Sunday, December 30, 2012

How Ethnic Are We..Or Do We Know?

Photo by Hanumann
If you call me "Sis" without knowing my name or assume that we are all "brothas" and "sistahs" because we carry some version of the hue of the same genealogy should I trust that you understand me? Right now I think I woke up in a new day and the day says that so-called black folks are the same, but not the same. We are one but we're different. We have a range of ethnic characteristics, languages and dialects, cultural variances and upbringings but we're still and are so-called "black."  Falling in line with the new-month question of "What Is Black?"--well, what is it? Is black something you call someone who is anywhere from the palest of brown hue to the bluest of ebony and everything in between including a straight nose, light eyes, thin lips, wide nose, tiny squinted eyes and thick lips and then all the hair textures we can throw up in between? Is black also the context from which all humankind first existed but stayed connected to its roots through other things like political and social partisanship, suffering, sacrifices and the like? Because it seems like that's what we're talking about now--today--last week--next year at the panels during the year-long celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation and bet I still will walk away from 2013 asking what the hell "black" is! Is black different from being African American or the same?

And if I go along with the new-age new-day talk about Latinos being black too (and I'm supposing we're only talking about the brown ones and not the blue eyed pale ones that I notice are never a part of the conversation) and the 1 drop rule applying still to all the people from the diaspora who that once (and still) applied to tell me how I'm free and what do I call all the people who feel like me--like us--like those who still don't know?


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At December 30, 2012 at 12:27 PM , Blogger eslyn said...

This is a magnificent wonderfully written piece, I hope at some point there is a panel discussion on this very topic. As I have been told all my life I am not black enough (whatever that means). Is it because I speak a certain way the color of my skin, or what I identify with on a every day basis, whether it be food, music or travel destinations or where I choose to live.

I would say considering my lineage I am "Black" or what today is termed "African American".

At December 30, 2012 at 5:51 PM , Blogger Rosechell Spencer III said...

I agree with the above comment. I loved reading this and might swing back around to read it a 5th time! (*really excited*).

I agree a lot with your article. In 2013, a community of people will still be struggling to identify, label, and categorize; will still be wrestling with the relevance of the "1-drop" rule; and will continue to be distracted from more grave matters.

If I was to too completely strip down the designation of black; I would say its just a social construct. There aren't too many people who are actually black or white (colored) in this world so it must be social. My American experience has taught me that when you walk into a room, a conference, etc.; assumptions will be made according to your perceived ethnicity. And in America; that usually falls into two broad categories of Colored (Black or Asian) or White. Plainly stated, if you're not White-- you're Colored (75% of the time black, 10% of the time Asian, and 15% excused).

My opinion is much more complicated, but stripping down and forcing an answer-- that's what I come up with.

At December 31, 2012 at 11:34 AM , Anonymous @AVGJOhanna said...

Race indeed is a social construct that needs to be destructed. The only rational conclusion that I can draw about "blackness" is the pride associated with our culture and heritage, as well as an awareness of the continual struggle, unfairness and inequity that we are likely to face because of our skin color. Cant say that any label of "black" or "not black" sjould ever be applied. However that is what I think people are referring to when the label is given.

At January 4, 2013 at 4:09 PM , Blogger eslyn said...

Great comment


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