Really, I just can't figure this out. How is it? Why is it that people tend to define WHAT BLACK IS by the "negative"?
I mean, look at this:
quote:
Chatting at NABJ, Boston Globe columnist Derrick Jackson and I admitted the unadmittable: We aren't "really" black-- or, as Jackson later explained, "really black in the eyes of some people."

...I suspected that most of my classmates hadn't read "Little Women" 10 times or plopped before the TV, notebook paper in hand, to record lyrics from Rodgers and Hammerstein's annual "Cinderella" telecast.
Hmmm... pretty curious because this same author alludes to the "Acting White" phenomenon even as she herself pondered how she "suspected" her [Black] classmates where not intellectually curious, inspired and excited enough to even dare do something as UN-Black like doing reading, etc. outside of the classroom. If I'm wrong in my reading... then what is the "acceptable" Black book comparable to "Little Women" that she should have read 5 or 10 times over to prove here young Black "authenticity"?

quote:
Jackson... figured things out early, too. "I can't play basketball," he begins. "I've been told I don't talk right and can't swear right... I couldn't even say 'Right on' right, no matter how many 'Free Angela Davis' buttons I wore. Friends tried to give me dance lessons in college...
Even more clear and pernicious stereotypes here. Damn, I didn't know that in order to be Black I had to be able to ball, dance, etc., etc. Now, we often get criticized in American society (by Whites) about being overly sensitive and I often beg to differ. But this is one case where I have to change sides. Though most likely said in jest, the Jackson guy really needs to lay off the drugs... Though he says "every one of those 'you're not black' moments sticks in your memory," what seems to be wrong with either his recall, his perceptiveness or his experiences if there wasn't at least as many moments affirming his Blackness as it was with him however he was non-dancing, no ballin' or whatever or whomever he was/is?

Seriously? If there are so many people as it seems who want to make this an issue - in some arguments those who make these types of "observations" (read: John McWhorter) call themselves the Silent MAJORITY - then how is it that they never felt validated or affirmed by at least one other Black person who was not your [RACIST] stereotypical Black?

I had my "Blackness" questioned growing up constantly (and still do) within my own family with the typical remarks about my choice in music or other behavior not fitting the "norm". Not that anyone is suppose to be like me or that my experience is typical or even that extreme but, even in the midst of those, perhaps, unintentional slights... there were countervailing messages, affirming or loving messages with signals that I was embraced regardless and even respected all the more because of the "positive" things that may have been deemed atypical. (And I'm talking about my family where we love to talk about folk... especially each other.)

I just don't understand... No doubt, because my experience and the way I dealt with my own little encounter with the Indentity Police, my own perception of them, was perhaps just different. Though I can remember those "moments" clear as day, I didn't and haven't come away with a net negative feeling. But this is all rather funny, because the other day, I joked with my daughter about kids going through Identity Crisis. She's a teenager so I think you know what I mean. Anyway, however the conversation got started, I topped it off with a little remark about how White kids with either hippie, punk or gothic jet black or multicolored hair must suffer from some extreme Identity Crisis.

I mentioned that only put all this into perspective. It is what it is. An Identity Crisis is just that: An Identity Crisis. We all go through it and we all have to learn how to navigate through it. Part of doing that is not buying into those messages that say that you don't have a place - somewhere where you belong. Unfortunately, when Black people internalize the most problematic of negative stereotypes, react with hypersensitivity (IMO) to those messages that, perhaps, say no more than "you seem different" and fail to self-validate themselves... then we have a situation that is a universal human phenomenon projected as if it is something that especially plagues the Black Community.

What's even more tragic is when those in a position to dispell some of the myths and aid us in moving beyond Knee-Jerk sentiments fail to even do more than just beef up these Urban Legends without providing the proper perspective to something that's hardly a mystery, IMO.


Article QUOTES from commentary published in the Washington Post:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20...AR2005081102060.html

...
Original Post
You are right to characterize the 'BLACK BOX' as a contrivance. Indeed it is.

That 'black box' means so many things to different people, different things. Each new generation encounters the next iteration of each interpretation.

It is (almost) inevitable that a negative comes out of activities in the 'black box.' While that box, as we perceive it, is the intended create of achieving 'a good' by counteracting the application to us as a people, that very creation is founded in the color-construction of our society. (I didn't want that sentence to be that long.)

We are constantly in a struggle for identity. Getting out of the 'black box' is not an easy task. Thinking outside of the 'black box' is almost herculean, certainly that is so for those born after 'black and proud' transfiguration.

These folks were raised 'black'. They ARE the box. They ARE the stated antithesis of a societal negative.

Whether we say so or not, society STILL maintains the color-construction of 'black' being a negative.

There is no comparison. You noted the following:

'I topped it off with a little remark about how White kids with either hippie, punk or gothic jet black or multicolored hair must suffer from some extreme Identity Crisis.'---Nmaginate

These 'white' kids have a default that leaves them in not only a positive position, but THE dominant position of the society in which they live.

So...what is their 'struggle'? Maybe just to be 'different', a fight for individuality maybe.

Popcorn described a struggle that strikes me as a kind of sublimation out of reality of societal circumstance. These ('white') kids are aspiring to that 'other place' as well.

Popcorn's circumstance is based in the 'black box'. These 'white' kids circumstance is based in the 'white box.' When each comes to 'ground', they will still be in their respective 'boxes'.

Thinking outside the contrived 'black box' is the beginning of getting out of the contrivance.

Who you are CANNOT be confined in that contrivance. That contrivance CANNOT be who you are.

Who you are must be in another place; a place you define AND is unique to you.

I'm hoping I didn't go 'off point' with this.

As you may recall, I believe the contrivance of the 'black box' is the last bondage of America's chattel slavery.

PEACE

Jim Chester
quote:
These 'white' kids have a default that leaves them in not only a positive position, but THE dominant position of the society in which they live.

So...what is their 'struggle'? Maybe just to be 'different', a fight for individuality maybe.
But that is exactly how this issue is articulated by Black people who bring this up: A Fight For Individuality. A quest for some comfort and validation that its alright to be who you are. But I still can't help but wonder if there is some hypersensitivity and selective memory at play here.

As you said:
When each comes to 'ground', they will still be in their respective 'boxes'.
But yet and still, there is a problem with how we as Black people allow our "BOX" to be defined not so much by ourselves in the most narrow of ways but by the larger society. As you stated: These folks were raised 'black'. They ARE the box.

The problem is in how we accept the messages/images in American society that "STILL maintains or reinforces the notion that 'black' is a negative." Whether it comes from White people or not, is not the issue. Accepting those characterizations, those RACIST, pernicious stereotypes even from SOME Black people (who have, IMO, internalized the negatives) is exactly the problem.

Those stereotypes have been around for years and generations of Black people up until now have hardly figured there to be such a restrictive "BOX" that is set on the prescribed negative. Those generations would seem to have positive reinforcement and (counter)affirmations of Blackness. What's different now?

Sorry, but (if you read further along in the article) I don't think anyone has defined Black as Anti-Outdoors, hiking, etc. It would seem a little more careful and responsible examination of what has been our experience would be in order to understand what's being said when Black people say to other Black people "You're not Black" over some trivial stuff in terms of lifestyle habits and activities.

Ummm.... I don't think an Urban Black Female has had a significant experience with "dirt"... Again, that's commenting on the stupidity and ridiculously irresponsible commentary voiced in the article. There's something clinic about that shit, IMO...
There is and will always be certain norms, certain behavior, and cultural experiences that are predominantly if not exclusively found amongst a particular group of people, and when one from amongst that people does not behave, or carry the norms and cultural experiences of that group his or her authenticity as one belonging to that group will be questioned. Some Black folk are too sensitive as Nmaginate alluded to in that, in many instances the questioning of one Blackness is not about saying a person is not "Black" one can not have their Blackness taken away, however it is to say in many instances you don't do as the majority of Black folk do, nor do you appear to have the interest of Black folk in mind. An example of this is; I don't eat chicken and because of that every now and then some Black person will say, "You don't eat chicken and you a Black man". Clearly this person is alluding to the reality that the majority of Black folk eat chicken, he is not saying I am not Black because I don't eat chicken nor do I take it that way, he is simply saying when my dietary choices are juxtaposed with the dietary choices of most Black folk, I am outside the norm as is the case with those Black folk who prefer rock, alternative or country music over Hip-Hop and R&B, they are outside the norm when it come to the music choices of the majority of Black folk.

On a different note, when we are discussing politics and choices that one makes that have an affect on other Black people, we tend to believe that one should be in tune with the first law of nature which is self preservation and this self extends beyond the individual to his or her people thus when one makes a choice that only benefits him or her to the detriment of his or her people then that one has violated that rule and is thus seen as one being out of tune or step with his or her people and seek personal gain in lieu of collective uplift. Thus he is or she is a self hating Negro, not the "self" that defines the individual but the "self" that defines the collective. As Renaldo says "he loves himself" and I have no reason to not believe him however he hates his people.
Those stereotypes have been around for years and generations of Black people up until now have hardly figured there to be such a restrictive "BOX" that is set on the prescribed negative. Those generations would seem to have positive reinforcement and (counter)affirmations of Blackness. What's different now?---Nmaginate

There's something clinic about that shit, IMO...---Nmaginate

I think the counteraffirmation is effect of the system. They are live in a place that reinforces 'black' as a negative. It is systemic.

If they accept, they accept the negativity, INSPITE of the intent of their parents and that initiative of the 1970s.

It was a decsion based in color, and therefore degrades; is soluble in; fails in a color-based construction.

What is different is our children don't have the zeal. They don't really understand. And clearly we have not/cannot tell them. 'black' leaves us, and therefore our children, without foundation.

I listened to an interview with Dick Gregory two days ago. He is as adamant as the day I first sat and listen to when visited here.

His good intent, and commitment is all that sustained him in a 'hail' of implied insult.

Our 'blackness' in this construction can be depended upon for strength, but not enough to gain parity in our society.

Our 'blackness' is essentially a 'disruptive force', because we embrace it counter to the intent of the language and intent of the society.

We need more to prevail.

PEACE

Jim Chester
Faheem:

I agree with both of your examples, and the respective explanations.

I further believe that such failures are inevitable, again for the reasons you have stated.

The fallibility is in the construction that what we are 'black' is who we are.

It isn't

'black' is ONLY what we are.

'black' offers no uniqueness.

PEACE

Jim Chester

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