I recently told a friend of mine that my mom hates being late for anything related to business. My friend's response was "Your mom doesn't do CP Time? That's because she's part white!" In my friends opinion, my mom's business ethic that has her always be punctual is due to the fact that she's of mixed decent. I couldn't believe that a college educated person would believe something like that. The last time I checked, there was no "tardy" gene that only occured in black people's DNA. So it got me wondering... is "Colored People's Time" a myth, or a something that black people have made a fact of life?
"CP Time" (Colored Peoples' Time), is a term attributed to the belief that people of color operate on their own sense of time, which doesn't adhere to the clock. The generalization that black people are fated to be tardy sounds like a pretty lame stereotype. Yet, I have to admit, when I do business with African American people, it rarely EVER starts on time. I know that tardiness can happen to anybody, but it has become so thoroughly engrained into African American culture that we often use the term amongst ourselves. And we use it as an excuse for not being timely as well. So is it a myth? Or has CPT become a fact of life?
I asked my followers on Twitter if they believe CPT is a fact or a myth. Some of their responses were really surprising.
Colored People's Time, CP Time, or CPT, is actually a commonly used American expression that refers to the stereotype of African Americans or Latinos frequently being late. Aside from the obvious problems with using the word "Colored" in the 21st century, CPT is not inherently a negative thing. Its actually an inside joke, because many people of color use the term themselves, making light of when they're late. I just can't help but wonder if the joke has been taken too far.
I asked some of my non-black friends if they've ever heard of CP Time. Here are a few of their responses:
"I've heard of it, but I figured its one of those things I can't talk about, like the n-bomb. A lot of my black friends are tardy asses, but so am I, and I'm 100% Russian. Being prompt is for government employees. LOL."
"My co-worker is a black girl and she's always at work earlier than everybody. She comes early to organize her station for the clients she has that day. However, her black clients are always late. I mean always, Nikki. And they get mad when they show up and somebody else is in her chair."
"I broke up with my ex-boyfriend 'cause he tried to use CP Time as his excuse for never being punctual. He wasn't late because he is Black. He was late because he is a stoner."
"I have never heard of CPT, but honestly, Nikki, you are my only black friend that shows up to stuff on time. I'm sorry, but it is true. But then again, none of my Japanese friends or family are ever punctual, either."
Personally, in my experiences doing business with people who are not African American, if the person who I'm doing business with is late, he or she tends to be very apologetic and will typically compensate me in some way for my loss of time. However, when working with people of my own race, there is supposed to be an unspoken understanding when it comes to tardiness.
For example: Before rehearsals of the choreography for my video shoot started, I asked my background dancers to promise that they wouldn't be late to rehearsals because I was renting the dance studios. I told them if they were late, they'd be docked $5 for every 15 minutes. They agreed. And on the first day of rehearsals, ALL of them were at least 15 minutes late. Of the subsequent 6 rehearsals, at least 2 dancers were late to each of them. I was late once. Because I had to pay for the sound equipment for the shoot. All of my dancers are biracial, mixed with black and white (except for Lauren.) Each time, they had a great reason (excuse) why they weren't punctual, but it didn't piss me off any less. So... should I have been pissed at them as African Americans... or just pissed at their lack of respect for my time? Thats what its really about. CP Time is, in my opinion, just an another convenient excuse that people use when keeping their word doesn't fit into their agenda.
Here's what some of my Facebook friends had to say about the matter:
I must admit, I've grown to accept tardiness in my dealings with black people. But as a person who is NOT typically late to my appointments, when I do show up tardy, is my lack of timeliness attributed to my race? Thats when I wonder if the stereotype is harmful. If CPT equals "She's black. She'll be late" then how can I ever be taken seriously in business? When is disregarding another person's schedule acceptable? Its funny how stereotypes conveniently transform themselves into acceptable social norms. CPT is NOT acceptable to me. And, to be honest, when I hear friends of mine say "See, that's why you shouldn't do business with black people" it really upsets me. If everybody thought that way, then my mom, a successful black business owner, would be losing out on opportunities that she deserves. Tardiness doesn't have a color. Its not a genetic trait. Consistent tardiness is a personality defect. It makes your friends avoid making plans with you. And if you're working with me, it'll get your late ass fired.
Please comment on this post. I'd like to know your thoughts on this topic.