I'm Still an African-American, But I Don't Feel Like a Black Person Anymore

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Let me explain. In 2010 and 2009 I wrote a bunch of articles that attempted to bridge the gap between disenfranchised Black people that were on the outside looking in that had their issues, concerns and grievances with other Blacks and those Blacks themselves. I met a few other Black people whose concerns were different than mine, some whose opinions I agreed with and some whose tactics I could get with and many that I do not. People would listen if I talked about Black women, or Black men, but rarely would they listen when I talked about Black people as a whole.

To me an African-American is someone who believes in multiculturalism; we are living in a post-racial society, we can achieve racial harmony through interracial exchanges whenever possible and we can concentrate on the larger issues in society, religion, socioeconomic discrimination, intellectualism. A Black person is someone who still believes in the struggle and too modern to be a Negro or a colored personbecausethose people believed in Black leadership. A Black person still believes in institutionalized racism, they want things to be “Black” whenever possible. An African-American has an issue with the liquor stores and churches that exist on every corner. A Black person frequents the liquor stores, attends the parties at the club on the corner and will still show up for church on Sunday. An African-American wants an integrated church; a Black person does not want a pastor of a different race. An African-American believes in interracial relationships and a Black person believes in Black love.

The truth is that most African-Americans are somewhere in the middle, there are too many grey areas to count and that the true difference is in how we carry ourselves. African-Americans tend to be prim and proper; Blacks might say that African-Americans are being fake,bourgeoisor pretentious while African-Americans might say that Blacks are ghetto which is a polite way of saying that they are “basic”. The term African-American is one of importance because it comes from us and speaks to what we attempted toreceivefrom the civil rights movement. The term “Black” is one that was given to us, as a way to suggest that our culture is monolithic and avague”other” category for Africans all over the world, that may have nothing in common with each other culturally.

I grew up in those times when we were taking back the whole “Black” thing and rejecting the idea that the civil rights movement had achieved anything because we still felt likeNegroes, we felt as though we were colored and we didn’t want to play nice. It was a faux militaristic approach to dealing with the issues in the Black community. But I feel as though I am a dying breed; yes Lupe Fiasco calls Obama a terrorist, which sounds nice on paper but he got into the game by building upon the foundation that artists like Nas laid down. Nas, on the other hand, was excited about a Black president, so I am a bit confused. Everyone has their own opinions, but don’t dance and skirt around the idea of consciousness; approach it head on.

At the end of the day though you might say that Nas is Black; he is like one of those thugs that was doing his thing until he picked up the Koran and was enlightened and then found a way to share it with everyone he came into contact with. Similarto groups like Poor Righteous Teachers, or X Clan. I’m not sure about Lupe Fiasco, but he came in as a skater, which sort of makes him like more of an African-American from where I’m standing. If he has the same level of animosity at the White man he isn’t showing it; he would never have an album called N*.

See I am a bit confused these days about who I am. Because I do not know what type of colored person it is politically okay for me to be anymore. When I try to be a Black person no one can relate to me and I figure that it is because I am not Black enough so instead of fronting and being someone that I am not I try to be an African-American, but African-Americans are not really hearing each other. When we talk about Black issues, we want someone that is an intellectual, but we want someone that is Black. Rarely do we want an enlightened discussion about what happens in the Black community. Some public intellectuals can get away with it, but what I’ve found is that Whites listen to African-American public intellectuals and Blacks listen to Black public intellectuals and the answer as always is somewhere in between.

So then Whites comment on my articles and tell me that a lot of the issues we have in the Black community are the same issues that everyone else has. Which is something that I have always known. But my Black brothers and sisters do not hear that message and do not want to hear it conveyed to them from an African-American. Being that I am not Black, in that sense of the term, I could never relate to their own point of view. So if I want to get page views, traffic, or ad revenue I have to talk about Black women, or Black men. Which I tried doing, but at the end of the day I realized that I have a problem with both Black women and Black men, and I could never pick sides because I think that everyone is wrong, and everyone is right.

So then you might ask “well Chris what about African-American men and women”? I don’t see African-American men and women going online and complaining about each other. I do not see them writing articles about each other. I do not see African-American men telling their peers to date outside of their race or African-American women telling their peers to date outside of their race. That seems to be a Black issue for those African-Americans that are preoccupied with being Black, whose entire issue really stems down to their authenticity, or lack of it, as a Black person. So they extol the virtues of being an enlightened African-American, and that solves all of their problems. Once you are okay with being Black, even if everyone else sees you as abourgeoisAfrican-American, and you can put your issues and hangups behind you one can actually get along with other Black people whether they happen to be Black or whether they happen to be African-American. It doesn’t matter at the end of the day, because you know who you are as an individual. But a lot of us don’t know, so we try to confuse those who do, because misery likes company.

It used to be that you had to be exposed to other races and cultures if you wanted to do certain things, act a certain way or talk a certain way. Those days are behind us. So I really do not see the relevancy in talking about Black issues anymore. The generation that came after me actually gets it. They know what the struggle is. They also know that it is a waste of time to preoccupy yourself with it. They are leery ofeveryoneand they do not trust anyone because no one has shown themselves worthy of their trust. A lot of us talked a good game but we are hypocrites; we sold out Black culture for White consumption. Sold ourselves short,diminishedany cultural importance we would have.

It wasn’t only poor Blacks. It was middle class Blacks that should have known better, that could have taken other choices or tried to make a better world for all people of color, regardless of rhetoric or ideology. They wanted money, and they found a way to get it. The sanctity of the Black church was lost. So you cannot tell a young African-American about being Black; because we have told them that being Black is about having money. We have fed them the same stereotypical images that were fed to us; we believe that we have a right to sell those stereotypical images because when they were used against us we didn’t get paid. No one was paid when a Southern White man called a young colored boy a nigger. Everyone is paid when a Black rapper gets to say it. Blacks have taken back the weapons that were used against them and tried to profit from them only to realize that once again, selling our story and talking about our pain is the way to riches again. When you were a slave they made money off of your pain, now that you sell crack and you want to be a rap star, they are making money off of your pain again.

When does the free labor stop? When do we say that we are not there to be exploited for the financial gain of someone else? It will never happen because those Southern Whites now realize that the same man that empowered them to call me a nigger has them stuck in a dead end job somewhere. That same man took his 401k and his investments. That same man takes his land under eminent domain laws, for gentrification, so that rich and middle class people of all races can live there. That same man never cared about color, but he needed a system put into place so that he could continue to reap the benefits of free labor. That same man paid a Southern man to keep that system in place. Blacks thought that things were better up North, but they had something deeper and moreinsidious, more of a mental terrorism upNorth. Some places actually had slavery. Those who didn’t welcomed us into factories, which seemed like a good idea at the time but some of us still have that same factory mindset. The factory was not there for you to get rich, it was there for you to make someone else rich. You think you are free because no one is putting the whip to you, but you are still working under the same threat of terror.

He doesn’t care about anybody. But why should I care about being Black when I know who the enemy is. Whites and Blacks stand on top of a system that makes life difficult for all that are unable to achieve the same financial independence they have. Whites and Blacks; because when a Black man has enough money, and he finally learns what is behind that curtain he wants in on it and he wants a piece of the action himself. He will do anything to keep himself in position, and everything to keep me where I am at. The same Blacks that sold us into slavery in Africa are right here in boardrooms across America. The exact same Blacks. How is that for being Black, for wanting everything to be Black, for calling someone an Uncle Tom and a race traitor? How exactly does that work?

Thatis the reason I do not care about being Black. Because it does not mean anything anymore. The myths that perpetrated that system no longer exist. I like a lot of Black things, a lot of African-American things a lot of White things a lot of things from a lot of different races. This is America that is the entire point of being here; since I have been given that choice I choose to gorge myself on this cultural rhetoric because that is an option I may not have in another country. But keeping me down, keeping me in the dark ages and in an intellectual backwater when those that truly sought God’s face and actually know something about God would vehemently disagree it goes against my interests. This isn’t what Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted, and it isn’t what an enlightened Malcolm X wanted once he realized who his enemies truly were. Even Richard Pryor came into his own revelation about what this struggle is really about, though that is a comedy sketch the media does not like to play and an inconvenient truth. A lot of people know, but it isn’t popular to talk about because our whole objective is to keep you diminished as a negro, even if we have to give you a little bit of knowledge; you know enough to be dangerous so that you ask a lot of questions, everything but therightquestions. Enough to keep you in check and to keep this charade going, but not enough to truly lift you out of your circumstances. Of course I’m Black; but not for the same reasons one would think …

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