After the Hawks’ triple-overtime victory over the Bruins in the first game of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, I couldn’t help but think of Chris Rock’s Nat X—his dashiki-wearing, super-high-Afro-sporting, black brother mock tv host of the “only 15-minute show on television.” A classic SNL segment. “Why 15 minutes?” Nat X whines at the beginning of one episode, “Because if the Man gave me any more, he’d consider it welfare!” A feature of each installment was his Top 5 List. “Why 5? ‘Cause 10 would make the Man nervous!”
Here’s Nat X’s “Top 5 Reasons Brothers don’t play hockey”:
- Reason #5: It’s cold out there.
- Reason #4: They scared to get their gold tooth knocked out.
- Reason #3: Don’t want to be around white guys with sticks.
- Reason #2: Don’t want to be around a white guy with a mask.
- …and the #1 Reason Black Guys Don’t Play Hockey: Don’t feel the need to dominate yet another sport.
I haven’t been able to locate a video of the actual bit—none of the links I found work—but there is a transcript of the whole thing at http://snltranscripts.jt.org/90/90lnatx.phtml. And here’s a Hulu clip of another episode of Nat X: http://www.hulu.com/#!watch/19311
On the night of the hockey and black guys Top 5, Nat X’s mock guests were Colin Powell (played by Tim Meadows) and Vanilla Ice (Kevin Bacon).
Vanilla Ice: I’m from the streets, man! If it weren’t for rap, I’d probably be in jail, or dead. Word to your mother!
Nat X: [ fuming ] So you’re saying you’re from the streets?
Vanilla Ice: Word to your mother!
Nat X: What street? “Sesame Street”?
Is Colin Powell (or Barack Obama) an authentic black man? Is Vanilla Ice an authentic rapper? “What’s authentic”? It’s one of culture’s most important questions, and it’s fiercely double-edged: grounding our identity, supposedly, but also trapping it for sure. Nat X, says the announcer in the Hulu clip above, “Is so black they counted him four times in the million man march.” But is “4″ the magic number? Why not 5, or 6.5, or 1? Nat X made the best fun of the authenticity game, something not often so fun in the real world, and something harder to determine in a world that’s mixing more and more.
But we were talking about hockey. The Blackhawks. Like Johnny Oduya, the part-Kenyan Swedish hockey player. Like the Afro-Canadian Ray Emery. Surely not as authentic as Nat X, but….
♦ Go to the Teaching Diversity main page.