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Black History Month: Let’s Discuss BP/CP Time!

A few weeks ago, I attended the ribbon cutting for Rosedale.  There were many notables who gave short speeches, but one of the ones that stuck out to me the most was Tuscaloosa County Commissioner Bobby Miller.

Bobby Miller is not a very large man in stature.  In fact, he could be considered quite small.  When spoken to, he always has a smile and will often go on to ask you who your people are, from where you’ve come, where you work, etc., seemingly looking for a way to find common ground. I’ve spoken with him numerous times while playing in his yard on various holidays…. Yes, as an adult. Don’t judge me!  It’s his fault for putting out such nice exhibits every holiday; and when I say every holiday, I mean EVERY HOLIDAY: Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Thanksgiving, (I’m not sure about the 4th of July because I’m usually somewhere grilling), pretty much every major holiday.

Anyway, Commissioner Miller talked about growing up in Rosedale and how when “the white flight” (his words, not mine) began, his mother said she would not leave and stayed right there in Rosedale. While his stories gave me a sense of warmth, that one phrase has remained in my mind for several weeks.

“The White Flight” is a term used when an area of previously mixed inhabitants is vacated by the whites to live in more predominantly white areas. Now, while Mr. Miller didn’t mean anything derogatory in his statement, it caused me to think of other racially divisive terms that are used to describe some common practices, and one of the ones that stands out the most to me is BP/CP time.

BP/CP (Black People or Colored People) time is the extra 30 minutes to an hour that we give ourselves to be at a planned event after the set time that the event is to start.  When I first heard the term as a child, I didn’t quite understand it.  I wondered how black people were allowed to have a totally different system of time than everyone else.  As I got older and started being late for everything, I found the term to be funny.  Once I became even older and tired of missing out, I saw the term as shameful. Then, when I heard it used by a person who was not black, it became insulting.

I heard a joke once that God was distributing characteristics of each ethnicity.  The joke says that God placed a selection before men and told them to choose which ones they wanted.  He asked the white man which nose he wanted, and he pointed out the slender, pointed one.  When asked, the Asian man chose the smaller, less pointy nose.  The black man took the wider, rounder nose. This process went on for most body parts, and the hair was left for last.  The joke says that the white man chose straight, blond hair.  The Asian chose straight black hair. When it was the black man’s turn to select his hair, he hollered up to God, “I don’t care. Just ball up whatever’s left and throw it to me.” Supposedly, that’s how we ended up with kinky hair. When I first heard the joke, it was funny to me. But the more I educated myself, the more I realized that most black people actually don’t have coarse hair. And the more I analyzed the joke, the humor of it eased away. For starters, it indicates that we are lazy and that we are always last.

It’s one thing for others to count us last, but it’s something entirely different when we CHOOSE to be late. There are some instances where unforeseen circumstances can put a person behind schedule but it’s something of a different animal when we place a mental delay on a particular start time and then to have that become so common place that a name (BP/CP) is attached to it and that people have not only begun to identify our arrivals according to it but also that we cost each other more money because of it.  Just recently, I was planning a 2-hour party, and someone with whom I was discussing ideas made the statement, “You might want to make that 3 hours. Some people aren’t going to come on time.”  My initial thought was that those people would just miss out. Then, I thought about how often I’m late and decided to change it to 3 hours with the resolve that I am going to make a conscious effort to be more timely.

This February, let’s all make the decision to be on time for all engagements. Let’s start with this month alone before moving to next month and make BP/CP time a part of black HISTORY!

 

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