My very diverse group of friends in graduate school, from places as far as Iran to Kuwait to Russia to India to China, marveled at my passion for my culture. Although many of them were somewhat oblivious to the very convoluted race issues in America, they had a desire to learn from my perspective. In some of those very difficult discussions, they bravely admitted their only perception of Blacks was what they saw on television- oversexed women or thuggish Black men. Thank God for President Obama and First Lady for a counter to those images.
It always amazed me that people from such foreign lands took more of an interest in Black culture than a host of Americans.
In America race is such a taboo topic. Start discussing race around Whites and watch them shift in their seat, tense up, look the other way or change the subject immediately. Likely you’ll witness all of the above. Many of their ideas about race fall into one or more of the categories below.
a) Everyone is afforded the same opportunities in America; and if you work hard you can do anything regardless of race.
b) Black people are so angry with us for something we didn’t even do. I wasn’t alive for slavery.
c) Slavery was so long ago. Let’s just move on!
d) I don’t see color.
e) I’m not racist. I have Black friends!
f) Black people are so sensitive about everything.
g) Don’t pull the race card with us, Marcus.
It really frustrates me that the masses don’t understand that slavery is directly correlated to, and a contributing factor to the detrimental state the Black community is in psychologically, economically and socially in 2011. We must never forget the Holocaust (and Jews won’t let you forget), but slavery, which has forever defined race in this country, should just be glossed over because some White folks have guilt? Even if we did forget slavery there was still the Black Codes, Jim Crow and the crack epidemic. Black folks’ problems in this country didn’t magically disappear in 1865. As frustrating as it is, I’m never surprised by the flippant attitude many Whites take on race. What I’ve never understood, however, are Blacks who make comments like this: “The problem with most Black people is that they look for race in everything.”
Are Black people looking for race in everything, or perhaps Blacks have historically been treated poorly based on the color of their skin, therefore we can’t simply live as if race doesn’t exist?
I don’t know how many times it has to be said for it to sink in: Black people are not a monolith. Now repeat. There is no daily conference call for all of us to go over the bullet points of the Black agenda. Obviously there are Blacks who could not care less about race. Others proudly proclaim they don’t believe in the collective as it relates to the Black community. And of course you have the Booker T. Washington’s who feel Black people should just pull themselves up by the bootstraps.
When I look in the mirror, I cannot ignore that I am a Black woman. Most of my experiences are centered around that identity. Blacks do not have the luxury of living their lives day in and day out without any consciousness of their race. For many, it can be the core of who they are. Not entirely who they are, but a major component. But individuals like the commenter who believe Blacks “look for race in everything,” and that it’s problematic, need a quick reminder. Blacks didn’t create the system. We’re trying to survive it.
Proclaiming, “Black people look for race in everything” is the sister statement to “don’t pull the race card” by someone refusing to acknowledge their White privilege. What is the race card by the way? I’ve been meaning to find out who was the inventor of said card. It’s like when people don’t understand why there is a need for organizations – NAACP, NABJ, CBC, HBCU’s – solely for Blacks. Well, because things are still not on an equal playing field. As much as we love to tote our President or Oprah around as proof that anyone can make it, we fail to address the fact that Obama and Oprah are the minority. Show me hundreds of Oprah’s then we can talk.
Race and racism are constructs here to stay. Any time the U.S. government continues to racially segregate through annual Census forms determining what areas will receive federal dollars based on race, please understand people in power have no desire for a post-racial anything. Kind of how in a capitalistic society there’s no desire to eradicate poverty and the lower class. It’s fascinating how the race issue is repeatedly dumped onto our laps as if we created the problem. Some of us are deemed too militant, too Pan-Africanist, or even wrongfully accused of being racist because we care about the advancement of our people. Sadly, the number of Blacks who also think like this are steadily rising.
If I did believe Black people always look for race in everything, which I don’t because it’s nothing more than a general assumption, I don’t necessarily think it’s problematic. Europeans created this social construct called race. And now Blacks are supposed to feel bad about being racially conscious and aware? Give me a break.
For those of us always looking for race in everything, don’t change. It’s only right there be a balance between us and the Negroes who have conveniently forgotten what it’s like to be Black living in America.