All Articles Tagged "Blackness"
This morning I came across a tweet that stopped me dead in my tracks. As CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien prepares for the next installment of Black In America, “Who Is Black In America?” airing Sunday night, someone tweeted that Soledad wants the “whole world to know (think) she’s black,” and that she she’s taking a black person’s job because she’s Latina. Wow.
This is disrespectful to me in so many ways. First of all, Soledad is a journalist, and the Black In America series is her entire concept. If she didn’t pitch the ideas and pour her heart and soul into it, the black in America and Latino in America specials wouldn’t even exist. Secondly, what right does this random person have to define her ethnicity? As a Twitter user who describes herself as the “Black love Queen,” that’s a very un-unifying one love idea. You think that would make Bob Marley proud? The user even went so far as to mention that she has a white grandmother. That defense makes the entire call-out ironic and frankly, moronic.
We see it time and time again, everyone wants to be black without the responsibility. There was a time when black actresses were only accepted by black media, a reason why biracial stars like Alicia keys and Paula Patton identify strongly with their African-American side.
And I’ve never bought into that “my black has to be stronger than yours” idea that many mixed race people adopt when describing their pride in their black side. My black is mine, it does not have to be louder or stronger than anyone else’s. I don’t have to dress a certain way or speak a certain way. My blackness is my birthright.
The same woman who is trying to quiet Soledad was proud to pull the lever and vote for the first Black president, an extraordinary man raised by an inspiring white woman.
In discussions, it comes up that multiracial people have rooted issues that are “all in their mind” once they hit a certain age. But what you fail to understand is that we’re constantly bombarded with messages as to why we’re not who we are. And don’t think we don’t have a strong sense of self. Ask a mixed race person (respectfully) about their identity, and you’ll get a well thought out response, for the simple fact that we’ve had to have a soundbyte all this time.
As a black woman, I’m sure you deal with people coming up with conclusions about you based on stereotypes. So from a multiracial woman, get over yourself. Dream your own dreams before trying to tear down others. And enjoy the show Sunday night.
I must have retired under a rock after posting the photo of Beyonce holding Blue Ivy yesterday. I browsed the comments section later in the day and saw how nearly everyone remarked how much Blue looks like her daddy, Jay-Z, followed up with admiration for how adorable she is, but elsewhere on the net, folks were having a totally different discussion.
I wouldn’t have known had I not traveled over to Clutch and seen an article by Jessica C. Andrews questioning what the Blue Ivy backlash says about us. Her post subsequently took me over to Colorlines and a discussion on the same topic by Akiba Soloman, and between the two articles I came away with these startling reactions to the 7-month-old’s photo:
Beyoncé really screwed up, having a baby by Jay-Z. His nose and lips are never going to look right on a girl.
“Thats gonna be one ugly n****a baby with big A$$ lips and a dirty A$$ weave.”
Nappy-headed kid. Wish Beyoncé had married a nice-looking man instead of Jay-Z.
I’ll just be real about something for a minute. It’s a rare person that finds Jay-Z attractive outside of his money or status and I don’ think that has much to do with having so-called black features. A lot of people questioned how he could pull someone like Beyonce simply because she’s been painted as the most beautiful woman in the world, and him one of the most unattractive rappers on the scene. I’ve never taken the criticism against his physical appearance as some evidence of anti-black self-hatred, but more something to do with aesthetics; however the way in which people have criticized Blue Ivy because of the traits she shares with Jay-Z call that opinion into question.
Before anyone ever saw Blue Ivy, or even knew Beyonce would have a child one day, there were jokes about what their kid would look like because of Jay-Z’s strong masculine features but what there wasn’t at the time was derogatory comments about their child being a “n***a baby” because she might inherent his large lips, cheeks, and nose, or god-forbid his coarse, “nappy” hair. But that is where we sit today, criticizing a child because she doesn’t fit the same beauty ideal we criticize her mother of falsely living up to on a daily basis. How does that work?
Some commenters on Clutch felt a lot of the backlash is rooted in the general love-hate relationship people maintain with Beyonce. And I agree. On some level everyone is in awe of her success, her work ethic, and all that she has been able to attain but simultaneously we’re tired of having her accomplishments—including possibly her child—thrown in our face; and so, we lash out. But what’s telling here is that the comments aren’t of the usual “who cares,” “why should I care,” IDGAF variety. They are laced with remarks about her hair texture and characteristically black lips that insinuate some level of disappointment that after waiting for five months to get another glimpse of Blue since we first laid eyes on her button nose, soft wispy hair, and tiny lips, we were presented with a so-called nappy-headed baby who would no doubt be so ashamed of her hair texture one day she would have to wear weaves and who could never possibly be attractive because of her wide facial features. That’s just not a diss to Jay-Z or Beyonce’s choice in a father, that speaks volumes about our narrow ideals of beauty and how as much as we bash people whose style choices we think hint they don’t really want to be black, we don’t really want people—possibly ourselves included—to be black either. As Demetria Lucas wrote in her post on Essence:
“If some of us are very honest, we’ll acknowledge that there are only certain “Black” physical features that we as a collective find attractive. Curves? A blessing and curse. Full lips? Eh… depends on how full. Broad nose? On women, not at all. On men? Some get a pass, but not Jay-Z. Kinky hair? Not so much. There’s a reason most Black women “prefer” perms and even a lot of natural girls spend an inordinate amount of time and product trying to reconfigure their coils into curls.”
What’s unfortunate is that the parameters of what’s acceptably black are getting narrower and narrower and the age at which we start criticizing those outside of those boundaries younger and younger. I imagine there’s someone out there joking that Beyoncé should slap a perm on 7-month-old Blue Ivy’s curls to snatch that n***a texture out of it, though she’ll have to wait until she’s at least 16 or so to have that nose problem corrected. What a pity. And even then, the droves will be lined up to assert that she hates herself and her black features so she had them “whitened.” This from the same black people whose comments suggest they would likely do the same if they had the money, but for now they’ll just sit behind a computer screen taunting babies who hopefully won’t have access to this type of foolishness until they’ve come to a point in life where they’ve developed a healthy sense of self-esteem about their blackness in all its variety. No one says you have to think Blue Ivy is an adorable, cute, precious baby doll, but when you suggest that it’s her black features that keep her from attaining those titles, that’s when the problem goes way beyond hatred of Beyonce to hatred of self and possibly your own blackness.
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People usually ask that question saying why won’t X let Y or Z be great. But in the case of Barack Obama, it’s been made painfully clear why Republicans and Tea Party members in particular won’t let him be great, it’s because he’s black. That’s why I find it so interesting that despite all the hell he goes through as what most agree he is, the first black president of the United States, for some reason a strong segment of the black population won’t let him be black.
The latest forerunner in the case against Barack Obama’s blackness is actor Morgan Freeman. I imagine eyes rolled instantly at the mention of his name, along with a follow-up question of who cares? Unfortunately we care because Mr. Freeman denounced Barack Obama’s blackness openly in an interview with NPR today. Truthfully, I’m not even sure how the topic came up amongst discussion of his new movie, The Magic of Belle Isle, but nevertheless he let his thoughts on Barack Hussein Obama be known, saying:
“First thing that always pops into my head regarding our president is that all of the people who are setting up this barrier for him … they just conveniently forget that Barack had a mama, and she was white — very white American, Kansas, middle of America,” Freeman said. “There was no argument about who he is or what he is. America’s first black president hasn’t arisen yet. He’s not America’s first black president — he’s America’s first mixed-race president.”
Really, Morgan? That’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the leader of our nation? It appears he’s as color struck as the republicans he calls out in his next statement.
“He is being purposely, purposely thwarted by the Republican Party, who started out at the beginning of his tenure by saying, ‘We are going to do whatever is necessary to make sure that he’s only going to serve one term,’ ” he said. “That means they will not cooperate with him on anything. So to say he’s ineffective is a misappropriation of the facts.”
At least he got that point right. Maybe Morgan thinks that if white people acknowledged the half of the president that is just like them he wouldn’t be so stonewalled, but with the last part of that statement I get the impression that Morgan is more so distancing himself from the president because of his multi-ethnicity rather than trying to point out what makes him a lot like the rest of America.
It continues to amaze me how the black community gets so upset when someone who is mixed identifies as such, as they criticize them for assumedly not wanting to really be black. But in the same token we separate these individuals from the real black people by pointing out their multi-ethnic background when they just want to be black. What purpose does this serve? Not a worthwhile one I can tell you that. I suppose we don’t have to subscribe to the one-drop rule that threw most of us in the colored pool way back when to begin with but if someone wants to identify as black, who is at least 50 percent black, and who is in a position of influence in this country, why are we trying to take that away from him? And again, for what reason?
We don’t just play this one day you’re black, the next you’re not game with President Obama when it comes to his genetic background we also label him as one or the other depending on his behavior and his policies. How many times have we heard people—black and white—mask their desire for a real black president as a joke, pointing out his mild mannerisms and timidness and how he’s actually willing to compromise, as any politician who wants to actually achieve things should, as evidence he’s not a real black man? Is there any wonder fools on the other side of the spectrum are going overboard with their machismo to prove they’re real black men? You know, having babies in every area code, disrespecting women, effing the police, and all that good stuff? I get Morgan’s point about Barack clearly being biracial but do we really want to start, or better yet continue, this trend of one-upping one’s blackness and segmenting another’s? If we go by this definition we’ll probably never have a black president because we’re all quite racially and ethnically mixed and that reality is increasing by the day.
We can all look at Barack Obama and see that he is clearly being treated like a black man, and he obviously identifies as such. We don’t need messages like this coming from the same group of people who gets angered by being thrown into one heap of people in society known as minorities. If we start singling out biracial people as something else altogether, our numbers will be way below the 12 to 13 percent of the population we currently make up today. If we think we’re the forgotten ones now, imagine what that new reality would look like.
I know some people are frustrated that President Obama hasn’t been more down for the team so to speak when it comes to the African American community, but I’m 99 percent sure that has nothing to do with the fact that his mom is white, and everything to do with him being in a position to look out for the country as a whole and also seeing that there is no quick policy switch he can hit that will suddenly make black people alright in the world. Can you imagine the type of backlash that would have arisen had Barack Obama stated in 2008 that he was biracial and not a black man? Black folks would have been rushing out in droves to take their votes back. Unfortunately, now some seem to have done the same with their votes of confidence, disappointed that Barack Obama hasn’t lived up to their definition of what a real black man is, proving once again that we’re often our own worst enemies.
What do you think about Morgan Freeman’s comment?
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