an unsuccessful, though inspirational bid for the U.S. presidency back when your father and I were dating.

You know how gas is $18 a gallon now?


And how global warming has made all regions south of Tennessee uninhabitable for the majority of the summer?


How the phrase “to put a Palin in office” has become synonymous with totally screwing something up, “crashing and burning,” and, seemingly incongruously, impregnating a pit bull?

Uh, huh.

Obama was the guy who tried to prevent all that.

Whatever happened to this Obama guy?

Last I heard, he was managing a Dunkin’ Doughnuts somewhere off the Capital Beltway.

Grab your passports kids! We’re about to cross the Texas border.

Beau! We forgot to apply for visas!

No, Mom. You only need a visa if you’re traveling to Mexico. All you need’s a passport to get into the U.S..

Oh, right. Well, let’s not forget about the toll.

Right. Anyone have a three-dollar bill?

Here you go, Daddy.

Thanks, Mulatia. … a crisp, new George W. Bush note ... Never thought I’d see his face on money.

What’s Bush’s story, Pop?

George W.? He was responsible for instituting socialism in the United States.

And for pulling off an unprecedented $700 billion heist for himself and his cronies before leaving office.

Several miles north

Well, kids, here we are: the south side of Chicago.

And right outside the campus of the Barack Obama Occidental Technical Institute, standing in the shadow of old steel mills.

Damn, they still haven’t torn down those old buildings?

Very nice, Mom and Pop. Can we leave now?

No! Go explore!

We’ll be waiting in the car … with the doors locked.

And try not to get mugged; you know how these broke-ass Americans can be.

Let’s roll, Octus. The quicker we stroll through campus, the sooner we can leave.

To be continued ...


Shawna said...

You know, I used to always take pride in being one of those "beautiful mixed kids" when I lived in Arkansas. Then I came to IU and someone called me a half-breed in the same context. That's when I realized what a lot of people really think when they jump on the fact that you're "mixed."

Anywho, this had me roflmao. It didn't take a turn I didn't like/feel horrified by. Best yet.

Jackson Brown said...

daaaang. thanks. :D

mark mclawhorn said...

i'll admit it

i'm gettin scared

Jackson Brown said...

dang, this next strip is going to have to deliver ... the build-up has got me excited.

Vanessa said...

"Mama's Gender, Papa's Member," hahahahahaha! Dude, this is brilliant.

Jackson Brown said...

:-) Thanks.

Nothing punches up a comic like an obscure Hortense Spillers reference.