Tuesday, January 9, 2007

What Does It Mean To Be Black?


What's good folks? The following thoughts come from guest contributor Mr. Smith... Enjoy!

What does it mean to be BLACK? This is a question I posed to a wise older gentleman. The question was asked after a close friend said that she hated me. Kinda taken back by her honesty I asked…why? She replied that I was an elitist and not really black. Not really sure how to respond I left it at OK! I asked my wise older, non-black, friend to explain her comments.

After a short pause that seemed to last forever…he dropped a simple yet complex nugget of knowledge on me. I had never heard it quite put like this, so I was inclined to post it here for your feedback.

He began with a rhetorical question…Where are BLACK people from? We are one of the few “races” that don’t have a home. Some will say we are from Africa, but we don’t know anything about the different tribes, nor can we trace our heritage to which country. Most Africans perception of BLACK AMERICA is that we are lazy and complain a lot.

Think about it, most races can say they come from this particular country. They have a spot on the globe they can say that people like me RUN shit there. BLACK AMERICA has no such place. This has given us a true MINORITY MINDSET. We never see “us” in power or wealth. Other minorities come to this country and do well…why? Just the fact that they are here they feel they are doing better than their people back home. They come over with a MAJORITY MINDSET, which simply put they feel they can do anything or have anything they want if they put their mind to it. To accomplish anything great you must have this mindset… the determination to not let your circumstance control you and focus on your goals.

When Blacks do reach a certain level of success and wealth they are not considered black. They are Uncle Toms that are acting white.

To take it a step further, he said, that’s why successful blacks date outside of their race…NOT because they are attracted to there physical beauty BUT their majority MINDSET. Regardless Latino, Asian or White they all have a country on the map to call home. So percentage wise they have more of their population that has a MAJORITY complex.

It seems that a few of us have broken out of that MINORITY MINDSET. Oprah Winfrey. Tiger Woods. Michael Jordan. Magic Johnson. Bill Cosby. Is aspiring to be a part of this elite group not being a part of Black America?

9 comments:

K.B. said...

What does it mean to be black? I'm going to give the cop out answer. It means nothing. It's very difficult to define blackness because it's not based on anything culturally concrete. The term was created to distinguish skin color. It had nothing to do with culture. The fact that we tried to use a term used for skin color to describe a culture is problematic in itself.

But, let's assume it's ok to lump together all the people that were brought here from different cultures in Africa and call them 'one race.' Ok, so the term 'black' comes to describe the culture of one who's enslaved. Alright, so what happens when blacks are no longer enslaved?

I could continue this, but I'll stop here. Blackness is in the eye of the beholder.

the Chairman aka Mr. Smith said...

I found the comments quite ignorant, but I guess I was in front of the wrong beholder?

K.B. said...

I don't think there is a wrong or right beholder. That was her opinion of blackness.

Quick thought - I work at a majority black high school. The definition of 'blackness' here could be argued to be certain slang, hip hop, clothing, etc. However, I went to college at Carolina, where I received a totally different 'black' experience. Being 'black' was knowing your history and fighting for the rights of African Americans.

To me, both of these are being 'black,' but many people would disagree. And this is because blackness is in the eye of the beholder.

Gene said...

When I was in South Africa, I ran into this dude who designed a line of clothes called Afritude. Afritude is the mindset of anyone with African roots. His point was to show the diversity of Africa, and thus mankind.

Blackness is whatever you say it is.

A Beautiful Life said...

It means nothing, except for how those who control the access to resources in a country (usually white men) define it. In some South American countries black has nothing to do with skin color or culture, but has everything to do with social class. In those countries black means poor, and wealthy people with black skin are considered white. It's not about race, but class.

However, in American Race is everything. I don't feel that being a rich black person makes one white or more acceptable to elite white people. Oprah is still unable to get into certain country clubs. Wealthy black men are still harrassed by the cops. Black republicans still have a difficult time getting campain funding.

In America, black has everything to do with skin color and features, and being a black male means something totally different than being a black female.

As a black woman, I see "black man" as strong, leader, courageous, powerful, an overcomer, and the head and soul of his family. I see "black woman" as influential, intelligent, the heart of her family, strong, and beautiful.

However, in America being a black man stereotypically means a threat, a thug, one who needs to be controlled, lazy, no good, inferior, dangerous. A black woman means being promiscuous, welfare queen, deserving to be sexually assaulted, loud, independent, and inferior. There's also the mammy syndrome, where we are thought to be kind and a safe place for white people to talk about their problems and leave their children.

These stereotypes are horrible and unfortunately we have internalized them to the point where we say things like: that good for nothing...., he ain't a real man,
she's just after my money, and the all to common, I don't need a man, because I can do it all by myself. Don't get me wrong, it's okay to believe these things about a person, but just make sure race doesn't lead to these statements.

I do think that we should overcome the minority mindset and think of ourselves as people who do deserver access to all resources, but we are so diverse that it's hard to label us as a group.

Brandon said...

I agree with you . It IS a mindset. It seems like we sometimes let it consume us more than it should.

It is absolutely necessary to embrace it and realize the struggle that comes along with it, but it's dangerous to let it guide your every thought and action. Ultimately, that will only deter you from reaching your purpose and full potential.

jermel said...

Being black to me just means you understand the struggle that those that look like you endured during this country's history. As long as you understand that, you're black in my book. Even if you surf, bungy jump, date white women, eat unseasoned food, and the whole nine.

Gwadiso said...

BEING BLACK 4 ME IS ONLY A MINDSET ACTUALLY REGARDLESS OF UR PIGMENTATION...THERE ARE BLACK WOMEN WHO PUT ON RED LIPSTICK NOWADAYS...CAN U NOW REGARD DAT AS BEING BLACK?

tinuoye said...

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BLACK? BROTHA AND SISTA, NOTE THESE ARE BORROWED TERMS, YOU NEED TO DO THE ONE THING BLACK PEOPLE ARE NOT SUPPOSE TO DO: READ. THE BOOK TO READ: HOW TO BE BLACK. I WOULD SAY IT IS YOUR COMPLETELY HILARIOUS GUIDE TO ANSWERING ANYONE WHO SAYS YOU ARE NOT BLACK OR THAT YOU ARE TO BLACK. JUST SAYING! IT WAS WRITTEN BY BARATUNDE THORSTON AND PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 2012. JUST NOTICED THE LAST PERSON COMMENT ON THE 25TH OF FEBRUARY LAST YEAR. OOPS!