Complexity/Diversity of Blackness.

You know what bothers me? It bothers me that when someone sees you are black, they assume that you are the same as every black person. I hate that. I dislike the fact that if you talk like you’re from the suburbs and dress like an indie kid, people call you an Oreo. They say you’re not black enough and if you talk with slang, you’re too black. What constitutes that I am black? Is it the way I talk or the people I associate with? Or is it my parentage and ancestry? This seems to have been confused.

Black people are diverse. When you look at a Caribbean person, an African person, or a North American black person, there is huge differences. Within the Caribbean group there are different islands, within the African group there are different countries, dialects, and tribes, and within the North American group there are differences in culture, perceptions, and style. Beyond that, black people within Europe have even more complexities and differences. Not only are we from different places, but we speak different languages, live in different cultures, and interact with one another in different ways. It’s a beautiful thing. This is the reason why when a person comes to me and says I am either too black or not black enough, I get upset. To be black is to be diverse, so how can you place me in a blanket category?

This confused definition of blackness is not limited to outside the black community, but it is prevalent from within. It saddens me to see that shallow things such as colorism or the way some may talk become huge dividers. There have been many times that a black person has “questioned my blackness” because of the clothes I wear and the way I carry myself. Who must this define my “blackness”. I believe that it is important that black people begin to redefine what blackness is. Why must our stereotype be that we sing and dance the best? Why aren’t our business, law, and medical heros spoken of more prominently? Why are their names confined to the smallest month in the year? When people talk about Beyoncé they look at her body and her entertainment presence before they look at her business savvy. As a people, blacks place entertainment over education. We would rather have our children dance, sing, and play athletics then get

As a people, blacks place entertainment over education. We would rather have our children dance, sing, and play athletics then get an post-secondary education. I do not deny that we do have a gifting to do those things as a people, but why not use those skills as a pathway to higher education. Entertainment is a yoke. It holds you in by the shackles of public opinion. When you are in the realm of entertainment, you are disposable. Education is power. It allows you to hold your career and future in your hands. You are not held by popular opinion. If you work hard and are excellent in your field. Yes, there are certain barriers that black people must face to reach levels of success. Yes, it is easier to sing, dance, and play athletics. But we need to begin to redefine who we are. We need to stop shaming our fellow brothers and sisters for not fitting the narrow mold we have placed our people in. There is more to this world. There is a world that requires a douse of deep rich espresso.

All in all, the current stereotype of what is means to be “black” is offensive. The fact that you are expected to be an entertainer and not a valuable contributor in other places of society is deplorable. Here’s to hoping that a shift is perceptions within and without of the black community will be shifted in order to bring us to a better place as a people.

*Originally posted on*