Earlier this week we learned that some teammates don’t think Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is “Black enough.” Sigh. Not this again. This not “Black enough” couldn’t really be explained or dissected because no one can really say what it means exactly. Well wait, Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman did write, “Well-spoken blacks are seen by some other blacks as not completely black. Some of this is at play.” Oh ok. That settles it. Wilson is not “Black enough.” Side eye
Wilson grew up in Virginia in what seems to be a pretty solid middle class life. His parents were professionals, his father was a lawyer. His grandfather was the president of Norfolk State University. So, yes, he might come from a different background from his fellow NFL teammates, but that doesn’t mean he’s not Black. As I commented on the Twitter, my homegirl’s mother and his grandmama are prayer partners so if that’s not Black then I don’t know what is!
Wilson is not the first and definitely won’t be the last Black person accused of not being Black enough. I grew up middle class Black with two professional parents who are first generation college graduates. I was surrounded by Black two parent families, Black lawyers, doctors, teachers, social workers, business owners, corporate America climbers, HBCU graduates, AKAs, Deltas, Alphas, Jack & Jillers, Martha’s Vineyard vacationers, movers and shakers, the whole “talented tenth” as it were. I attended a Black church and was in an all Black Girl Scout troop. Being around “successful” Black people who had advanced degrees, owned homes, and still ate chitlins and collard greens was my world and reality. And while I was in class with mostly white people, my mama always kept us grounded. And I became outspoken Black girl in class, futilely trying to kick the truth to the young white youth. I then went on to a HBCU where I was surrounded by a diverse group of Black people who didn’t fit into one identity. And then I entered the real world and learned how to straddle two worlds.
It took a long time to get to this place, but I don’t feel the need to try to prove my Blackness, not prove my Blackness, be someone else’s definition of Black, or put all my energy into trying to change people’s perception of Black. As a writer I write about the Black life that I know. I don’t sugar coat, embellish or exaggerate. But I know for certain that I’m Black. That the world sees me as Black. And I’m pretty sure that Wilson does too.
The whole thing confounds me. Do people not know that Wilson is always going to be Black, no matter if people see him as a different kind of Black person? That won’t matter at all if the cops ever show up. Wilson won’t be able to be like, “well people only think I’m like 82% Black anyway, so please don’t arrest me.” Looking back at my life experiences, I realize that for me being Black was never this, or that, it just was. And even now, to me, it just is. We can try to bottle it or define it, but there will always be a difference of opinion or an anomaly that proves otherwise. To me being Black is the “worst” of us and the “best” of us and everything in between. The middle.
The middle which is often forgotten, an untold story, because it’s just regular, normal, and everyday. It’s filled with people who pay their bills on time, own houses and live in apartments, go to work, attend church/mosques/temples, get degrees, raise and marry off their children, get sick, make babies out-of-wedlock, celebrate golden anniversaries, travel the world, have cookouts, play bid whist, work in corporate America, the community & the government, get profiled by the police, have family members who made it to the suburbs and those still in the hood or the country, keep JET and Ebony on the coffee table, get perms orlocs or keep it natural, live in cities and small towns, share inside jokes that the majority will never understand, make individual strides, fuck up, and have personal setbacks. Just trying to live the best life they can all the while being Black in America. Whatever that means.
Whatdo you think about the “not Black enough” comments?”
Diana Veiga is a Spelman woman, a DC resident, and a freelance writer. Of course, she’s also on Twitter.