Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Every Negro Is Black, But Some Are More Blacker Than Others

So Stereohyped had their two editors do a couple essays exploring what "the black experience" means to them. I personally think all editors of blogs, certainly ones that rely on the subjective tastemaking skills of the writer/editor, should indulge this exercise, it's great.

I left a couple comments because both raised interesting underplayed, in my opinion, questions w/ regards to the black experience.

Lauren (who I've interviewed), raises the dynamic of gender and sexuality in relaying her first out-of-black-body experience. In a moment when she's trying to look pretty/cute she is felled (scarred?) by the whole white beauty image issue.

When I jokingly wrote about the Mediocre Black Chick Conditioning Program, some of the feedback/comments made me think about significant differences in the "black experience" for men and women. The universal condition of gender/sex/sexuality influences how we receive and respond to our "blackness".

In other words, I think black women have the blackness more tied up in the american beauty complex. But you don't hear as much about black women, say, going to jail for holding a DVD. Which opens up a whole other bag of worms.

I was also struck by Cord's essay, one which he says was triggered by repeated questioning of his "blackness." Of course, for the most part, that "indictment" being tossed at educated "assimilated" black people is a familiar trope. But while Lauren raised the question of gender differences, I thought Cord raised the question of ultimate comfort level with said "blackness."

We all deal with existentially questioning ourselves, but black people can often have that framed in the context of their "blackness," and since the existential angst goes away, i wonder if being resentful of your black experience[s] can be permanently problematic, forever unresolved.

Anyblack, check them out if such explorations intrigue you.

Lauren Asks, Am I Black Enough For Ya [Stereohyped]
Cord Asks, Am I Black Enough For Ya [Stereohyped]

True Negro Confessions


  1. Anonymous4/01/2008

    Thanks for the link, TAN. I agree with you that black women and black men come to understand their racial identity at different times and in different ways, but I think you misunderstood my first "out-of-black-body experience." It actually had a lot more to do with recognizing for the first time how racial identity went beyond the superficial. Trying to look pretty in an antibellum (you guys have to read it to understand) costume was the catalyst, yes, but what felled/scarred/humiliated me was the harsh realization that racial differences were deeper than "white beauty issues."

  2. Anonymous4/03/2008

    TAN I love your blog, your self effacing humour etc. However it frightens me how you always seem to ignore the cost of assimilation, that in order for one to adopt (assimilate to) another culture one discards aspects of a culture that they were initially born into, brought up in, socialised in. Now the reason that this culture is important is because it is tied to one's race, heritage, history and many other aspects that help make up one's identity. Having gone to white schools all my life, and like Lauren, praying for other black students when I went to boarding school in high school, I make a concerted effort everyday to get back some of what I lost during those days. I speak english better than my own language, which in turn can isolate me from my very own family. That's the cost of assimilation. Perhaps for you it isn't so evident what it is you give up for this assimilation, but there are definitely some negatives to it. Which is probably why you'll get people questioning you about who you are, what you are? As the world gets smaller and we all watch the same tv shows, listen to the same music and copy each other in terms of fashion trends, don't you worry about how bland and boring the world could become if we all conformed to some grey clone like beings, modelled after Europeans. I know that sounds like some archaic freedom fighter rhetoric, but there is some sense to holding on to an identity that sets you apart from others. Not only is it necessary for the survival for the human species it's vital. So I speak my broken Sepedi, with my affected private school educated accent, but at times I feel like it's all I've got.


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