What I call the Wigger Fallacy is the idea that being black in America is a matter of culture, of how you talk and act and think and dress. It is the mistake that wiggers make, who are white but try to act black.
It is a fallacy because what makes you black is nothing like that. It is how white people act towards you because of how you look. Ask any black person who grew up in white suburbia listening to rock music and speaking perfect White English.
It is this fallacy that seems to lie behind the spread of the idea that Bill Clinton was the first black president. Or that Barack Obama – and the black middle-class in general – is “not black enough”.
The fallacy is rooted in a confusion between race and culture. Yes, Black America does have a culture of its own that is noticeably different from mainstream America. But that culture is a side effect of being black, not the cause of what makes people black.
The cause is racism: if you do not look white, then whites will not fully accept you as one of their own. Not even if you talk white and dress white and act white and think white and listen to white music. Not even if you die in some foreign land defending the country.
Not only do blacks who grew up in white suburbia know this, but so do Korean adoptees. Since the 1950s Korea has sent more than 100,000 babies to America. Most were brought up by white parents in white towns. They grew up white, knowing few if any Koreans, and yet they are not fully accepted either. Because of how they look. It has nothing to do with culture or money or education. It has to do with race.
The Wigger Fallacy lies behind the phrases “not black enough” and “acting white” – that the key to being black (or white) comes down to how you act or think, that it comes from your values, your “background”.
But the truth is you are just as black whether you grew up in the ghetto or suburbia, whether you listen to rap or rock or both, whether you are Afrocentric or not. And, for the very same reason, no amount of acting white can ever make you white.
Both blacks and whites want you to act a certain way. Not all of them, but enough of them. They make you think that it is some golden road to being acceptable. But if you are not being yourself, how can that be acceptable? And will you ever be truly happy? And what lies at the end of their road?
What makes you “truly black” is living in a black skin in a white country, one that is still racist. The black experience, as they say. It is being yourself in a country that will never fully accept you for who you are.