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.
One of the truly horrifying things about our race problem is the ever-present pressure of social and cultural judgment placed on communities of color. The West has established a great and persisting pointing finger of judgment which is always wagging condescendingly – and let's not forget fatally – at its targets of varying ethnicities.