Too often, producers just want you on their TV or radio show because you are Black, and your Negro-ness becomes your dominant credential. They want you to be the Negro Tour Guide Through The Dark World. I'm on record: while it pays pretty well and gets you some pretty good pats on the head, it is not for me. I am not your Black Explainer: I don't wish to be Professionally Black. No shots. Just saying. I enjoy TMM and other stuff I do because while my Blackness is relevant, it is merely tangential. Frankly, that's the way I try to live my life.
Since Obama got elected, being Black seems to be the only reason I get called, so I don't do a ton of TV or radio anymore, or I do it as it entertains me. I did Al Jazeera recently, for instance. It was fun. To me, that's the only reason to do stuff like that, for me. For fun.
I've been on TV quite a bit -- I did it back when it was difficult to get on. When it paid. Now, if your Moms has a blog, and she's angry enough, she can get on MSNBC. Meh. Also, I'm something like a hard-body but I look fat on TV. So I'm good on that. Radio is almost always fun and involves friends and colleagues, or sometimes, a nemesis. So I almost always oblige.
I did some local radio in Cleveland on The Sound of Ideas at WCPN, the NPR affiliate. I pre-recorded my comments, as I was teaching the next leaders of the world about Black American social radics, classism, hip-hop, Tony Manero and the American Dream. It's still kinda weird for me, over at WCPN. People stop me in the streets to ask me about it, so I'm not telling any tales out of school here.
Talk of The Nation had me on when they were in town to talk Harvey -- because I am, after all the Harvey Pekar Scholar -- but WCPN only ever has me on -- like, 3 times in 5 years -- to talk about being Black (or about TMM, which is almost just tomato, to-MAH-to) -- and it's annoying. -- It's nice that they loaded my voice into the conversation. That's gratifying, in its way. It's hard not to be flattered. However, I hear me, talking about "we," like I'm the King of All Blacks this week, and it makes me wince. I should have been more careful in couching my comments in my personal experiences. Ugh. I'm hoping that now that I'm a little more grounded in-town, WCPN and I will do something that doesn't have anything to do with my black maleness.
Because, while I'm proud to be Black and male, being Black is probably the least interesting thing about me. My maleness? Well. Some find my maleness quite interesting, I am told.