(ThyBlackMan.com) I’m black. At least I think I’m black. Both my parents are black. My family is mostly black. Sure, there are some other ethnicities sprinkled in, but heck, whose family doesn’t have that? So yeah, I’m black. I think. Am I black enough? Good question. I like fried chicken, basketball and big butts. That qualifies for being black, right? But I also like quiche and baseball. I don’t watch BET or TV One, so maybe I’m not black. But two of my favorite television shows of all-time are ‘The Cosby Show’ and ‘My Wife and Kids’, so maybe I am black. Personally, I thought OJ did it. Kobe too. But I defended Michael Vick to no end when he was being persecuted and prosecuted for his role in the dog fighting scandal.
Black enough for you? I love Jay-Z and Phonte’, formerly of Little Brother fame. But I can’t for one second tolerate Lil Wayne, Drake or 2Chainz. I would have never voted for Jesse Jackson. I never thought he had what it took to be president. But I voted for Barack Obama. Not because he was black, but because he was the best candidate for the position. So basically we’re back at square one. Do any of these things have anything to do with how black I am? To be honest, I really don’t know. Sadly though, many of us have been accused of not being black enough.
There was a time before I was brought into existence in the early seventies when being black meant marching on cities, drinking out of water fountains marked for ‘whites only’ and deciding not to seat oneself at the back of a bus. It meant standing up for our rights as human beings. Not being considered as only three-fifths of a human being. It was fighting for equality, even if in the most extremist manner, as was the direction of the Black Panther Party.
It was seeking to change the political and social injustice levied upon us by non-violent methods, as was the goal of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And though they were all working to achieve the same common goal, unfortunately there were those who didn’t feel Dr. King was black enough because he wasn’t willing to do certain things to get his message across. Of course the ultimate irony is that he died fighting to his last breath to bring about the ability to even be acknowledged as blacks in America. I’d venture to say that he would qualify as being black enough.
So what is ‘black enough’? Are there certain acts or actions one must perform to be garnered with this title? Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately in this case), there’s no handbook to being black. Does being black resign one to not listening to classical music, learning the fine arts or horseback riding? Does being black limit one from reading classic American literature or enjoying a play that isn’t about Madea, baby mamma drama or cheating mates?
Often we hear black people say, ‘There’s just certain things we don’t do.’ Skydiving, bungee jumping, rock/country music, hockey, surfboarding, the list goes on. But in our haste to make light of anyone who shares our ethnicity to engage in any of these activities and a myriad of others, we miss the point that above being black, we are first and foremost individuals. And our individuality says more about who we are than identifying with our ethnic organization.
I may never be black enough. But I am certainly proud to be black. Like my great-aunt used to say, ‘You gonna be black ‘til the day you die, and there’s nothing you can do about it.’ That was enough validity for me. I know who I am. I love who I am. I wouldn’t change who I am just for the sake of being considered black enough.
I promise to allow my children the freedom to choose who they want to be and it won’t be predicated on the fact that their mother and father are black. And for the record if someone ever decides to come out with a book about being black enough I probably wouldn’t read it anyway. I’m still trying to finish Pride and Prejudice.
Staff Writer; Bruce M. Williams