Measuring Blackness

This is going to be a more personal post, but I know that I am not the only one to go through this, and I would love to make that connection with others.

I am going through a breakup. No, it wasn’t for cheating, and we ended on good terms. Well, kind of. We both still love each other, to be honest (though I still think that I won the “I love you more” argument). It was a good run, or so I thought, until I heard him tell me: “I think we should see other people.”

No, my boyfriend was not “the bad guy”. In fact, he’s the sweetest man I have dated. He was never perfect, and was a dork, but I knew that my weirdness would never be out of place. It sounds so cute and sentimental writing it down. But when you look at the fact that we’re no longer together, it brings thing down a notch or two. No relationship is ever perfect, it takes constant work to keep it going. But I think he stopped trying to work. And the reason why breaks my heart into pieces. He told me in the beginning that we were just too different. The more true reason, as I came to realize, was that I was “too pro-black”.

Never have I ever heard that I was too pro-black. As if it were a contest and I was beating everybody in the game. I’ve never thought of my love of my blackness as something that could ever be too much. As a child, growing up and going to primarily white institutions for most of my life, I have always been perceived as not black enough, the “white black girl”, the Oreo, and so on. My love of books and academic rigor was mistaken for acting white, and never had I ever found myself in a substantial group of black people.

Duke is still a primarily white institution (despite the arguments), and I know that we as black students only make up about 10% of the population, but here is where I feel comfortable, and where I believe that I have a place in the black community. Sure, it gets clique-ish like all other groups in college, but I know that we can all come together and fight for things that matter to us, whether it’s against  the stupid noose or Azealia Banks, or to try and get more diversity talks going for the incoming class. Being here has made me feel welcome, and I feel as if I’ve found a home away from home.

But that brings me to my question in response to him: How can I, a black woman, be “too” pro black? I know that people have many definitions of the term, and I wouldn’t understand the supremacy of one group over a group that we have been oppressed under for centuries. I am not anti- anyone else in the wake of my pro- blackness. All I would like is for the police to stop killing people who look like me just because they’re “suspicious”. Stop taking advantage of my community and policing them at ridiculously high rates because you’re scared to turn up whatever lurks in your own community. Stop killing my black people of all ages and genders because you “were scared for your life”. I want my people to stop being discriminated by the policies put in place by our government. I want it to be recognized just how much my people were intentionally put through at the sake of progress, instead of saying things like, “Well, he was nice to his slaves.” I want for black women to stop being ridiculed for features that are considered “ethnic” unless it’s lasered onto a Kardashian or Jenner. I want for my culture to be appreciated, but not appropriated and turned into a caricature.  I want to get rid of the school to prison pipeline that starts tracking kids accordingly in the third grade.

I’ve never seen my demands as unruly or something that needs to be discussed at a later date. Because all of these things and more have had a very negative impact n the black community and continues to today. We wish so much to erase our roots and declare that we are living in a colorblind society, but we cannot ignore the problems that still exist today. And don’t tell me that everything I have asked for is too much, because there are people living in this very same country who walk around with the privilege to not think about any of these issues.

I thought that he loved me, wholly, but unfortunately I learned otherwise, and I know he won’t be the last of people to walk out of my life. But if all of this makes me “too” pro-black, then what makes me just “black enough”, and is it worth sacrificing for love?

-JW

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One thought on “Measuring Blackness

  1. Girl, despite the title, I’m sure the gasp that slipped out of my mouth could be heard by the people upstairs when I read the first pro-Black. Like what?! But you’re right, there is an unfortunate thin line between pro-Black and just Black enough especially in times when our community needs to be unified most. The you-go-girl/he-doesn’t-deserve-you-anyway attitude in me wants to tell him to kick rocks on your behalf, but that may be crossing the line. Anyhoo, loved your post!

    Like

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