Being a Black person is, in a word, complicated.
We’re told every last one of us originated from Africa, yet some of us have more “other” blood in us than we’d ever care to admit…while still looking every bit of Black that we’re assumed to be.
We fight one another over how to identify with who we are. Some of my own people don’t want any other blood in our veins acknowledged because “it shouldn’t be there in the first place”. So if you happen to have a non-Black parent, doesn’t matter to them and they’ll make sure you know they view it as insignificant. As if you could exist without your White, Asian, Hispanic/Latino parent, grandparent, great grandparent, and so on. Research the “one drop rule”. WE didn’t create that rule, it was established by the government (which was (still is) run by White men). It was created to easily define people by how they looked, not by who/what they actually were. A tool used to further promote segregation, not encourage unity.
Then those of us who don’t call ourselves African American because we were not born in Africa and then moved to America. Oh, the sneers we get for calling ourselves Black Americans. Can you tell me how far back your family tree goes where you can identify the family members who lived in Africa and/or were enslaved/traveled to the Americas? Some of us can’t. Believe it or not, some of us have been told since we were children “when you look in the mirror, you see a Black person. when you go outside, everyone else sees a Black person. what more do you need to know, to understand that you’re a Black person”. Beyond this level of generally accepted ignorance, there are those of us who make attempts. The family members who could help document history are either dead, on their way, or nowhere to be found. The next step is a costly process that requires timely research. While that’s good and all, a lot of Black people aren’t going to choose to do that when they’re scraping pennies just to get by.
Next there’s the African Diaspora. Some people would you lead you to believe it only includes Black people. It doesn’t. It’s about communities of PEOPLE who came from Africa and ended up all over the world. When it’s mentioned, yes, it is often associated with all of the [Black] Africans who were enslaved and forced to leave, to live in the Americas. Are we so far down into a rabbit hole that we can’t acknowledge that all of those Africans didn’t look the same?
Then this word “nigga”. I use it and I’m Black. Depending on where you grew up, it wasn’t considered racially offensive to hear non-Black people use it. However, if it was EVER used out of anger towards another person, whether you were Black, White, Asian, Hispanic/Latino. it becomes a vile word that provokes most to anger. Other places, you better not use it if you aren’t Black…and if you come from an old school culture that experienced levels of racism, prejudice, and discrimination we’re fortunate to not have to overtly experience, it’s a disgusting word NONE of us should want to repeat.
But this word, it becomes clear why the idea of non-Black people using it will always cause anger and cringing. When a Black person brings up any violence, revolt, or uncomfortable thing associated with the word, does everyone who uses the word want to discuss those things? Nope. But they want to retain their right to call whoever they want, a nigga. It has become so much a part of vocabulary that for some of us, it really is no different than saying, homie, bitch, folk, asshole, or any other word we endearingly turn into a positive when a negative vibe isn’t the intended effect.
This is just the tip of the iceberg that Black people have to be conscious of every waking moment…and this is just dealing with other people who identify as having African ancestry. It becomes difficult to express our need to just be a human being. That’s how important everything has become…that humanity is the last thing we actually focus on when it should be the first, right?
Why is it so exhausting to just…be?