I am not an African-American, I am a Black-American. Black, like White, is not a skin color, it’s a term of cultural identification. It has to do with how you are perceived in this world and where you fit in. Being African-American is a label, being Black has to do with acceptance. Acceptance that we dark-skinned New World descendants of Africans are beautiful in all of our shades of hue.
Shades of Hue
We did not possess a natural disdain for our skin color in Africa, we were trained to be ashamed of our Black skin right here in America. There was a time where being called Black was more of an insult than that of being called a Nigger or Colored.
Literacy ain’t just the ability to read, it’s the ability to both read and comprehend.
Jesse is for Jus’ he
In December 1988, Jesse Jackson organized a congress of civil rights groups to formally declare that “blacks” would be known as African-American. He was quoted saying, “Every ethnic group in this country has a reference to some land base, some historical, cultural base. African-Americans have hit that level of cultural maturity.’’ I have a problem with this statement for several reasons. Though I acknowledge and respect my African ancestry, I am not African. I am of a different breed. America is my land base and my history and culture are informed primarily here.
I’m not too sure what Mr. Jackson means by “African-Americans have hit that level of cultural maturity,” as if to suggest at some point previous to December 1988 we were not deserving or worthy of cultural respect.
Charlize Theron is African-American
Another reason I don’t identify with being African-American is because you don’t have to have cultural ties to slavery and the racial oppression of pre-civil rights America to be identified as such. For instance, Barack Obama is an African-American. Anyone who moves to America from Africa and receives U.S. citizenship is African-American. You don’t have to be a descendant of slaves in this country to be African-American, but you do have to be of that lineage in order to be legitimately referred to as Negro or Black. Actually, you can be White and be an African-American.
Charlize Theron is an African-American, but she sho’ ain’t Black.
Literally speaking, Charlize is more African-American than Viola Davis [The Help].
Who’s Afraid of Pro-Blackness
Being Pro-Black does not imply anti-any-other-race. Why is virtually every one else in the world allowed to be proud of who they are except Black people? Why does pride in Black cultural heritage connote racism to some? Why is the acknowledgement of Black contributions to America or a connection to Black ancestral roots so off-putting to many folk?
Pro-Black = Offensive : Poor-Black, not so much
The imagery of the well-educated, conscious Black person is a threat in our society, but we’re perfectly comfortable with the imagery of the poor, downtrodden Nigger. We’re also comfortable with the loud and common, rich Nigga who flosses, balls and blings all over the place, but show me a strong working-class Black who tells it like it is and I’ll show you an angry, Black racist.
No Black History, No American History
Black History Month is some BS. If we celebrated American history holistically, there would be no need for a Black history month. Besides, Black history seemed to end in this country with the passing of Martin Luther King. They certainly never teach anything in schools about the Black Power Movement.
I must admit, Morgan Freeman makes an interesting case in absolving racism by not discussing it but, respectfully, it seems a bit over-simplified to me in a kind of “Just say no to drugs” sort of way. In a perfect world, Mr. Freeman would be absolutely right, however we have not yet evolved to that status as human beings. If we Blacks stopped identifying as such, would the whole world join us in abandoning their nationalities too? That’s the only way this whole post-racial notion would work. We would have to exist in a completely post-nationalistic society, which sounds good, but I believe far from a tangible reality at this point.
The post-racial ideology is quite seductive in its nature, however, it’s still crouched in racism. We can’t even begin to realize this quality of liberation from labels until every living being on the planet is indeed free. It’s tantamount to Buddhists’ biggest obstacle towards enlightenment being their idea of it.
“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” -Proverbs 23:7
That said, nothing can fly without resistance.
The oppressors are as much slaves, if not more, as the slaves themselves for only an oppressed mindset can condition a free being into servitude.
– Nicholas Payton
I Ain’t Afraid of The Next Level
You can’t go to the next level successfully without first having good form. Advancement without a proper foundation is more detrimental than stagnation. Before one can grow, correct form is a must. Labels aren’t all bad. Sure, some can be like a prison, but a proper label can be like braces which help guide one’s steps.
Labels aren’t the problem, it’s mislabeling that’s the real issue.
Dat Baby Black!
Before we can obliterate racism, we must acknowledge it fully. In the Obama era, people are a bit too hasty in throwing out the bath water. They don’t see, or want to see, that there’s still a Black baby in the tub. People are so quick to tell Black people to get over themselves, but where is the face of White consciousness? We Blacks have had a Civil Rights Movement, but what did White people in America have? Do we actually think that all of those racist ideologies that have been in place for centuries just magically went away? It’s easy to pick up a new way of thinking, but the hardest thing to do in life is to erase bad habits. The answer? Overwrite history.
Playing The Jack of Spades
Let’s teach our kids that slavery didn’t exist and ridicule anyone who makes reference to America’s racist agendas. In fact, from now on, anyone who even speaks of racism is now The New Racist.
In America, we would rather deny our differences than learn to respect them.
Do away with affirmative action, it’s not fair.
I agree, it’s not fair, but if the deck wasn’t stacked against Black people, there would be no need for Affirmative Action.
Black and Blue!
There was a certain vibration amongst Blacks when we accepted and celebrated the fact that we were Black. Don Cornelius helped make being Black “The New White” of the ’70s. People of all ethnicities donned afros and dashikis. I am a Black man, but I am not a victim of my skin nor my heritage. I respect my history, but am not defined by it.
To those who don’t “see” color, Black people are invisible.
There is nothing wrong with being Black, it’s beautiful in all of its Shades of Hue.
- Nicholas Payton aka The Creator of #BAM aka The Savior of Archaic Pop