Race is a social construct however race has real world implications. We see it with systematic racism in our everyday lives. I wrote this when I read The Root article, “Beyond Blackness: When Blackness is a Small, Nearly Invisible Fraction.”
What is Blackness? It’s not a feeling or a culture. It’s not how someone says you should walk, talk or even act. It’s a racial identity. For me Blackness is when you look and identify as Black.
Ever wonder why half Blacks, multiracial Blacks and others can be Black but only White people can be White? Why is it that Whites can define Whiteness and Blackness in America but Black Americans cannot define Blackness? It’s the legacy of racism and White supremacy.
I say this with all love, biracial and multiracial looking people are not Black. As Kola Boof has coined,” they are not authentically Black”. They are mixed race and have every right to be proud of it. Just as White people have defined Whiteness for centuries only Black people can and should be able to define Blackness.
Many people in America point to the “one drop rule” as a point of reference. The one drop rule means that “a single drop of “black blood” makes a person a black.” The one drop rule was created to maintain the purity of Whiteness and White supremacy. Whites did not want to pass on their wealth to their mixed race offspring and they did not want Whiteness to be a space for mixed race people. Instead, they created laws that stated that anyone could be Black but not everyone could be White. They made sure there was no value in being Black and maintaining Black identity.
There was a time when the biracial Black identity was needed. Due to slavery and the epidemic of slave rape many Black Americans today have slave owners and overseers rapist as distant ancestors. That’s why we vary in shades and features. Because of slave rape in the 18th and 19th century America, biracial Blacks like Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington and our early Black American ancestors identified as Black because it was the law and they were slaves. They had to stick together out of necessity. Other biracial Blacks had access to education, resources and privileges Black Americans did not have at that time. They set up schools and organizations with a singular cause. To benefit Blacks. The biggest difference between now and then is that back then our mixed Black ancestors actually sought to uplift the Black race.
When self hating Blacks and nonBlack people promote and use the “one drop rule” they are maintaining White supremacy. Only the mentally enslaved and their masters still hold on to that racist legacy. So as matter of pride, reclaiming and valuing our identity, Black people must define Blackness.
For an awesome explanation, it’s even better than this post, please read Muslim Bushido’s “The Importance of Context and Nuances.”