Five Ways Babies Are Basically Tiny Hoteps

Damon Young

1. They always #staywoke…like, literally

Pictured above is my three month old daughter. That photo was taken by my cousin while she was visiting us last weekend, and I'm certain she took it some time between 7pm and 10pm. Because that's when she was visiting us.

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But, if my cousin happened to visit us at 3am or 5:22am or 6:51am or 2:14am she could have taken the exact same picture. Because my daughter has no concept of when human beings are supposed to sleep, and she's just as likely to be awake at 4am — laughing, burping, crying, and punching me with her tiny fists — as 4pm. Although she sleeps like 16 hours a day, she somehow also manages to #staywoke. All the fucking time. Which makes her more hotep than even the most hotepiest hotep.

2. They enjoy simple rhymes, even if said rhymes make absolutely no sense

Last week, as a rebuttal to Amber Rose's assertion that sexual consent is always necessary, regardless of how a woman happens to be dressed, transubstantiated Facebook meme Run Rev said "Dress how you want to be addressed." Which was, all things considered, perhaps the hotepiest statement ever. At the very least, it would be a first ballot entry in the Hotepian Statement Hall of Fame. It was succinct, it rhymed, it felt 18,000 times wittier and more insightful that it actually was, it was completely out of context and remarkably myopic, and it was spoken by someone wearing a hat.

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Last night, while attempting to put my daughter to sleep, I said "Hey little girl. Dress how you want to be addressed" five times in a row. I even attached an interpretive dance to it. She smiled and laughed. And then threw up. And then went to sleep.

(Also, I've learned that babies give no fucks about understanding feminism, just like hoteps. I once tried to explain the concept of intersectionality to her, and how it relates to social justice and digital activism, but all she did was look at the wall and fart.)

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3. Their worldview is limited to what's 10 feet in front of them

One of my favorite games to play with my daughter is an adjusted version of peekaboo where I hide behind her baby swing while she's sitting in it. For the five seconds I'm behind the swing, I cease to exist. But then, as soon as I'm back in front of her, I exist to her again.

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This isn't much different than the world views possessed by our favorite hoteps, who get the information crafting and cultivating these world views from porn message boards, documentaries filmed in barbershop kitchens, and Lord Jamar.

4. They have no empathy

Perhaps the most disturbing (and dangerous) aspect of hotepian logic is how the reservoir of empathy they possess for Blackness compares to the raindrop of empathy possessed for Black women. And Black queer people. And Black people who might not agree with their thinking. Because, apparently, the only Black people worth caring about are building empires while the rest of us just watch Empire.

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My daughter also possesses this empathy void. Every night, we beg her to sleep through the night. And, every night, she looks right past us. As if what we're asking means nothing to her. As if she couldn't care less about our feelings. Our hopes. Our dreams. Our off-kilter motor skills that come as a result of prolonged sleep deprivation.

Because she doesn't.

5. They really need our help

Although my daughter is growing, learning, and getting smarter by the day, occasionally she'll do something to remind me that, for the first year of her life, "parenting" is basically "preventing her from injuring and/or murdering herself."

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For instance, while we were sitting on the couch last week — well, I was sitting and she was awkwardly planking on a boppy — I got up to get some peanuts. On the way back, she'd managed to slide off the boppy and was a millisecond away from rolling off the couch before I grabbed her. Before then, I had no idea that "rolling" was a thing she knew how to do. Now I know.

Anyway, as I stood there, honey roasted peanuts in one hand and an almost self-murdered daughter in the other, I couldn't help but think of how much help hoteps need to survive too. We, with our logic and nuance and understanding of history and politics and two button suits, like to make fun of them for not being as worldly as they think they are. But we need to continue to educate, involve, and hug them too. Because without that attention, we might go to the kitchen — thinking everything's alright — only to return with them faceplanted on the floor too.

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About the author

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB and a columnist for GQ.com. His debut memoir in essays, What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins), is available for preorder.