Reason First: Can Someone Be Too Black or Not Black Enough?
As presidential hopefuls Kamala Harris and Cory Booker eye the highest office in the land, will their blackness (or lack thereof) stop them?
The issue over how “black” an individual is should be nil. Whatever the people who say that they’re “black” is actually a floating abstraction or concept are not grounded in reality. What does it mean to be “black?" How does someone qualify for such a tribalist notion? Presidential candidates and Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris have both been accused of not being black enough. Most recently, Senator Booker has stated that senator Harris has nothing to prove. It’s as if to be black means you must subscribe to the unknown and unknowable, know who Playboi Carti is dating, and enjoy pig feet smothered in hot sauce. What it means to be black should pale in comparison to being a rational, confident individual.
This whole question seems to have been a part of history. As far back as when the first African slaves in America planted their feet in Virginia soil, the query about who is black or not has been the topic for centuries. From “field negroes” to “house negroes,” criticizing the latter for their light skin, to the paper bag test in the 1920s, the debate and resulting scars have been both physical and psychological. While skin color and chemical makeup have been talking points in this whole discourse, it is more so about cultural identification rather than melanin content and hair texture. The way forward out of this quagmire of collectivism is to have a colorblind attitude towards other human beings. In many ways, impoverished white children in rural Appalachia are more “black” than African American children living in the suburbs. For the Senators to try to demonstrate just how black they are would be like those children trying to show their whiteness despite their economic status.
Does being black mean that one has to know when The Jamie Foxx Show show is going to air on BET? Collectivism is such a corrupt idea is because it inhibits the individual from achieving full selfishness. Individuals stunt their growth in thinking when they seek to be a part of the great “we.”
And for black people, it may be the toughest. If you speak too properly, you’re acting white. If you dress too primly, then you’re being white. While black culture and American culture have been intertwined since its inception, it should not be looked upon as the only culture available in the country. And those black people who prefer Pearl Jam and seek vegan diets, are they somehow less black? Especially since white rock bands are rooted in the black music of gospel and blues and vegans can be of all stripes, this is just ridiculous.
At one point, the mockery may have been a warning. In America at one point, it was illegal in some states for blacks to become literate. So for blacks to tell other people with the same skin color that they’re acting white was to forewarn them of the possibility that mental and bodily harm could be done to them if they exhibit too much "whiteness." Now, those trends are coming back like a horrible case of herpes.
Many thought that the election and re-election of President Obama signaled and end to racism. Boy, were they wrong. The man, whose policies were horrendous, was also questioned about his blackness. He set the precedent that not only is it okay to be not only articulate, but to have a sense of character about oneself. The blackness squabble will go on particularly among direct descendants from mixed race couples. As Mr. Obama was a product of such an arrangement, so do the results of miscegenation grow up either perpetually confused or assured in the fact that the notion of individualism is sovereign. There is no such thing as being black or not being black enough. The concentration of pigment within a human being should have no bearing on what kind of brain that they possess.
It is the thought that is most important in any individual. And Senators Harris and Booker should know better.