Note: Things have changed. I'm no longer writing at AOL-Huff Po Black Voices. Long story. I'll tell it one day, maybe. Let me just say that I used to be a big Arianna Huffington fan. Today, not so much. But I wish everyone over there the best. On to the next one as it's said. My contract was voided on Tuesday and on Thursday my first post on Washington Post's www.TheRoot.com was published. Turning lemons into lemonade. The show continues. Enjoy.
Years ago, a rumor circulated that the recipes of a popular restaurant chain contained a secret birth control agent that sterilized black men. The KKK was alleged to have masterminded the operation. They named the restaurant Church's, after the most revered institution in the black community, and they specialized in fried chicken. If true, it was brilliant and racist at the same time.
Even as speculation about the nefarious plot caught fire like a burning cross, black men continued to eat the diabolically delicious chicken. Yet the African-American birthrate stayed right on schedule. So much for any truth to the sperm-killing three-piece dinners. While we're at it, let's go ahead and also debunk any lingering conspiracy theories about syphilis-injected buttery biscuits.
The point? Sometimes misinformation will auto-correct in the public mind, as with the myth of the racist chicken proprietors. But sometimes it won't. Our fascination with the down-low brother is a prime example. To dismiss him as an urban legend would be to refute the facts of his existence, but it's certainly reasonable and, frankly, responsible to relegate him to an urban exaggeration.