I have confessed to lots of things over the past several years, from knowing the lyrics to most of the songs from the movie Grease to getting manicures.
I can't defend knowing those songs. I learned them while watching the film in a moment of weakness as a nerd kid, back in the day...before I became cooler than the other side of the pillow.
The manicures? I stand by 'em. My grandfather, James Sr., once told me that there's two things a man must keep consistent about his appearance if he wants to convince women he's got class: clean, smooth fingernails, and well-polished shoes.
But I digress. My third confession is that I watch those Real Housewives shows...all of 'em.
I know. It's shameful, but I have watched every episode of Real Housewives of Orange County, Real Housewives of New York, Real Housewives of Atlanta, and now Real Housewives of New Jersey.
And I must say that this television franchise has convinced me of what I always suspected: that money gives people class and character.
Psyche! I'm kidding. The people displayed on these shows are about as classy as one of those tuxedo T-shirts. And my puppy has left more character in tightly coiled piles of lawn sausage in my backyard. I watch because it's like glancing at a car wreck as you drive by on the freeway: hard to resist.
But on a serious note, in the season finale of the New Jersey series Tuesday night, the female stars of the show got into shouting matches over who leaked to the public a book that revealed one of them had once been a cocaine-loving stripper, with prostitutish tendencies.
In the course of the argument, as they all swore in so much that their young daughters blushed in apparent shame, one of the women knocked over dishes, flipped over a table, and threatened physical harm to the subject of the salacious book...who probably deserved it. But that's not the point!
After things calmed down, the table flipper dismissed her behavior by shrugging and explaining "I'm Italian...." Her sister-in-law chimed in later that the tantrum was the result of the table-flipper's "hot Italian temper."
And that was that.
I know that this is just a dumb TV show, but it is popular on the entertainment culture landscape. So I have a major problem with that sort of cop out.
If I drop-kicked my annoying neighbor from three doors down - the one who has a perfectly manicured lawn and well-kept house but arrives home from work every evening blasting Freebird from his pick-up truck, sometimes shouting "Git 'er done!" - and then casually shrugged it off with "I'm African American," or "it's my hot black temper," I'd get blasted in the court of public opinion.
Even worse, and more accurate to the example from this TV show, what if I blamed my temper tantrums on being "African" - not "African American," but "African?"
You guys would never let me hear the end of it. I'd be slapped with reminders that folks born in this country should acknowledge and even embrace their ethnicities, but if they're born here they're American, yada yada yada.
And don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. What gives with this type of hypocrisy?
I have my thoughts, but I'm gonna save 'em for when we re-start our occasional blog series "Real Talk About Race." If you'd like to catch up on old installments of that series go here, here, here, and here.
Otherwise, skip the first four chapters, and we'll kick off the next installment on Monday.
Till then, follow me at http://twitter.com/jamesburnett. And if you read books or pretend that you do, you can befriend me at http://shelfari.com/jamesburnett. It's sort of a Facebook for readers. I just joined a couple days ago, so I haven't had time to add my whole library - just three books. More to come.