Have you ever heard of the phrase CP time, or Colored People’s Time? If you haven’t you’re in the right place, and if you have you’re still in the right place. In this piece, NewsOne will break down the infamous ‘Colored People’s Time’ stereotype and try to better understand its origins, its impact and finally debunk this silly notion that Black people can’t be on time.
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Stereotypes are all around us, but many of them can perpetuate harmful biases and have lasting effects on people’s lives. Britannica defines a stereotype as an often unfair and untrue belief that many people have about all people or things with a particular characteristic. But how does a stereotype even form?
Some scientists believe that when humans repeatedly pass social information to one another, it can result in the formation of cultural stereotypes. When our minds categorize information, it creates mental shortcuts that associate certain things with certain behaviors. The human brain has a lot to do and this allows humans to retain more information using minimal mental effort. But the problem is that some of these stereotypes have been indoctrinated into everyday life, but disguised as the truth. One of those fake truths is CP Time or Colored People’s Time.
What is CP Time?
CP Time is an American stereotype that refers to Black people frequently being late. It derives from slavery and the Antebellum South. White slave owners often used physiological warfare against their slaves calling them lazy and unreliable. The expression stuck and was eventually commonly used in Black culture spaces, sometimes even to describe one’s self.
In the December 1972 edition of Black World Magazine, created by Johnson Publishing, Ronald Walcott wrote this about CP Time:
CP time is usually spoken of in tones of the profoundest dismay (by Blacks who lament their brothers’ “irresponsibility that will hold us all back”) or of outraged complacency (by whites who see this habitual lateness as yet further instance of our don’t-give-a-damn-attitude, “but really, what can you expect?”) or of amused tolerance (by the rest of us who are so accustomed to it we hardly notice it.”
CP Time actually is an example of Black people’s effort to evade, frustrate and ridicule the value-reinforcing strictures of punctuality that so well serve this coldly impersonal technological society.
As Walcott explains, during the 70s Blacks were fighting for civil rights and actually used the term as a form of rebelling against the establishment.
Debunking the stereotype
The phrase would continue to dig itself into the culture until it became a norm to use the expression CP time. But just like any other stereotype, it can create lasting consequences, including limiting opportunities in the workplace and eroding trust and respect in personal relationships. Stereotypes heavily influence how we think. If people believe you are always late because you are Black, they will naturally start to think other Black people are also always late. This can influence how your boss or colleagues view you, which could perpetuate inequality in the workplace. Relationships can also be affected by stereotypes if not communicated properly.
Black people are not late by nature. In fact, there are a lot of factors to consider when trying to figure out why some people are less punctual than others. Recurring lateness can be linked to mental health, or just someone’s personality. Sonia Zaman, a psychotherapist specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR, says different types of personalities tend to be less punctual than others.
“Some people are just natural born optimists who genuinely believe they can manage everything in their hectic schedules – we can call them the over-schedulers,” said Somia. “But their tendency to pack too much into each day means they are always going to be running late for something. And if these optimists are also gregarious, chatty types, then their meetings, appointments, coffees, lunches, etc are even more likely to over-run, guaranteeing they will be late for their next commitment.”
The next time you are about to call someone tardy, just make sure you do it based on their personality and not their skin color. CP Time can sometimes be funny and in good humor, but it’s something that is just not true and frankly kinda annoying to hear since I wake up at 5:30 every morning. I declare CP Time officially debunked.
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Breaking Down The Stereotype: Colored People’s Time Or CP Time was originally published on newsone.com
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