Discussion: Black Maybe?

“When we talk about black maybe, We talk about situations of people of color and because you are that color, You endure obstacles and opposition. And not all the time from other nationalities. Sometimes it comes from your own kind, Or maybe even your own mind.”Common

For the past month or so I’ve had discussions on race and culture with friends and family. As a recent graduate of a HBCU entering a work force where I once again became a minority, I have done a lot of readjusting of values and concepts.

Given my experiences this past year, and the fact that today is the first day of Black History Month, I have one question….Who is really keeping the black race behind?

I read a book in October titled “Authentically Black” by John McWhorter. I barely finished the book because it evoked so much emotion. Looking back, I think McWhorter is correct. He simply expressed that blacks want to be represented as intelligent, successful, responsible people while blaming “the white man” for our demise, but once we are behind closed doors with other races, we “dumb it down” and blame our own race for our faults.

I witnessed this countless times and am guilty of doing it myself.  Why must we play both sides of the fence? I believe the backlash from our community for lack of being “real” is what we fear, so we play the black power role. Yet when around other races, we lose the “black  power” role and become “the talented tenth.”  What is the cause of this?

Until the age of 12 I attended schools where I was 1 of 7 black kids in my class, so I am familiar with being around other races and growing an appreciation for other cultures. I have witnessed (and been a victim) of what attending a HBCU can do to the psyche.  I recently noticed that HBCU’s do a great job of making us pro black, but many people have neglected to realize that we STILL do not run anything. I can probably count on two hands the people I knew that majored in Entrepreneurship at HU. Many HBCU’s assimilate us (which is great, we all need to understand how to work in corporate America), but we are severely lacking ownership. There is an entire world of entertainment, business, technology, etc. which we have little to no say. The opposition to open eyes and ears to other cultures (fashion, music, movies, etc.) is baffling to me. I can name one work environment where the water cooler conversation doesn’t need to extend past “black culture.”  If we keep our minds closed to events that extend past our culture comfort level, how can we expect to move forward? If we continue to prefer watching Madea over The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, how can black casting in films get better? Don’t get me wrong, I know there are “political” and social occurences that directly affect the advancement of our race. For instance, the jail sentence for sale/distribution of Meth versus Crack. Who sells Meth and who sells Crack? I know it’s no coincidence that a convicted crack seller receives jail time much longer in nature than meth sellers.

Anyway, I could go on for days about race issues, I just noticed a trend of thinking and behavior from my people these past six months and wanted to hear some reasoning. Is it the man holding us back or ourselves?

Let me know what you think…

By: Sarah J


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