Are expansive views “divergent”?
When speaking to Blacks and African diaspora, be careful if you use words such as “prejudice” and “different lifestyles.” This is because most Blacks and African diaspora are accustomed to calling whites prejudiced and racist, and claiming whites are 100% to blame for Black and African diaspora problems, societal problems, and world problems.
The moment we, Blacks and African diaspora, attempt to look inward with a more critical lens of our own people, there is instant and nonstop push back. Yes, this is linked to historical and contemporary oppression, but it is also linked to many Blacks and African diaspora being trapped in the past and being trapped in narrow self-identity and narrow cultural-identity.
This is why most Blacks and African diaspora consider expansive views to be divergent. This is why most Blacks and African diaspora feel quickly threatened when they encounter people (within-race and across-race) who do not have the same beliefs, same life decisions, and same lifestyles.
Pardon me for saying “beliefs, life decisions, and lifestyles.” Those words and phrases frighten and challenge many Blacks and African diaspora. It is alarming because it demonstrates within-group diversity. It demonstrates the fact that many Blacks and African diaspora (in some cultures and some societies) have more freedom to believe whatever they choose and live however they choose. While many Blacks and African diaspora claim to want social equality and equity, and claim to want freedom and liberation, most Blacks and African diaspora only believe this should be applied to ONE belief system and ONE form of life. TRUE Blackness. This is how theory differs from reality.
Another reason many Blacks and African diaspora are alarmed by “beliefs, life decisions, and lifestyles” is because they automatically think you are talking about LGBTQ as though LGBTQ is the primary, and only, form of within-group changes and diversity. This is where a battle begins — the ongoing fight over “gay people need to stop stealing our Black People Are Oppressed Hat” and “LGBTQ is sinful and this is a fact across religions”. Contrary to how diversity training has taught many humans to hide their beliefs and play nice in the human sandbox, the majority of Blacks and African diaspora remain prejudiced of, and condone discrimination towards, LGBTQ.
But the crux of my point, “beliefs, life decisions, and lifestyles” means ALL ways we must challenge narrow identities and narrow categorizations of Blackness and African diaspora. Never assume “beliefs, life decisions, and lifestyles” primarily and only means LGBTQ. “Beliefs, life decisions, and lifestyles” are a wide array of diversity and expansion that include but are not limited to, in no particular order:
- Mental health and physical health: We must seek help and stop relying upon healing ourselves
- How we define and what we expect of girlhood, boyhood, womanhood, and manhood
- Further gender egalitarianism
- Challenge patriarchy
- Challenge male dominance and Black male dominance
- Balance self-identity and self-love with cultural identity and cultural love
- Do not equate Blackness, Black girl/womanhood, and Black boy/manhood with oppression. We have knowledge, intellect, cultures, histories, and current environments far beyond oppression
- Another mention of mental health and physical health: We must stop equating bad health with Blackness. Stop considering bad health “just a part of being Black”. Family background and culture influence health but we must remain active in improving our health.
- Understand and give voice to Black and African diaspora childless-by-circumstance and childfree-by-choice
- Childless-by-circumstance and childfree-by-choice: Stop judging them. Stop essentially forcing people to have children to prove their Black womanhood and Black manhood. People need resources for sexual health and reproductive choices.
- Challenge religion and, when necessary, religious institutions
- Challenge all politics and all politicians — stop being loyal to Democrats
- Expand informal education and formal education — strong families and strong schools require funding and also require our involvement in community programs and community organizations (we all make time for that which we value — we ALL)
There are other ways Black freedom and Black liberation have allowed us to balance self-identity with cultural-identity. Balance self-love with cultural love. Balance self-freedom with cultural freedom. This balance is how we must recognize how far Blacks and African diaspora have come and how far we must go to reach our desired and deserved finish lines. We will never get further if we attribute problems to white conservatives and improvements to white liberals (which includes Black leaders who are well regarded because they are approved by white liberals). We will never get further if we keep forcing ourselves and forcing each other to exist in, and remain in, narrow identities and narrow life decisions.
Keeping a narrow view + keeping a narrow focus = keeping narrow goals and having minimum outcomes
If you read this and consider it “divergent,” I firmly recommend expanding your beliefs and expanding your behaviors.