a thousand words

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Unbearable Lightness Of Blackness

Rachel Dolezal’s masquerade as a black woman is important but not for any of the reasons you are reading about. It’s important for the ones no one will say. That she can even pretend to be black is of course because “Black people” come in a variety of colors in this country. And that’s because of the widely held belief that we have “dominant” genes. This Dominant Gene Theory is really the Contaminant Gene Theory, in that Black genes contaminate another race's purity.

We all know that blackness in this nation is more than color. It’s culture, family, experience, knowledge and a host of other things which link any given black person with hundreds of years of history filled with triumph, pain, brilliance, oppression, and the unique situation as the descendants of American slaves.

You don’t get to be part of that with a wink and a hairstyle.

But we, the Black people, often devalue our culture and history for many reasons, none the least of which, is there is a tireless propaganda machine at work which exalts the majority race and denigrates and marginalizes all others.

Thus, we accept anyone who wants to be a part of our tribe, to bathe in the waters of negritude and enjoy our zest for life, our position as the soul and conscious of America, our food, music, style, swagger and language.

But should we? When you think of it, American Blackness is a pretty exclusive club, forty-two million out of eight billion people. And the price of admission is not money but the very essence of the human spirit. Why should we let these wannabes just walk in and be welcome?

We shouldn’t. In fact, we should be pissed about what Rachael Dolezal is doing. Just as pissed as we are when a Black person claims to be New Black, trying to run away from association with their race. But you see, dark skin don’t rub off and if the white gene were “dominant,” how many people who are now mixed race do you think would still claim blackness?

If it were up to me, people could be anything they wanted. I like to dream of a world where you could just say “I’m a woman” or “I’m Black” and society would respect that. But it’s not up to me and that dream is a long way off. So, for now, as funny as this woman is, her situation and the resulting internet phenomenon is yet another painful reminder of the heaviness of race in our damaged society, the privilege of the majority and the arrogance of those who continuously seek to appropriate the benefits of blackness but pay none of its toll.

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