Black or … Black-ish?

Lafe Tolliver

By Lafe Tolliver, Esq
Guest Column

With dubious credits to the political imposter, George Santos, the issue of being “ish” with one’s cultural and historical heritage has made its rounds in the talk show forums.

Rep. Santos, in his effort to win voters in his Long Island district, boasted of being a Jew, but when confronted with factual information that he was not, defaulted to saying that he meant to say he was “Jew-“ish” since he associated with Jews and identified with their historical plight and culture.

Of course, the outcry from the Jewish community was rightfully loud and scornful of a usurper trying to pimp off their history in order to win an election.

Without morals or any conscience, George Santos stuck with his “Jew-ish” roots until he was found out to be a scoundrel of the first order and has been barred from attending any Jewish functions.

As to what will happen to his scurrilous lies, multiple investigations are underway by various agencies to discern who really is this George Santos personality and from where in fact did his sudden wealth materialize.

When I think of the outrage that his comments caused about the use of that hyphenated word, “Jew-“ish”, I remember the sitcom called “Black-“ish” that had a successful television run for several years.

That sitcom created by a Black person and with many of the scripts written by Black writers created an upper middle class Black family living in white suburbia and trying to both maintain their “Blackness” but yet trying to meld into their surrounding community.

You know, trying to mix oil and water. They are both in the same container but still maintain their own distinctive characteristics and way of circumventing the American landscape which is still either indifferent or hostile to all things, Black.

The sitcom had some really positive portrayals of Black people living the “good life” and some that were exposures of the macro and micro aggressions that still plague this society.

Most of the comic relief, to me, was done by the parents of the father of the household. They were the safety nets and ballast that provided needed balance to the kids of the sometimes clueless parents.

There were times I chuckled at the wisdom of the parents given to their child, the father; and to the sometimes absent-minded doctor daughter-in-law, Rainbow.

Thankfully, the writers, understanding that the show had to be “funny” in order to draw the viewing audience back again and again for subsequent episodes, were both hot and cold in depicting Black life in America.

In some of the episodes, it was painful showing that Black life, no matter how insulated, had to interface with the larger white community and some of those interactions were true to form and others were “loopy and dopey.”

To better ascertain where you, the reader, stands on the issue of being Black and/or being Black-“ish” answering the following scenarios with a B for Black and a B- standing being Black-“ish”at the end of each question.



Going to white museums at the near exclusion of Black exhibits_______

Wearing a Black Lives Matter! Sweatshirt to the grocery store_________

Boys or Men letting their pants drop way past their waistline__________

Afraid to go out in public with your hair in twisties___________

Having a collection of classical music but no Miles Davis________

Voting Republican________

Seeking out a white church to attend __________

Giving your kids with names that have a hyphen in it________

Celebrating Kwanzaa________

Knowing how to use several forks at a dinner table______

Carrying a Gucci bag__________

Knowing at least one verse to the Black National Anthem_______

Driving out of your way to support a Black business___________

Thinking that Elvis Pressley was a great entertainer___________

Vacation choice is either Ghana or Rome_________

Embarrassed to be seen eating watermelon in public____

You can name at least five all Black colleges_______

Straightened hair is all you will be seen in_____________

You eat Bar-be-Que with a fork and knife__________

You get nervous in a large crowd of Black people________

Have seen videos of Stephin Fetchit_______

You celebrate July 4th as if it were your freedom day____

At the malls, you are wary of eating in the food courts_______

Well, the above is your test. If want to get the answers to the above questions, simply send me a non-traceable money order for $19.32 (includes handling and shipping) and I will give you the directions to meet me at a local park bench to exchange your money order for the answers.

Contact Lafe Tolliver at