So today is March 2nd. And I’m about to write about Black Culture. Yes, I know I’m a month late (or am I????) and I’ve had an itch to write on this topic for the last 30 days, but my reasonings to write evolved continuously as I was more of an observer/witness of people throughout the month of February; how the political environment has unfolded this season (both locally and nationally), how my black friends continue to be frustrated as we are experiencing history repeat itself as people marginalize our contributions until it’s convenient (I’m typing this at a coffee house and hear nothing but pop songs that were either performed or written by African Americans, after Black History Month-that says something) but then totally exploit what we do through mass media outlets (mostly our negative attributes) to reinforce the mindsets that blacks are buffoons and should be confined to the realms of entertainment, athletics, or pleasures, except of course for an exceptional few that escaped and “gets ‘American’ culture”…
I also witness how my non-black friends are either VERY CONFUSED why we even celebrate Black History Month; they get defensive because their culture don’t receive the same amount of “exposure” or judge blacks for not conforming to the system and just accept “the American Way”…”Matt, how would you feel if we had ‘White History’ month?” Ahhh… You do… “So why don’t they celebrate other cultures like the Asians or Hispanics?” Ahhhh… They do :-(… It’s so draining to hear every person outside of my culture (and some idiots who are black) question EVERYTHING we do.
Conversely, other non-blacks, who are empathetic of our struggle, gets railroaded by both sides, being shunned out of white or “mainstream” culture for venturing out too far from home base and being in the vicinity of the “leopards”, but then being the beneficiary of a vicious lashing out blacks would dish out on them out of frustration from our situations, either placed via a system or themselves…. Frustrating and confusing them why they are evening trying to enlighten either themselves or others.
I can write a book about this (in fact, there are several books we ALL can read, starting with the Mis-Education of the Negro- so if you want to blame someone for Black History Month, go to the source and see his rationale and then talk to me… and understand it’s not about it being the shortest day of the month…) but I only want to make one observation hit me like a ton of bricks this year: People are genuinely scared of the mere word “Black”. That’s it. That simple. Before we can even go deeper of the human aspect or socio-economic factors, or phycological effects of slavery, Jim Crow, drugs, and the exploitation of blacks, people are automatically turned off by the word…. Black…. The tint (not a color, btw)….. Black. This 5-letter B-word alone derails any communication…People literally shut down when the word “BLACK” is articulated in the conversation. Seriously, the word Black…. wow, my mind is still blown even as I type.
This may seem a bit too much, or even overkill, but the fact that rational people, who are either educated or experienced in life and who have made serious and complicated decisions can be distracted by tint or color is very discouraging for progress and growth: don’t be afraid of the word BLACK. I do understand the denotations and connotations that Black relates to darkness, and evil in certain senses, but remember that being in the black also means that your business is surviving. When dealing with people, black is ONLY a descriptor of either a race or culture, nothing more, nothing less. How you think about a black person is up to you… Don’t make an excuse to call us evil because of our skin (this isn’t pre-industrial, racist America).
I’m starting to get on my soap box (which it is not my intention for this post). I’m passionate about this because if we stop communication and discussion based on a word doesn’t tackle the true issue, then progress is futile. I want people to continue to build relationships with all people of colors, not try to ignore colors and assume we are a monolith… that’s easy out and frankly, a cheap way to communicate. Let’s learn that in the case of skin pigmentation, black doesn’t mean evil, just as white doesn’t mean pure. GET BEYOND THE WORD BLACK. Instead, understand there are different positive attributes of that color, then understand that I can at least entertain building a relationship with someone, despite their color. We are all people, and our culture/race can be learned at any time… not just February for me.