If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, then you know that the show has a history of killing off its already scant black population. So much so that it’s damn near a drinking game. This is a pretty sobering reality, in spite of the awesomeness of the show, because these deaths add to the already bleak situation of the fucking apocalypse.
But you know: ratings. And Rick and Carl Memes. And lusty Daryl Tumblr posts. And Bob. Poor Bob.
All that said though, this mix of stuff sparked a conversation with a friend while chilling on Lake Merritt a while back. We ended up putting a real critical lens on Michonne in particular, trying to figure out how the show could posit this sister as a loner-cum-leader without dealing with any of the particulars of blackness and woman-ness that she undoubtedly has to deal with (among the other black folks on the show).
This then spiraled into a new, more introspective question: would upwardly mobile, bougie black folks make it in the Zombie Apocalypse (ZA)? As much as I’d like to say “yes,” there is compelling evidence that ‘nary a tenth of us would be running around Michonne-style. So, in the spirit of lists, psuedo-maths, and pontification, let’s dive into why your friends, favorite bloggers, podcasters, social media mavens, Instagram philosophers, and some of your brunch-buddies won’t make it:
If you’re even remotely in touch with black culture, you know that black folks love us some hair: from styling it to presenting it, it’s deeply rooted in our identity and history. What’s more, it’s no secret that black hair, no matter how natural of processed, requires a certain amount of….maintenance. This presents a huge survival problem. You can’t throw ya girl Kayla out into the wilderness and expect her to scavenge with the crew for months without access to Shea Moisture, Dark & Lovely, Carol’s Daughter, or even some Pink Lotion hair oil.
Real talk: what’re the odds she becomes lunch for the undead while trying to find some damn coconut oil in the abandoned bodega?
That ain’t no way to live.
On the flip, for all you male-bodied skinfolk out there: how’s the beard gonna stay flourishing in the wastelands? And razor bumps? Ingrown hairs? Listen…black folk are amazing and beautiful. But if we could exchange racial woes, sickle cell and razor bumps would be my first vote. I’m just sayin: I doubt there will be enough Bevel to go around when the shit hits the fan.
Word to Tristan Walker.
Survivability rating: -100
Speaking of bodily care, let’s talk about the one thing no self-respecting black person ever wants to be: ashy. Ashiness, or simply being ashy, is the Bane to our Batman, the Gangbangers to our Ricky, the Michael Eric Dyson to our Cornel West, (the Cornel West to our Michael Eric Dyson, depending on who you ask,) the Ether to our Jay Z, the Beyhive to our mentions, etc.
Sadly, I doubt your local Pan-African store will survive the initial throes of the Apocalypse. Because black folks always die first in horror scenarios, so expect mass casualties in our business sectors too. Brother Muhammed Muhammed, Jr. is not gonna have that black soap and shea butter for you when the zombies start Cupid Shuffling through our cities.
And contrary to popular belief: white folks and our lighter kinfolk get ashy too. But unless you have a skin issue, it’s often not as pronounced as it is on darker skin. All that said, I’m sure Bailey and Carl will be less worried about trying to divine essential oils from acorns and peach pits as Jamal.
I’m. Just. Sayin.
Survivability rating: -100
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s been pretty clear that America has a complex hate/love relationship with black folk. As Paul Mooney said, “everybody wants to be a nigga, but nobody wants to be a nigga.”
This tension—the one between wanting the coolness of blackness without our pesky humanity—is a defining trait of the American experience at large. In addition, it’s one that is always exacerbated by dire circumstances. Thus black folks are at a very particular disadvantage when it comes to the ZA. You’re already not gonna be able to trust muhfuckas out in the wilderness. Shoot—microagressions are bad enough in the workplace. Imagine dealing with them when there’s no HR department or Twitter timeline to vent your frustrations to.
Add in the fact that everybody you’ll meet is out for themselves, and it’ll be mighty hard not suffer from mass racism paranoia out there. Not that it would be without good reason. But it doesn’t help to be mentally fragile before you’ve murked a few men with a rusty Phillips head screwdriver for those cans of Spam.
Survivability rating: -300
Speaking of Twitter: black folks love the Internet. It’s the democratizing canvas upon which we pontificate and find common ground with our skinfolk. We can extoll our own ways, relate to each other, and mplify the plight of those less privileged. We shout out “Yasssssss!” for Melissa Harris-Perry and guiltily watch VH1, debate the revolutionary undertones of Kendrick Lamar’s newest album and criticize hip-hop for its long list of ism’s. All while connecting and finding black folks from around the globe.
But access to the Internet requires electricity. And electricity is probably the first damn thing that’s gonna go when everything goes to shit.
So not only will you not be able to write that thinkpiece, you also won’t be able to dive into the Facebook inbox of your more able bredren for help when you realize the last time you touched a machete was that one trip to the islands to meet your cousins. When you were 5.
Survivability rating: -250
Lack of Survival Skills
Now is the time that you’d wish you’d married that homely brotha from South Carolina who was really good with his hands. Even if he dressed like he was stuck in 2004. For all the ideas, theoretical discussions, degrees, and networking, no one suffers more from the woes of the new age professional than urbanized black folks.
If you refuse to handle meat at the BBQ, I’m talking about you.
If the last time you skinned an animal was in anatomy, I’m talking bout you.
If the sight of blood makes you woozy, I’m talking about you.
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, I am most definitely talking about you.
So, as much as we have roots tied to
involuntarily and forcefully working the land, most of us are quite far removed from the rural and agricultural activities that require hardcore life skills. Especially the ones that involve killing things and knowing which plant will give you the day’s protein and which one will have your face lookin’ like Hitch when he ate that shrimp.
Survivability rating: -200
Honorable Mention: Brunch
Okay, everybody loves brunch. This has been scientifically proven, somewhere. But black people really love brunch. In fact, there are few things more important than brunch in your favorite nascent-bougie black person’s calendar. It’s uncanny. But, you know, it’s not like Le Chateau du Chat is gonna be open during the Apocalypse. In fact, it’ll probably be one of the sites of outbreak because everyone just * had * to have those plantain waffles and jerk fried chicken.
Word to @MissAngelaDavis.
Survivability rating: -50
So, there you have it.
With a total survivability handicap of -1000, most of your Nubian favorites won’t make it. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope, you can still get your Michonne on. Cruise Groupon for discounts on self-defense classes, pitch a butcher’s class to your group text, think about going natural now, join that organic co-op, finally sign up for that farming fellowship Meetup…
Because somebody’s gonna need to be write that transformative 10,000 word essay on the problematic pathologies and PTSD of being black in the Zombie Apocalypse when it’s all said and done.
dap wants to be an enigma, but he’s pretty transparent. A transplant from “Back East,” he found himself in Oakland writing about alla the fun things. He’s in love with the coco(a) (skinned women and butter,) among other things. Find his rants and retweetery @dapisdope