Black Issues: Being Black

I am Black/African American. My culture stems from the collective experiences of various decentralized ethnic groups originating from West and Central Africa that were forcefully brought to the Americas as chattel. During years of dehumanization, deculturation, acculturation and assimilation my newly formed ethnic group constructed an identity unique to the locus of their captivity (USA) from acquired colloquialisms and restricted sociocultural space. After being physically “freed” from bonds of slavery, my ethnic group began to reconstruct their identity in attempts to separate themselves from the image of the slave.  They called themselves the “New Negro” —the antithesis of the “negro slave.”
From “Negro Spirituals” and Jazz/“Ragtime” to R&B and Hip Hop…. From Black art and African-American literature to African-American participation in the social sciences….. The “New Negro”, Black people, African-Americans, my ethnic group, began to make themselves known in the present world within the context of prejudice, discrimination, inequality and injustice. My ethnic group, while embodying the contempt of the dominant culture, created from ashes a culture that so many people enjoy today….. The culture we live and breathe…  Our reality….

While we still press our palms together and beg to be seen as true citizens of the United States (#blacklivesmatter), non-Black people get to freely enjoy the culture that my ethnic group created from nothing. They get to reap the benefits of black culture without enduring the consequences of being black… But real talk, this “double consciousness” [1] is no joke.  “[The] sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity….”[2]  We often fight to stay afloat while attempting to meet the demands of the dominant culture. Everything is interconnected, however. Mental slavery, the remnants of physical slavery, is unconsciously bequeathed to succeeding generations of Africans in America. Self-hate develops from internalized racism that eventually formed from “double consciousness.” I’ve heard some people even say we suffer from an “inferiority complex.”

Despite this, I love my culture, my ethnic group, my people. I am so proud to call myself Black/African American. You see, we spend so much time criticizing ourselves based on other people’s perception of us that we lose sight of the beauty and intricacy of Black Culture. There has been many times I’ve had to argue the “good” of Black Culture because the “bad” tends to be the general representation. With that I’d like to conclude that the love I have for my culture is interconnected with the love I have for myself, as Ubuntu states, “I am because we are.”

[1] Du Bois. “Strivings of the Negro People.” 1897. The Atlantic Monthly.

[2] Ibid.

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