The Race Card (What Blackness Is…)

29 05 2017

Hetepu (Peace & Blessings) Family.

I remember the first time I heard the Last Poets recite and chant “Black is you, black is me, black is us, black is free.” It made me see Blackness from a larger perspective. It made me appreciate and love all shades of Black people from another level that went beyond skin deep. In Detroit growing up, I never dealt with colorism. It is not that it didn’t exist but we never disrespected someone because they were lighter or darker. I had godmothers and relatives who had hazel eyes, and others who were darker shades but they were still loved because they were family. It wasn’t until I got older that I saw that everyone was not on this same level.

For instance, I used to work as an assistant manage at this job that had a lot of truck drivers. One day there was this black kid that got hired there and as far as I could tell he was a pretty good driver but, as a new hire. He was always 10 or more minutes late to the job site. His paperwork was not correct so when his supervisor decided to temporary suspend him. This kid’s argument was that they were suspending him because he was black. Now, he was just going to be suspended for a few days but y’all have seen this scenario. He had to keep it real, so he goes ballistic and insults the owner of the company, his supervisor and everyone he could. He even threatened to “kick some people ass,” which of course, now THEY got an excuse to bring in security and/or the police.

But, what really upset me about this kid is that he tells me, “You’re an Uncle Tom!”

This is not the first time I have been called an Uncle Tom. I mean I remember when my friends and I were attending Prairie View and trying to find fundraisers for our African Holistic Study Group, a lot of the local blacks always told us coming from the cities or from the north “You ain’t (even) Black.”

Of course, I wanted to like Dap (Lawrence Fishburne) said in Spike Lee’s School Daze, “Don’t ever question my BLACKNESS.”  Of course, I wanted to tell this kid, “Hey, the real Uncle Tom (Josiah Henson shown below) was a REVOLUTIONARY!”

 

I didn’t say anything but it angered me as to why this kid would say I am not Black. I means I am not BLACK because I wore a shirt and tie to work? Was I not Black because I didn’t play rap music all loud and have my butt crack showing? What got my lunch even more so was the fact that this kid did almost everything he could wrong but instead of taking ownership for his mistakes. He plays the RACE card?

It is evident that he was young and stupid (like we all were once) but it made me ask, why is the definition of Blackness based upon superficialities. I mean if you watched School Daze, why did the “Ready for the World Crew” walking around the SoulGlo curl and shower caps in public think they were more Black then those who wanted to better themselves educationally?

You see, below is a model of the Iceberg of Culture. If you look carefully you will see that Surface Culture is ‘food, dress, music, visual arts, drama, crafts, dance, literature, language, celebrations, games.’

Now, what is interesting about this is that here are a group of people who were said in one way or another to be BLACK because they empathized with our plight, can play an instrument, smoke weed, play basketball, dance, have curly or kinky hair.

Here are a couple of people who said that they were not Black despite the fact that they have a “Black” parent.

When we look at the model above we see that all of them are speaking from a Surface Level perspective. When we look at the Shallow and Deep cultural levels is there any question that these people are not Black? Notice facial expressions, nonverbal communication, concept of beauty….do you see the BLACKNESS in these Afro-Colombians?

“Afro-Colombians Should be at the Negotiating Table” Courtesy of https://www.pressenza.com/2015/07/afro-colombians-should-be-at-the-negotiating-table/

Can you see the BLACKNESS in these Afro-Puerto Ricans?

“The Raíces Archive: A Sneak Peak-Puerto Rico 2013” Courtesy of http://www.raicesculturalcenter.org/blog/the-raices-archive-a-sneak-peak-puerto-rico-2013/

 

Notice the respect for elders in the photo below of Afro-Cubans who traced their roots to Sierra Leone.

“Trailer: Afro-Cubans and Sierra Leoneans Bridge The Gap in Doc ‘They Are We’” Courtesy of http://www.indiewire.com/2013/04/trailer-afro-cubans-and-sierra-leoneans-bridge-the-gap-in-doc-they-are-we-136170/

What about AfroMexicans (below)? And, there are many more… such as the Afro Brazilians, Afro Dominicans, etc.

Mexico Officially Recognizes 1.38 Million Afro-Mexicans in the National Census, as Black People Fight Against Racism and Invisibility Throughout Latin America. Courtesy of http://atlantablackstar.com/2015/12/14/mexico-officially-recognizes-1-38-million-afro-mexicans-in-the-national-census-as-black-people-fight-against-racism-and-invisibility-throughout-latin-america/

The point is, if we really understood what Blackness was about we would see that you cannot FAKE it. We need to stop allowing people like Harriet Beecher Stowe the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, to define who and what BLACKNESS is and understand it from our perspective. I mean when you learn that the whole Uncle Tom idea is a stereotype created. Since stereotypes are created to prevent a certain behavior from occurring. For instance, by saying that all young black males are aggressive creates the psychological notion that al young black males should not be aggressive. It makes you ask what was the real agenda?

We have allowed people to appropriate our culture because IT IS COOL. It is Fresh! It is Unique! There is no other group of people that has had our experience and survived it except for us. What people don’t understand is that we survived it because our culture. We do the surface things because it is a reflection of the inner things that matter. This is in my mind is what it means to be BLACK.

When we interpret Blackness from this deeper perspective, we see that a large portion of blackness refers to a state of mind.  Culturally speaking Barack Obama would never have been considered Black because he does not understand our experience. We have to remember, that just because they look like you doesn’t mean they are down for you, and vice versa.  They must share the same ideals as you. This is what true Blackness is about, not colorism.

Hope this helps.

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4 responses

29 05 2017
Aha rw Pth El

Shalom fam,, question,,, what are your feelings/ideas on nationality as per the law????

29 05 2017
landofkam

Hetep Aha.
Please elaborate. I want to make sure that I respond correctly with no assumptions. 🙂

29 05 2017
Kay

I’m glad you’re back. Great post.

Raven actually has two Black parents. Her self-hatred was surprising and her parents do not feel the same, as they’ve spoken out.

29 05 2017
landofkam

Thanks Kay. That makes my point even more valid don’t you think? She has a self-hatred or psychological problem, which makes her identify crisis prevent her from seeing the beauty of our culture. What your thoughts?

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