Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Prove It

Whoever said being black was hard didn’t know the half of it. Everybody talks about the side of being Black in a culture dominated by a majority race and all its attendant ramifications, but rarely do we write about the other side. There are endless volumes about slavery, racism, and marginalization from the dominant culture and while those are extremely important and relevant we are coming to another obstacle to being Black.

It seems more and more today the Black community is being splintered not by some nefarious plan of some white supremacy cabal, no unfortunately it is much more sinister than that. It is the separation of Blacks based on their “Blackness”. There have always been separation in the Black community which I feel has added to the current condition we find ourselves in today. There is a saying in Black America about the bucket of crabs, “Everytime a black person tries to escape their circumstances there are always other blacks (crabs) that try to pull them back down”. In other words, the attitude is if I don’t have anything, then neither will you. While this mentality has been present probably from the beginning of blackhood, it appears to becoming more pronounced as more and more Blacks are reaching some modicum of success.

I wish I could say that it was strictly economic in nature, but that is not altogether true. While Blacks have been split along economic lines this “blackness” thing appears to cross such lines. You have young Blacks who have received some success through various means who instead of wanting to advance the success of their people seem to only want to exploit them. We have young blackmen being slaughtered in the streets and the answer is “Stop the Snitchin”? We have these predators administering poisons to their brothers and sisters and the answer is “Stop the Snitchin”?

It’s bad enough that we have to struggle against the institutional racist obstacles placed in our path by people who are indifferent to our plight, but then after all of that we are being asked by our own people to prove our “blackness” by doing ignorant things. If you don’t follow these “street codes” you aren’t being black, you are imitating the whiteman. As if wanting safe streets, schools that educate, and children raised in a family is exclusive to any race. These are things we all should be striving to get, if not for ourselves; then for our people and our children.

Since when does being black depend on what I wear, what music I listen to, how I talk, or who I’m with? As if being black was some sort of fashion that one can buy at the mall and wear it to be cool; no being black is not about any of that nonsense. Those of us that are black are born black and will be black as long as we are in this world and no one should ever have to pass some litmus test to prove their blackness.

The problem as I see it is that we want diversity from others, but we will not allow ourselves the same diversity. Being black is not some one dimensional “Vulcan mind meld”, where if others don’t behave or think as I do then they are less black than me. Why does being black have to limit me around other blacks? We seek freedom of expression from others, yet we won’t allow that same freedom from ourselves. I’m sorry but I must have been absent when it was decided that being black was based on all of these superficial criteria and that without them your “Black card” will be confiscated, so remember, “Don’t leave home without it”.

One of the Black community’s greatest strengths has always been our diversity. We come in all different shades and different backgrounds and no one ever had to prove their “blackness”. Truth be told, who among us born in this country is truly black anyway? As much as I may not like the opinions of Blacks that believe in the conservative agenda, who am I to question their “blackness”? They believe different things to be the cause of our struggle and believe in different remedies to fix it. There are no black measuring sticks and just as this country is a melting pot of ideas and cultures, so are we a melting pot of the same. It wasn’t like we were all brought over here from the same village and the same tribe during slavery; we represent many different tribes and opinions.

No the way I prove my “blackness” is not in what I wear or how I talk, it is in who and what I am. And no matter how some people try to escape it, you never will. It is who you are, it is what you are. This is the same mentality used by the neo-cons, if you don’t completely agree with our view of the world then you are less of an American. There is plenty of room under the black tent for different ideas, different partners, and different lifestyles. We are a tapestry of many different hues and shades stitched together by our history and our circumstances, shaped by the common struggle of our ancestors.

Prove I’m black; yeah I prove it every day I get up and go to my job that a blackman isn’t supposed to have surrounded by people who hope that someday I will give up and not come to work. Prove I’m black; I do it every time I send money to my kids and provide for their education. Prove I’m black; I do every Friday when I go to feed the poor and show them a movie. Prove I’m black; I do every time I volunteer to mentor a black child from a broken home because his father had to go out and prove he was black. Prove I’m black; I do every morning when I rise up and get down on my knees thanking God for another day and another opportunity to express the love that He has given me to others. Now how are you proving it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What do you mean by the conservative agenda?

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