Part 4 of 4 | See Previous Post
In the United States, Africans aren't Black.
Black Americans and Africans are two distinctly different groups. It's difficult for people to understand this because of our shared complexion and origin, but Black Americans are their own people.
Black Americans have an experience in the United States that is specific to the transatlantic slave trade, not their origin in Africa. But African immigrants and first generation Africans have an identity outside of US slavery - especially because they have the privilege of knowing what country in Africa that they originated from.
Part 3 of 4 | See Previous Post
Kim: I’m just so proud of my people - especially my complexion and darker - standing up and taking ownership of Blackness. I'm not cowering to these privileged norms they’re trying to impose on us. Identity's a two-way street. You can't just blindly assert yourself in this world and demand acceptance. You earn it. We all had to.
So today, we have documents that describe big dramatic things in the most "just the facts, ma'am" language possible, like a captain's log usually does. And we found this article from 1853 that's a good example of this.
In the article, a writer named William Chambers went out to witness and report on slave auctions. Apparently enough people had written about these in a very melodramatic and sensationalistic way that Chambers felt like somebody needed to go out and give a true, factual account.
John Ellison Conlee: Everything is described precisely as it occurred, without passion or prejudice. It would not have been difficult to be sentimental on a subject which appeals so strongly to the feelings but I preferred telling the simple truth.
Esther Kibreab: Maybe the goal's love and understanding. And I know that's, it's a little too - but love and understanding. Love has always been my goal. But I don't know if that's too hippie -
Kim: And see I go back to the analogy of people of color and white people being in this abusive inescapable relationship. We're born into this narrative where [people of color] are the abused party - there's nothing we did to deserve this. And there's nothing I can do to get me out of this relationship. And just because we're trapped and I can't get out doesn't make me want to meet my attacker with love. All I want for them to do is to take accountability for what they've done and what they're going to continue to do. I'm not telling any white people they're not racist.
Esther Kibreab: No, I don't want to tell them that either!
Part I of 2 | See Later Post
People of color are mostly transracial. If not by our actions, then by how we're perceived. There are those who denounce their identities. Some people are inspired to assume the identities of others. Race isn't always concrete. And within some groups, especially the African-American community, acceptance is a constant negotiation.
Among Black people, skin color does not guarantee that people will perceive you as Black. For example, mixed-Black people and Africans often fail to recognize how often Black people reject them. For African-Americans, skin color and origin don't equate to race as much as culture. Despite their seemingly Black appearances, both Africans and mixed-Black people often fail to acknowledge their further proximity to actual Blackness (versus perceived). And in North America, especially during the Black Lives Matter movement, that mindset undermines the Black lives taken by police (and other forces) specifically because of their ancestral and cultural relationships to slavery within this country. This pattern has diluted the Black identities that deserve our utmost attention; and there are ways to align with Blackness without marginalizing those most affected by its consequences.
Communities of color fault white people for being colorblind, but we commit the same mistake by Black-washing entire groups as well - especially when Black people have their own unique culture and identity that deserves the same sacredness as other groups are afforded.
"My grandmother's grandmother was a slave. I spent many years living with her. I wasn't consciously processing how slavery impacted her life - but my grandmother was open about her feelings towards white people. Slavery passed down a trauma to me that people outside the African-American community fail to understand. We're 'trained to go' in the Bay Area - a lot of Black families here came from the South - we react instinctively to being made to feel inferior."
In line with this, prison therapist, James Gilligan, has noted that at the base of most violent acts is a presence of a profound feeling of disrespect. People tend to commit violent acts when they feel disrespected, and they don't feel as though there is any other way to gain that respect back.
But this is a society that doesn't hesitate to disrespect the disadvantaged, whether the disadvantaged in question are the poor, people of color, individuals labeled by the state as criminals, or other vulnerable individuals or groups. Oftentimes, on the part of those most vulnerable, the attitude that violence is the answer doesn't seem that unreasonable.
Part 1 of 4 | See Later Post
Kim: Stop using the word Black as loosely as people use the term, Mexican. Africans aren't Black. As Black people, WE get to choose who we see as one of us. You aren't in this village, so stop assuming our identity because it's popular now. By doing so, you're taking part in our genocide. Respect our culture without insisting on having access to it.