"...Honestly, who would want to be black?"
That emotion envoking statement is one of the many self loathing, self hating, conformist statements found in Orville Douglas's 878 word essay found here: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/09/i-hate-being-a-black-man. Instead of just posting the essay among my other blog post, I decided to expound on some of the points that Orville made and provide my own insight. Until you read the essay in it's entirety I do advise you to hold comments until the aforementioned is complete.
Orville Lloyd Douglas (pictured right) being interviewed by CCN's Don Lemon
Orville Douglas states,"There is a discourse that black people engender: that black is beautiful. But the truth is, the image of blackness is ugly – at least it's perceived that way. There is nothing special or wonderful about being a black male – it is a life of misery and shame."
Truthfully, the image of "Black" in America is tinted, but what about being African-American in America? We as a race have come to accept the term "Black" as a method of categorization. By definition the word Black is defined by "lifeless" and "bad" in retrospect, is the term Black not a more widely accepted form of Nigger? Are the two not separated by only a few degrees (Nigger-Negro-Black)? If we would start to refer to ourselves as African-American and not Black (I'm clearly brown) then we can overcome the terms associated to both the color and race. Being a black male is not "a life of misery and shame" as stated by Mr. Douglas. Having received my degree from Alabama A&M University, an HBCU in the confederate south I have to disagree. Nothing was more rewarding than walking my campus and seeing other African-American men headed to class or hearing how my University was the only HBCU represented at STEM and Engineering competitions, or encountering deeply rooted southerners who recognized my institute as a premier partner in the education system of Alabama. My dear sir, there is nothing shameful about being birthed from the loins of our African-American fore-fathers who's marching, boycotting, inventing and scholastic achievement are the reason why both you and I are not sitting in the back of that public transportation you experienced this epiphany on.
I just don't fit into a neat category of the stereotypical views people have of black men. (He continues to state) I have nothing in common with the archetypes about the black male.
NEWSFLASH! it's okay not to fit any of the stereotypes associated with being a black male--That's encouraged, but do I sense a disconnect here? Does your self-hatred for being black spawn from you not being involved with other progressive black men? When I think of this statement, I can't help but let my mind wander to Dr. Martin Luther King jr, Malcom X, Marcus Garvey. I doubt that these phenomenal men allowed themselves to be categorized by stereotypical labels of their era. These giants never distanced themselves from their roots, their people, their cultural make up. No matter how many violent crowds they encountered, no matter how many racially charged altercations they witnessed..they never gave up on their people, their purpose. My mother instilled in me long ago that I would be able to change a lot about myself. From My hair color, my clothes, even my friends..but one thing that I would never be able to change was where I was from or what color my skin was.
There is also a fear by some black people that discussing the issue of self-hatred is a sign of weakness.
Out of this entire essay, this is the one line that I agree with Mr. Douglas on. In our culture, we sweep a lot of sensitive topics under the rug and shy away from the art of dialogue. I believe we do need to open the lines of communication amongst each other. Instead of leaving our youth to seek out answers from outside forces about self understanding and being comfortable in their black skin, we as a race need to reconnect and get back to the "It takes a community" mentality.
I encourage whoever reads this to discuss what was stated, visit the original post, share this blog via email to evoke change.
Black is a color.
African-American is a race.
You are the deciding factor.
Stephen "TheeBlackSocialite" Hale