Don’t get me wrong. I love myself. I love my skin tone, I love my complexion, I love my shape, and I even love how oily my face is sometimes because it keeps my skin from developing wrinkles prematurely (it also causes my glasses to slide off my face from time to time, but it’s like, “Vision? or youthful looking skin?”… I rest my case).
In fact, judging by the number of selfies on my phone at the moment, I can vouch for my strong sense of self love. Which is a lot more than what other people can say about themselves.
No, my aesthetics aren’t the issue.
That’s not what makes me hesitant to openly express pride in my “blackness.”
My delay comes from what it stereotypically means to be “black” in this society. It comes from the overall belief system that blacks are easily agitated, spiteful towards whites, ignorant of their own prejudices, and overzealous believers in the Christian faith. Although I do not openly condemn Christianity (or any religion) itself, I do, in fact, criticize a certain demographic of followers who use their faith as an excuse to belittle a specific population to sub-human status.
Let me explain.
Being “black” isn’t just about the color your skin. It’s also the collective connotations often associated with pronouncing one’s blackness. A lot of these connotations are degrading, harmful stereotypes. So while some of these stereotypes can are proven truthful in relation various individuals of the population, not ALL black people exemplify every single stereotype ALL the time.
But the problems stem from the constant application of these stereotypes to the entire entity of blacks. People avoid blacks by crossing to the opposite side of streets. They feel threatened, so they shoot first, before a black individual has a chance to respond. They target black churches because they are safe spaces deemed sacred to black communities. Non-black men approach black women more aggressively. Light skinned people feel free to reach, touch, and grab a black person’s hair without obtaining permission first. A majority of men in prison are black. Young black females are often viewed as single mothers first, independent and educated maybe second or third. Black youth are often punished more severely than their lighter skinned peers. Black youths are also viewed as black adults and are often tried as such.
All of these occurrences stem from the socialistic dehumanization process of racial stereotyping.
Most black people are well versed in this struggle.
Not all, but I will say at least 75%… A fairly decent majority.
This is not the reason why I’m so hesitant to claim my blackness either. I’m actually proud of our history and how far we’ve come, despite all of the setbacks our ancestors had to face. I’m proud that we haven’t given up on the fight for racial equality. I don’t mind it when non-black people get angry when we talk about the topics associated with racism. Plus, people can look at me and tell I’m black. There’s no need for me to yell it from the rooftops.
My misgivings actually stem from my own personal experiences with other blacks that reveal to me their own lack of education, critical thinking, and objectivity when it comes to racial equality in society… Or just equality in general.
I will be the first to say I am quite judgmental. I don’t deny that. I will judge a person from the top of their hairline, to the shoes on their feet, to the fit of their clothes. Hands down. I admit it. Everyone does it.
I will not let those superficial judgements dictate how I respond to people. It doesn’t matter the race, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or hairline, because I know people are meant to be different.
Some black people don’t know that. Even the most “woke” black person, will still cast judgement based on superficial attributes, and they won’t understand how ignorant they come out to be. They will miss the similarities between them and the same white people they are accusing of being racists. They are just as volatile, close-minded, asking for an education as white people are when they pop up on pro-black forums.
The worst part is that they don’t see the disconnect and their own prejudices.
Here’s an example, and I’m literally ripping this right from a public Facebook page that supposedly supports the education and progression of blacks.
It’s pretty straight forward. This post is an anti-LGBTQA meme that expresses inconsiderate contempt for a fellow minority population. It has nothing to do with the progression of blacks as a people. It doesn’t educate anyone. It doesn’t even try to pass off as anything valid. In fact, it’s condescending, homophobic, and preaches intolerance. This is very obvious. BUT… The comments section wasn’t any better. In fact, most of the comments express an equal level of ignorance. Some of them even reached a level of violence that it a very legitimate threat to members of the LGBTQA community.
I have read comments like these over and over again on various posts and forums. These comments reflect the exact same ideology white people use to deflect and undermine people of color when confronted with issues of race. My issues with this stem from the fact that they aren’t even aware that they are using the same tactics that anger them when white people try to diffuse the conversation of race. Now, there are a variety of these conversational strategies used in these situations, but there are four that are employed in almost every conversation I’ve experienced. Here they are:
- It’s Just What I Believe:
- Okay, cool, but just because you believe it doesn’t make you crappy, judgmental person in the process. It’s the same defense when a white person states that white people should be with other white people. It’s just what they believe, BUT it doesn’t stop people of color calling the white person out on being a racist and having racial prejudices. That white person, not matter what they believe, is still a crappy person for being blatantly racist. Just because the tables have turned, and the topic at hand is homosexuality, doesn’t make you, a person of color, any less crappier than that white person who is blatantly racist. Purposefully belittling and ostracizing a fragment of the population based on belief, not science, not because that population is actually hurting and being crappy people too, makes you just as awful of a person.
- Technically Speaking:
- This is the worst deflection tactic by far for me because it relies on being ignorant towards the societal connotations of a word, and stripping away its meaning by only acknowledging the basic definition of the word. In the comments above, you can see people claiming to not be homophobic because they aren’t “scared” of homosexuals, they are just disapproving of their “chosen” lifestyle. They don’t make the association that by disapproving, rejecting, and actively combating other healthy, consensual, sexual lifestyles outside of the hetero-normative ideal, they are clearly expressing varying factors that contribute to the overall societal definition of homophobia. That’s why the definition encompasses not just the fear of the LGBTQA community, but also the dislike and prejudice of said community. This is the same logic that non people of color use to deflect their racist beliefs and claim to not be racist themselves. For example, a white person will claim that they’re not racist because they have a friend who happens to be a person of color or they’ll be like, “I love (insert specific race) people.” What they fail to do recognize is that the one friend, or that one statement, doesn’t dismiss their inherent racism. I have seen a lot of white people say they aren’t racist, but then turn around and make a racist statement as either a joke, or a gesture that is an accidental acknowledgement to just how racist they really are. It could be something along the lines of “I’m sure he’s an animal in bed.” to just clutching their purse a little bit tighter/ walking across the street when a group of black men walk by. So, you might not be racist because you don’t hate other races, but you are referencing/ passing superficial judgements based on race. Okay, please tell me again how fetishisizing a race isn’t racism.
- The Science Isn’t There:
- Now, I hardly ever say this. In fact, I never say this, but I will today. FUCK. THE. SCIENCE. Why? Because people who use this excuse only refer to the “science” when it’s conducive to their personal cause. They don’t actually care about the science. They only care about validating their beliefs, which usually comes at the cost of ignoring the rest of the actual science. All those anti-vaxxers who don’t believe in the effectiveness of the shots, but are still going to the hospital/ doctor’s office whenever they get sick? Fuck off. All of those people who say abstinence is the only way to not get pregnant, but studies have shown that educating people on safe sex actually lowers the rate of pregnancies? Fuck off. The same people who claim sexual orientation is clearly a choice, but always knew that they were heterosexual and not attracted to members of the same sex. Fuck off. Those assholes who believe race superiority is a real thing and blacks and other people of color are genetically below whites and socially inept in succeeding in life. Fuck off. All of you. You don’t care one bit about the science.
- Please Educate Me:
- This is probably the irritating of the four because it plays into the person’s ignorance. Please tell me how you can attracted to members of the same sex. Please tell me how this society is racist. Please tell me how to tie my shoes. Please tell me… blah, blah, blah. All this tactic does is scream, “I’m ignorant by choice and can’t look things up for myself! Please hate me!” This might sound a bit harsh, but I’m a firm believer in looking things up if it really matters. So when a non person of color feels the need to interrupt the conversation of race to say, “Please educate me.” instead of being a rational human being and googling it instead, it not only takes away from the initial conversation, but it implies that the person asking values his/ her own involvement and understanding of the conversation over the actual intended outcome,… Which is usually racial equality on a social and systemic level. If a person really cared about being educated, they wouldn’t interrupt everyone else. They would openly seek out the answers for themselves, finding facts and statistics and reliable resources. It’s not the oppressed people’s job to educate those who benefit from the oppression. Same goes for those who are homophobic.
I have seen black people use these tactics again and again to oppress other marginalized groups and it really makes me doubt my pride. Being associated with people who openly treat others the same way white people treat blacks down to the excessive violence is very disheartening. Much like how blacks are often gunned down by police officers, black members (not even just members) of the LGBTQA community are openly gunned down by other blacks as well. In other countries, outed LGBTQA members can face the death penalty for being who they are. They are often targeted, abused, murdered, and thrown out onto the streets. What makes it worse is that these are blacks doing unto other blacks. These are the same people who are preaching equality, respect, and necessity of the brother-/ sisterhood, and yet, these are the same people who are quick to destroy the bonds of the supposed brother-/ sisterhood because they find out that a member doesn’t fit into their hetero-normative ideal.
I can’t stand the hypocrisy.
You can’t preach togetherness and then turn around and say, “Except for you. Not you.”
That’s not how it works.
Equality doesn’t come with conditions and exceptions.
That’s not how people make strides.
It’s about time blacks really wake up and realize that they acting like they are no better than the same white people whom they are quick to title as racists.