We should have seen it coming. All the signs were there. But they fooled us. Bamboozled us. Led us astray. And now it might be too late.
It started back in 2008, when birthers were so hell-bent on seeing then-Senator Barack Obama’s birth certificate. They said it was to check his citizenship; to prove if he was truly an American citizen. And we fell for it hook line and sinker. Damn truther chicanery.
But what was really happening was far more devious. Far more lecherous. With Obama’s ascension and eventual election came a stark realization. They — and “they” in this sense are “people who don’t happen to be people of color” — could no longer escape the fact that they were beginning to be outnumbered. And outflanked. Nothing drove that point home better than the fact that a jump shooting Tony Dungy doppleganger with a wife from the South Side of Chicago and kids named after Kwanzaa Patch Kids dolls was about to plant his Black ass feet on the White House couch. Eating shrimp and grits and fried plantains in the Oval Office while watching The Wire and Caribbean Rhythms.
So they got creative. They weren’t trying to prove if he was American. They were trying to reclaim him. After 400 or so years of the one drop rule, they finally realized that if they kept allowing us to claim all people with even a teaspoon of African blood as 100% Black, their numbers would continue to dwindle. They wanted to see the birth certificate so they could prove and claim his Whiteness. They wanted to see the receipts. And by “see the receipts” I mean “place him on Team White instead of Team Black.” The benefits of the exclusive Team White Club membership no longer mattered if the Team Black Club got all the towels.
And no one wants to go to a gym with no towels. Cause that’s just nasty.
Of course, it didn’t work with Obama. But that didn’t stop them from continuing to try. They’ve tried (and failed) to claim Mariah Carey. And Derek Jeter. And Blake Griffin. And Rashida Jones. And Jason Kidd. And Wentworth Miller. And Vin Diesel. All people who, even 30 years ago, would have had their cards denied and asses kicked if they even dared entering Team White Club. But now, as part of the Great Reclamation plot, Team White is relaxing their rules and doing all types of desperate membership drives to keep their numbers up. You know how a struggling Planet Fitness might offer a free Gatorade with every new membership to keep the lights on? That’s what Team White is doing; except instead of free Gatorade, they’re offering better credit scores.
They’ve become so good at this game that they almost convinced some actual Black people to allow them to claim writer and activist Shaun King. That King’s Blackness was questioned is beyond absurd. If you are a Black American, there is somewhere between a 100% and a 100% chance that you have at least one cousin who looks exactly like Shaun King. In fact, King could come to my family reunion next month and all anyone would think would be “I guess he’s another one of those cousins we discovered on Facebook in 2013.” And then I’d say “Well, someone tell him to stop inviting me to play Candy Crush before I unfriend him.”
But the Great Reclamation has no rules, no morals, no boundaries. They shift the goalposts, and when you finally go to kick the ball, they pull it away like Lucy from Peanuts. But we’re not going to let them Charlie Brown us. We see them coming now. We’re ready, we’re willing to bang, and we’re not gonna let them take Wesley Lowery or Jesse Williams.