Am I “Too White”? Consider the Following…

By:  H.T., Website:  Rogue Black Nerd

I was born a middle class black child.  My name was picked from my father, and his name came from the fact that it was similar to his father’s name and that his father wanted him to have a professional sounding name; not unlike the reason my mother selected my name despite her clear animus towards my father.  When it came to the issue of being considered black enough, I wish people considered why I struggle with the concept of blackness as far as it goes with everyday life.  For one, let’s expand on the concept of African American culture as it’s seen mainly by all.  Africans often hold onto their culture well into immigrating in America, as do Haitians and black people from the West Indies, even to an extent Afro-Latin people fall under this.  But what happens when your culture is almost entirely written outside of all the other cultures that you could potentially be a part of?  What’s more, what if you realize that almost the entire narrative of many parts of the culture you were raised in was written people who at the very least look nothing like you or share your life experiences?  This is the state of African American culture.

Despite what I yelled at Jason Black in our argument about Black Panther, I have some semblance of what happens with black culture as far as black peoples’ effect on writing our own narrative.  If your like me, you realize that so much of the black culture that made it into mainstream America and wasn’t vehemently opposed by it had a white person either making it, pushing it, controlling it or what have you.  This isn’t necessarily bad as there’s many groundbreaking TV shows, movies, albums, actors/actresses and athletes that white people helped get to prominence.  However, this isn’t to say that black people can’t on some level build up our own brands.  As I’ve said before, Tyler Perry is a prime example of what can happen when black people dedicate themselves to controlling the narrative on our people.  However, it must be noted that again, when the people pulling the strings aren’t like you, they often don’t have your best interests at heart.  Case in point, the NCAA with players, namely black ones.

Now, how does this tie to my issues with blackness?  Well, keep in mind what I said:  African AMERICAN culture is heavily curated by people that look nothing like us, so it’s not hard to conclude when you look around that the image of which I’m told I don’t fit in is also one that is created by forces beyond my control.  I don’t deny that there are reasons that my relatives that live in the hood act, talk, and view the world differently that are a construct beyond either of our control, but after a while I can’t help but notice that the idea of blackness that I allegedly don’t fit in is very, very narrow; namely the image that sells well to voyeuristic people of all other races that want the imposed idea of danger of living as a black person.

Fact is I don’t act like a black person from the hood not because I look down on them, but because we grew up in different environments where how we were socialized is a different beast entirely.  I only had to learn to coexist, they on many levels had to learn to survive, both their neighbors and the police.  Never mind that if we’re being honest, the state of black people in the inner city, aka the image of blackness that apparently I don’t fit in and thus makes me an Oreo or straight up coon, is the result of a combination of victim glorification & empty promises and greed & apathy.  Interestingly enough, the glorification of often toxic behavior is bolstered by liberal minded execs, but often consumed more so by conservative-minded people.  So this raises the question:  who’s worse, the liberals for putting it out there and profiting from toxic images of black people while claiming to be so pro-black and thus making this the collective image of blackness or the conservatives who take these often manufactured and toxic images of blackness and black masculinity even tho they had a hand in creating the political fervor that at times can get people killed?

When you’re called “not black enough” people assume you are automatically conservative, but I often notice something else that has happened with blackness politics wise.  Most notably, left-leaning black people are often the kind of black kids who 10 years ago you would have assumed were more conservative, but in the age of social media, the social currency for being the black conservative is very limited both in amount and in places where it’s beneficial.  As a black man, I’ve seen second and first hand that being the black man that often defends conservative points that tend to favor white people on a local level only gets you so far.  Politics wise, both the left and the right are guilty of finding the most prototypical black person they can contact to speak their points seeing as either way you slice it, it helps to gain voters from any community by saying “we don’t hate you, join us!”  By making one of them their champion.

While I can understand how some minorities tend to vote more republican such as porn star Mika Tan, however when black people like me (middle to upper class black people) tend to go hard either way we vote, it must be noted that middle class black people who exist on the left tend to both push an agenda that causes there to be a huge rift in who will join them.  You go left, your expected to not have any preferences with women, whether it be appearance or even if they were born women.  What’s more, the left pushes an ideal that one can’t help but feel as if all people like me get called Oreos and told we want to be white.  Black liberalism seems to have gone down the road of chasing down the white utopia dream.  While I can understand why hoteps lean right, I can’t help but say that the super duper pro-black elements of social media tend to be the ones that are vehemently against anything created or favored by white people and thus create conflict.  In the end, this raises the question:  are people like me too white to be considered black by today’s standards?  I don’t know.  Having said all this, I really think it’s a matter of perception.  Honestly, the belief that I’m not black enough for not being a thug, or woke enough, or pro black enough or whatever is honestly the most annoying shit I can think of but when you put things into perspective like I’ve attempted to do, you come to realize that in fact that’s all it is.  Perception.

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