Silly Monkeys! Part 0: An Abstract
Virtues: ‘Yuh tek man fi fool/joke’, deceit, respect for others
Abstract: One day I was sitting in the offices of my business partners place of employment at an executive school. One of their co-workers who was an older white lady, let’s say in their mid-40’s made an off-color comment, it went something like, “What are you silly monkeys doing”. Now, we are three young black men, and we have an older lady calling us silly monkeys – albeit she said it in a joking context. I had never met the lady before, but I took her comment as someone that was clueless to what that phrase signified to a black person. However, one of my business partner took gross offense to it – which I understood why, but deep down inside I believe that she honestly did not say those words in a racist context.
But the story mentioned above is not what this piece is about, at least not the historical/racist aspect of what ‘silly monkey’, ‘monkey’, or ‘porchmonkey’ means to the black community. I think silly monkey is an interesting concept that can be tied to when one treats another like an idiot; one whom is deceitful, manipulative to another, and they believe that the ‘silly monkey’ has no clue of what they are up to. I always had this concept in my mind, but I could not phrase properly – better yet, I could not phrase in such a sweet, concise catch phrase that captured the essence of the concept.
So thank you, middle-aged white lady who was trying to make a joke and be hip with her peers, you have armed me with a definition that is timeless, transcends races & borders, and describes a daily occurrence that I, and I think a lot of us have to go through – dealing with people that take us for joke.