Monday, March 21, 2011

I'm Tired of Being "Black"

No, not as I am but as people want me to appear.

There is a certain level of negative expectations when it comes to "Black" people. They are lazy; shiftless; criminal; pathological; overly lustful; leeches on society; and on and on and on. Of course, this is not true of all of us and I dare say that I, and a whole LOT of my friends and acquaintances are NOT this way but what does that matter?

But, when a crime occurs, the first thought among people, including our own, is that it MUST be a Black person who did it. How convenient this is for those who want to wield the "Bogeyman" card to scapegoat us as those most likely to do the things listed above.

Further, we tend to believe it ourselves. Why not? What do we see nearly everywhere but people misrepresenting the rest of us by their "out loud" behavior. Black people on the whole are NOT gang members and are not hip-hoppers. Black people on the whole are generally quite conservative socially and politically because of our church upbringing but that matters not when you hear the spin masters associate being "Black" with so many negative things in our society.

There is nothing inherently wrong with being liberal, or conservative for that matter, but in the eyes of certain observers, being "Black" and either of those two labels is a brand that denotes negativity among any who hears it.

So, where is the middle ground here? How can one be "Black" and, well, anything and not have a stigma attached to it? Who has created this definition that weighs around our collective necks and paints all Blacks, light, dark, or in between, as an anchor on society? Who says that Blacks can be "only one" thing, be it an athlete, a rapper, a gang member, or whatever association one wants to put on being "Black?"

We were the only ethnic group brought to America against our will. We were stripped of our racial identity and forced to be what our slave masters wanted us to be. We tried our best to fit in, didn't we? We "processed" our hair, and still do in a manner of speaking. We paint our faces to lighten our color. We dressed like those who enslaved us. We tried to be everything they wanted us to believe we should be but it all falls short because we are just "Black" and there is nothing that change that.

We condemn our basest instincts but do nothing to collectively purge them from our subconscious. We still like being called the N-Word as a term of endearment even though it morphed from a Portuguese definition of what it meant to be Black and being Black then became a slur.

I am not in a position to write a comprehensive history of my people but I am sure doggoned tired of being "Black" as it is now depicted. Further, I'm tired of being placed in this trick bag by someone else...anyone else. There's enough blame to go around but when we are our own worst enemy, I think that the first finger of blame has to be pointed at ourselves.

I would much rather be Black in the sense that we are a noble people replete with skills extraordinaire. We are a resilient people capable of dominating our circumstances with verve and elan. We are a people that is dire need of a new set of lens to view ourselves from another view that does emphasize what is good and wholesome about who we are.

We need to not only trumpet this but we need to INSIST that those negative images that are preferred by others is not preferred by the rest of us. We need to identify the ethos that is most dominant about us and make people remember that THIS is who MOST of us truly are and not what you see on the evening news, or documentaries about gangsters, or that youngin who speaks in a way that you wished they came with closed captions.

We, as we are manifest here in the United States, are no longer Africans because if we truly were, we would not condemn the true Africans who come here for standing up straight, who speak proper English, who hold fast to their dignity, as if this is some foreign concept for us. So, save your "African American" label for someone else. No, we are BLACK people...people of a hue that is so rich and lustrous that it needs to be glorified for what it is, and not how it is unlike those who are not. We (I hope and pray) prefer to be Americans who are Black and not some subset of some species incapable of doing and being our best no matter what.

We need the majority culture to realize that diversity does not minimize them but magnifies all of us as being what America was always supposed to be and not what racial attitudes and politics forced it to become.

So, do not see me as some Silhouette with no face; no features; nothing to understand. See me as a person of worth. A person with superior skills. A person with a sharp intellect because I took the time to develop it.

Black person: see yourself in the same way! Being smart is a Black thing. Speaking THE language in a proper universally understood way is not a "White" thing but an American thing because, in the end, this is all we have to bank on.

America: quit trying to pacify us but allow us to hold ourselves accountable. Whether one is Black, or White, if you continue to enable people by your paternalistic behavior, ANYONE would become what you claim when you say that we are inherently a sub-species.

If "the system" is arrayed against you, create your own system to counter it. Who says that we must be subject to anything that is not good for us? Who says that anyone must be allowed to profit from the misery inflicted upon any group of people? The drug kingpin would be nothing at all if they were assured that your miserable life would improve. He is counting on you to believe that nothing will change and that he has the escape for you.

Why do we have so many children out of wedlock but also abort more of them than anyone else as well? What's going on here??

If it has been proven that smoking will kill you, why do we smoke more of the kinds of cigarettes that are masked with menthol than anyone else? What marketing scheme thought of this?

Why do WE allow our health to suffer "disproportionally" from everyone else? Is eating healthy and living risk free supposedly a "White Thing" too?

What is it about OUR neighborhoods that says that they must be trash-ridden, dilapidated, and lacking dignity? Does physical poverty have to translate into spiritual poverty too?

Yep, being "Black" is something special, isn't it? So special that we have become addicted to our own worst instincts when your own people insist that you have to be so they can accept their own failings. Misery loves company, remember?

Something needs to happen to change these perceptions and they needed to have been done yesterday.

I'm sure that someone will counter what I've posted here and that's fine. Give me your proof that we don't have to live this way and that we can do it without blaming anyone else, and I'll be happy to listen. But, I, for one, will no longer accept this definition of being "Black" because I will not let you label me thus.