speaking of “black enough”

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I was happy to come across this article (http://www.politicalarticles.net/blog/2009/06/17/are-you-black-black-enough-and-who-decides/) on the notion of “black enough.”  I’m wondering today why, when I call attention to the absurd and potentially damaging rigid notions of blackness and whiteness, people feel the need to challenge me instead of challenging these notions.  And the one that says that black and white cannot co-exist without the degradation of one, maybe even both, of them.  I do not agree with Taylor’s assertion that “it may be too late in history as well as potentially dangerous to be tampering with the socio-cultural definition of blackness even though the definition is a product of slavery.”  I think it dangerous not to tamper with it.  I think the American consciousness  is infected with racism (colorism at best).  We trace the disease back to slavery.  I don’t think we will heal and prosper and achieve the greatness intended for the nation until we rectify this situation. These definitions. I certainly do agree with his last statement though.

Are You Black; Black Enough; and Who Decides?

By Robert Taylor

In the wake of the claims of Tiger Woods and the election of a mixed race but Black President, a question has been raised in black internet chat rooms around the country as to whether there is a legal or biological definition of who is black.

Actually, there is no law operable today which defines what percentage of “black blood” makes one black. The oft-repeated notion that one drop of black blood makes one black is a cultural definition which has neither a legal nor biological foundation…It is basically a socio-cultural attitude based in major measure on how a person looks.

…Simply put, in America, if you “look” in anyway black, you “are” black. That is not law. That is not science. It just is – a practical reality. Thus Tiger Woods’ mother may be from Thailand and Tiger may object to being called black. But it does not make a practical difference.

Further, it may be too late in history as well as potentially dangerous to be tampering with the socio-cultural definition of blackness even though the definition is a product of slavery. When the Census Bureau decided a few years ago to include a category called “mixed race” in the census, many people rightfully saw it as potentially divisive, asking what practical good does the “mixed race” category serve, but to further divide people along largely artificial lines.

Finally, if one just has to ask the question, the real question should not be “who is black” but instead “who is white.” The scientific theories of Evolution and “Out of Africa” are very clear: There is only one “race” on the planet Earth and it had its origin in East Africa (around present-day Ethiopia) and then spread to all other parts of the world. Adapting to environmental conditions such as the degree of sunlight and developing in relative isolation, some groups evolved lighter skins and others evolved darker skins…Thus technically every person on the planet – from the darkest skinned person in the Congo to the lightest skinned person in Sweden – is of African ancestry.

Therefore the answer to the question above is YOU decide if you are Black enough and whether you realize it or not that gives you tremendous power.

via Politicalarticles.net

you don't have to black to love the blues

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2 thoughts on “speaking of “black enough”

  1. “Simply put, in America, if you “look” in anyway black, you “are” black. That is not law. That is not science. It just is – a practical reality. Thus Tiger Woods’ mother may be from Thailand and Tiger may object to being called black. But it does not make a practical difference.”

    It still does not mean that you should solely base your identity on how the ignorant will view/treat you. This argument also let’s people off the hook too easily. If Tiger Woods asks the NY Times, ESPN, etc. to refer to him as multiracial or African-American AND Chinese/Thai, etc., that much of U.S. society might not be able to hold two different thoughts in its collective head (that Tiger looks one way but identifies another) is not a valid excuse to ignore his request. On the subject of just how Tiger Woods looks, America is not simply a Black and White country — literally or figuratively. This has never been truer than today. So is the person of Indian descent (India not Native American) with dark brown skin, who to many might look Black, in fact Black? Is another person of Southeast Asian descent (e.g., Indonesian), who might look quite similar to Woods, in fact Black? I guess in these cases most people could hold two thoughts in their heads (You look Black, but you’re Indian, so you’re not Black). More, plenty of folks from Latin American countries or the Middle East/North Africa display evidence of recent African ancestry and are not considered Black. Derek Jeter is Black to some but Alex Rodriguez is . . .? Jennifer Beals is Black to some but Jennifer Lopez is . . .?

  2. “Originally, in a bid to stop slaves who had been fathered by white slave owners and overseers from claiming freedom, property rights or possible inheritance, several Southern sates passed laws that in effect defined a black person as anyone with any “discernible” amount of “colored” or “African” blood.”

    I just read the whole piece, and had to add that the author is historically inaccurate here. He is conflating Partus Sequitur Ventrem (the condition of the child, slave or free, follows the condition of the mother, slave or free – regardless of ancestry) with the one-drop rule, which was not codified into law by any state until the early 20th century. Blood fraction, which varied by state, was the basic determinant in terms of what race one would be grouped into. Other determinants, depending on the state, were appearance and class.

    Google “Thomas Jefferson 1815 Partus Sequitur Ventrem”

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