Black Enough? : ThyBlackMan

Monday, April 23, 2018

Black Enough?

October 3, 2012 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( 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


9 Responses to “Black Enough?”
  1. If I was a writer for this site I’d write a counter article. This piece and the comments show a distinctly superficial idea of what it is to be Black.

  2. Sensamelia says:

    I personally don’t believe that I should put myself in a box, I am free to try anything, go anywhere and live life. I will not stop myself from doing or trying somthing because its not considered to be black. WHO decides that anyway, the black stereotypes enforcer? SMH..

  3. lewis orr says:

    @Bruce, I’m glad you didn’t take my critique of your article as a personal attack. My intend was to clear up some misconcepts about the term Black and people of color. If you know your Black History the term has gone from an insult to a badge of pride. Only thing very few people know how and why. People today just accept what they hear without any question or study, so there is a lot of false concepts and misleading terms.

    It’s known there has been an effort to dummy down the proletariat in the information age, and it’s reflected in the low academic scores in America. So in the Black community that’s devastating. That’s why I respond to misnomers, especially those concerning Black History. The term Black has been hijacked and used for nefarious purposes. When the term Black was adopted by the Black Power Movement of the 60’s it was considered an insult, the Movement transformed it into a pledge of love and loyalty to ones people. Either you love and are loyal to your people or you’re not.

    Now that it’s been hijacked you’re saying it’s a challenge, being that it’s become a blanket term, and people don’t know what it is to be Black. Debating over trivial matters of whose Black? How does that help the Black Movement move forward? America has been passed up in the Black Power Movement by Brazil, which never suffered the effects of the Willie Lynch Papers during slavery, and there is no divide between Black men and women. They also have the largest Black population outside of Nigeria and the fastest growing. America has lost its way and fallen behind and it seems no one here is aware of it. That’s the real issue.

  4. @ Lewis – thank you for your feedback…this article is not a representation of how I perceive myself as a black man. As I said at the end, I know who I am and I love who I am. I was born Black and I will certainly die Black. I am very tuned into the black plight and that was the purpose for this article (and the series to follow) to begin with. My support of positive Black role models, events and dialogue in our communities, business and interpersonal (love) relationships and just as a people is never-ending and undying.

    This was more tongue-in-cheek at those individuals who feel it is their obligation to decide who gets to be considered ‘Black Enough’. I have read most of the books that you listed, and enjoyed gaining perspective from them…however, that still does not qualify anyone, regardless of how ‘Black’ they are to determine who does not get to be considered as such.

    This is really about how we interact as an ethnic organization. Its about how we continue to perpetrate the same acts against one another that were installed (and instilled) in us through ‘The Willie Lynch’ mentality. It is about how we still make comments like, ‘Oh, she’s cute for a dark skinned girl’, or ‘Oh, she has good hair’, in reference to a light skinned woman. It’s about how we look at Black people who have ‘made it’ and assumed they’ve forgotten their roots, where they came from or just ‘sold out’.

    I could go on, but a lot of these thoughts and others will be addressed in future articles as I mentioned earlier…so please keep an eye out for them…again, thank you for your feedback as it definitely makes me consider the content of my article.

  5. Ron Marshall says:

    Well written. Quick to get you think about yourself. I like bungee jumping and Madea. Loved The Autobiography of Frederick Douglas and Frank Sinatra. Love Lacrosse and basketball. So I feel you!

  6. lewis orr says:

    Of course being Black entails loving and caring for your own people, but it’s more than that. People have been talking unity and coming together for years, but what has it gotten us? Without self-knowledge and education it’s just talk. A school friend of mine told me the other day, “That you don’t know, that you don’t know, until you know!”

  7. To me, being Black enough only means that you love and support the people who look like you, more than you love and support any other group. If we were to go by this definition, not many of us are Black enough. I base this on the fact of how we treat one another, how much money we spend outside our community, and how unwilling we are to help each other. But this was a plan created during slavery that continues to this day to keep us divided.

    The perfect example is this article. If we as a people are not willing to love, support, and protect one another, then no, we are not Black enough. This is what our ancestors did in order for us to get this far, which as a people we’ve seem to have forgotten, which is the reason for the problems we have in our community today. I guess most of us really believe in the American dream, which has unfortunately become a nightmare for a lot of us.

    Black Unity means financial independence and happiness

  8. Patsy says:

    Interesting article! The only thing I would change is to always write Black with a capital B.

  9. lewis orr says:

    I’d like to answer the questions asked in this article. I in no means intend to denigrate the author, but I would like to clear up some blind spots. The author asked “I’m I Black enough?”. Black today has become a generic term that encompasses all people of color, something it was never intended to do when it came out of the Black Power Movement.

    Prior to The MOVEMENT if one person of color called another person of color black, there would be a throw-down drag-out fight on the spot! The reason being there was no pride in blackness. After the Black Panthers formed and started teaching people of color of their rich Black heritage, and open primary schools offering free breakfasts to encourage intercity children to attend. Guarding the neighborhoods against violent crimes and drugs, with armed guards. People began to view these men with pride as strong Black Men. Soon after people began to greet one another with a Black Power salute. And when James Brown put out the record “I’m Black and I’m Proud” everyone jumped on board. That was a unique time in history for Black People.

    Now let’s look at Black today, You have the Black People that consider themselves the prodigy of the Black Movement, these are the Black People, not a skin color but a state of mind. Then we have the generic Black person who is the recipient of the benefits of the Black Struggle but feels no allegiance to it. Then we have the Bourgois colored man who never really accepted the Black Power Movement and choose to be a second class citizen and emulate the upper class even at the expense of his fellow brothers.

    You see there are many that use the term Black and know nothing about Black. You want to know if you’re Black enough? You’ll have to make that decision. And you wanted to know about a book on being Black, well they’re many. The Autobiography of Jack Johnson, Paul Robeson, Soul On Ice, Malcolm X, Hurricane, by Rubin Carter. After you read those books get back with me and I’ll give you a reading list. When someone says, you aren’t Black enough, they’re questioning whether you are Black or generic. Only you can answer that question.

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