What does it mean to “Be Black”? Another one of my questions that could be construed as stupid (yes I am a fan of these). If you hear the words “Black person”, what comes to mind?
This simple Google search comes up with some guy that looks a bit like my brother, Jamie Foxx, someone I don’t know the name of, Obama, some model(they all look the same), and I have no fuckin’ clue but that guy is JACKED! Look at those biceps, they make his forearms look like pretzel sticks…
Getting back on track, that may or may not be it for the average Joe and Jane. It could be something a bit more media sensational, like this:
Depending on which you think of first, Obama or those… things, you’re on an extreme spectrum. You have the besuited, well-spoken, light skinned, highly mixed man who is in the Oval Office, and then you have the pants halfway down, fingers contorted into symbols of gang allegiance, and dark skin. Which would be seen as being truly Black?
To “be Black” is quite the enigma. If one does well in school, speaks properly, and is reserved, they’re accused of “acting white” by their peers, and are discouraged from behaving in such a way, lest they be excluded, or worse, attacked for being different. Light skinned Blacks aren’t seen as favorable by their darker equals either, because they see lighter skin and assume they’ll be better off for not being “too Black”, regardless of how they act. Make up your damn minds, people!
I’ve seen and experienced this firsthand many times in school, though mainly in elementary school, where I was never really aware of race relations, sexual orientations, and all that jazz. I just thought people were people, so what if they happened to look a little different? What does me being Black have to do with how I act? Everything, or so my classmates would sometimes claim. I liked to read too much, they would say. I was too eager to get good grades, they thought. I was a bit too well behaved and didn’t cause enough trouble, they said. For some reason, wanting to succeed and get into this mystical land called “college” was a far cry from the goals of others. Sure they had high hopes like me, but fuck education, that’s secondary. Black kids aimed lower, but felt cheated when they got Fs on their exams, and they didn’t know why.
I was always a strange kid. I never quite fit in, never really spoke up too much. I would be the kid that drew weird things over and over, and when I did socialize, it was in small bursts, and even then I was a little less gung ho than others (or in some situations, a little too over the top to compensate). It all came to a head when I decided to get into this stuff called “rock”. Oh yes, I didn’t just delve into Deicide, Goatsnake, and Sonata Arctica, folks. I took the first step and began exploring the weird, guitar driven world of Rock, stemming mostly from video game soundtracks, but also from the radio stations like WBCN. This, naturally, distanced me a little more from my peers, who were off listening to Hip-Hop and RnB, spouting verses in the playgrounds after school, reveling in the sordid tales of murder, sexual conquest, and monetary gain through not so legal means. It was a time where you either listened to the popular music and fraternized freely, or you were a weird kid that listened to Rock’n’Roll, and therefore I was one of those kids. The thing was, I kind of enjoyed being the Black Sheep. So what if listening to Rock was “acting white”? Shouldn’t life be about what you enjoy? Of course I didn’t think about it that way when I was 12 or 13, but that was basically my attitude. If I wanted to listen to Korn, Linkin Park, Sonic and Dragon Ball Z game soundtracks, I would, and damn those who thought I was strange for it!
I’ve always been polite and rather low key. I’ve always liked to take it slow (unless I’m eating, then I’m a fuckin’ vacuum!), just enjoy life and watch things pass by. I said my “pleases” and “thank you’s”, I’ve said “May I” instead of “Can I”, I let people finish their sentences before I began mine, and so on. The antithesis of Black thought, one may say. I remember once in my freshman year of high school I asked a kid politely when I dropped my pencil, “Could you please pass me my pencil?” and he said “Nigga you sound white as shit” or something to that effect, and it hit me: What’s wrong with being polite? Are only White people allowed to be mild mannered and polite? I had no clue that being Black made you predisposed to rudeness and asking for things crassly. I probably should phrased it “Yo, pick up my pencil!”. Yeah… nah.
On the question of religion, notice how many Black people like to toss around the name of God. I’m Agnostic bordering on Atheist, so I tend to see this God thing as a bit of a hinderance to human progress. Growing up, I would occasionally have to attend church, clothed in my best available monkey suit. I never saw the point of it. Ever. Why sit in front of a man yelling and shouting (albeit comically) about how this guy in the sky will bestow upon us blessings if we toss him some money and believe in him? I saw it as more of a cartoon of sorts, deserving no more attention than your next door neighbor, who if you believe in them, won’t raid your home and put a bullet in your head. Two summers ago I butted heads with a schoolmate of mine about the question of God, because I was wearing my Children Of Bodom shirt with a grim reaper on it and he said it was sinful and apparently I’m the Devil, which I take as a complement because I hear he’s quite handsome. It got to the point where he was just yelling “You evil! You da devil nigga!” and I handwaved his arguments, basically pleading that he have some reason. Is religion a prerequisite for morality? Is Death evil? God created it, after all. I’m not going to go much further on this, but I hang my head in shame about how too many Blacks make it their life’s mission to be God fearing and church going, thinking it will save us, when clearly human activity is responsible for the hole we are in today. Not to mention the hypocrisy of thieving preachers and people who spout scripture while committing atrocities, but like I said, I’ll just wrap this up here.
With all that said, what does it mean to “be (insert ethnicity)”? Does liking Anime and Manga mean you’re acting Japanese? Not to my knowledge. Does enjoying Polka mean you’re acting German? Nope. Does holding a Kalashnikov and wearing a Babushka mean you’re acting Russian? No! So why does liking rap, being disrespectful, and shunning education make one Black? Is this something we really want to be? Look at the face of most rap today, which has become the face of the Black population.
THIS IS WHAT THEY THINK WE’RE ALL LIKE! FUCK!
Before you start thinking I’m a self hating Black person or that I’m racist against my own kind, take a few steps back and analyze what I’ve been going over. Am I saying “All Black people hate learning, are rude fucks, and are religious sheep!” No, I’m saying that this is the impression the world has of us. I speak mainly of American Blacks, but our “culture” of ignorance and hatred is even spreading to Africa, where your stereotypical bling, guns’n’hoes rap videos are shown to child soldiers to harden them up and glorify killing and madness, and they are taught to disrespect and debase. Not to start a crusade against hip-hop, but this shit is evil, and it does not help us grow. It’s an evisceration plague, a sickness, and it’s tearing us apart from the inside.
When you think of a Black person, do you imagine a man with a giant cross around his neck, a gat in his belt, and a wool cap, or do you just imagine a human being like you and me? Even I, who makes it a point not to stereotype, cannot dispel this image of Blackness as a curse, a burden that I must overcome and vanquish by becoming the opposite of what everyone believes to be the standard. No, I do not hate my skin, I do not hate my heritage, and I do not hate my people, but I hate what we’ve willingly become.
We are divided amongst ourselves over trivialities: Who can hustle, who can “spit game”, who’s got the most sneakers, who can be the “hardest nigga on tha block”. Fuck all that, I want to make something of myself someday. If that means I must forsake what many see as “Black culture”, I’ll be happy to break my vial of poison and allow the harmful substances within to dissipate into nothingness, liberated of what it means to “be Black”. The dictionary definition need not apply to me, so why should it to anyone else? To “be Black” is to confine yourself and shackle your identity, allowing it to atrophy and wither away. To “be Black” is mental suicide. To be human should not be a matter of your color. I myself don’t have a definition of what it is to “be human”, so I cannot rightfully say. I’m just fed up with having to “be Black”, because it’s not me.