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A black identity question

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Printed Date: Aug 19 2019 at 5:42am


Topic: A black identity question
Posted By: creole booty
Subject: A black identity question
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 12:10pm
You know how people say things like, "I'm just an actor, not a black actor." Or, "I'm a doctor, not a black dr."

How do u feel about that? Is it equality or ignorance?

Here's Langston Hughes:

"One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once, "I want to be a poet--not a Negro poet," meaning, I believe, "I want to write like a white poet"; meaning subconsciously, "I would like to be a white poet"; meaning behind that, "I would like to be white." And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself. And I doubted then that, with his desire to run away spiritually from his race, this boy would ever be a great poet. But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America--this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible."



Replies:
Posted By: Marcelo22
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 12:16pm
U can be both. U can be a great black doctor and just a great doctor. Langston Hughes was from a different time. I'm sure black people don't go around telling people their occupation and saying "I'm a black doctor" or "I'm a black secretary" 


Posted By: lexis83
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 12:20pm
I think they want to be recognized for their work not the color of their skin/race.


Posted By: creole booty
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 2:18pm
@m, haven't u heard people say this recently?

@l, I agree with that, but does that suggest that when they r referred to as a black ___ that they don't want the black attached?


Posted By: naturesgift
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 2:29pm
i think people sound stupid saying things like this~ 
who you explaining this too? 


Posted By: melikey
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 2:32pm
I affiliate with being a black and female at all times and I join black and female affinity groups as well.
If I was a poet, I'd be a part of the black poet's guild. Actually I'd be the president.


Posted By: OoDles O
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 2:58pm
I hate this either-or mentality and this default position back to whiteness.
Its not that simple.

Maybe a black artist's brand of Art is African themes and/or black cultural traditions …
but just being a black person.. they shouldn't be defined as a black Artist… thats a narrow description.

Maybe they want to paint landscapes or write about Aliens… Whats that have to do with black art?


Posted By: creole booty
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 3:02pm
Originally posted by naturesgift naturesgift wrote:

i think people sound stupid saying things like this~ 
who you explaining this too? 


Excuse me if I have misunderstood ur question because I wasn't sure

I'm not explaining anything. I'm reading this for african lit class and thought it was interesting to discuss


Posted By: bg
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 3:09pm
"How do u feel about that? Is it equality or ignorance?"

i wouldn't necessarily say its ignorance, probably more like assimilation?

imo there is nothing wrong with being a 'black anything', it should be a sense of pride that comes along with it versus a sense of shame

there are reasons to label yourself as a 'BLACK WHATEVER' in this country considering our history here...

you can TRY to alleviate your color from the equation but white's NEVER will...so turn that negative into a positive and be proud of your racial identity...its the one thing i like about Jews Stern Smile



Posted By: Sang Froid
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 3:11pm
Originally posted by OoDles O OoDles O wrote:

I hate this either-or mentality and this default position back to whiteness.
Its not that simple.

Maybe a black artist's brand of Art is African themes and/or black cultural traditions …
but just being a black person.. they shouldn't be defined as a black Artist… thats a narrow description.

Maybe they want to paint landscapes or write about Aliens… Whats that have to do with black art?

Or you have a narrow opinion of what blackness is. 


Posted By: OoDles O
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 3:30pm
the issue is people who are offended when you don't want to subscribe to their labels.

If you chose to describe yourself as a "black artist" Kudo's.
But when others define you its often dependent on their definition right.

Whats your definition got to do with me? (just speaking in general) Why is their an assumption that I don't know as much about what it means to be black as you do.  

I think thats where we run into unnecessary internal conflict.


Posted By: OoDles O
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 3:36pm
Originally posted by bg bg wrote:

"How do u feel about that? Is it equality or ignorance?"

i wouldn't necessarily say its ignorance, probably more like assimilation?

imo there is nothing wrong with being a 'black anything', it should be a sense of pride that comes along with it versus a sense of shame

there are reasons to label yourself as a 'BLACK WHATEVER' in this country considering our history here...

you can TRY to alleviate your color from the equation but white's NEVER will...so turn that negative into a positive and be proud of your racial identity...its the one thing i like about Jews Stern Smile


Under this scenario… I don't think its about Color.
Its not really about a reactionary response to white peoples ignorance and negativity towards blacks either.

I think in a lot of cases… its really about ART.
Like.. I know people who really take their Art seriously… music production, writing, fine arts… because they live in that world... They create for that world… and they want that world to represent them before anything else.

For a serious artist its not a game… thats why some of them are called starving artist.


Posted By: Princess Grace
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 3:36pm
I don't feel the need to have a measure my blackness competition, do what works for you.


Posted By: Marcelo22
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 3:47pm
It's a catch 22 tho. If u want to be identified as a black poet then u will only be compared to other black poets. A lot of artists don't want their work put in a box like that. I don't see someone like Spike Lee and think "he's a great black director". I think "He's a great director". 


Posted By: melikey
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 6:11pm
Originally posted by Marcelo22 Marcelo22 wrote:

It's a catch 22 tho. If u want to be identified as a black poet then u will only be compared to other black poets. A lot of artists don't want their work put in a box like that. I don't see someone like Spike Lee and think "he's a great black director". I think "He's a great director". 


That's like saying you can't have a BET award and a grammy at the same time. This is what is killing what we know as black culture and making it ripe for the taking. 

There used to be a time, when rappers and r&b artists made music for black people. those were the glory days, those days we had black artists holding the number 1 spot on the billboard. now that black artists want to be mainstream, they opened the door for others to come and say "why can't i?". we went an entire year without a black artist in the number 1 spot in music. there is no coincidence that black music and culture has and will be continue to be stolen from us. we're too busy trying to be race neutral. 

Toni Morrison is black. I would consider her a black author if anyone asks. Why? Because her books are about black culture and feature black characters. Toni Morrison also has a pulitzer prize in fiction. Her identity is intertwined with her craft, she wouldn't be who she was as an author if she disregarded what she brought to the table through her experience as a black woman. One interesting thing about her book Beloved. White people did not catch on to her at first, it was the black community of book critics that raised her voices when she was being looked over by the establishment. 




Posted By: naturesgift
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 6:38pm
I was saying a person who feels like they have to qualify their position as a professional or whatever by objectifying their race or who feel like they are defined by it has more problems than a little bit...
As a human being we are diverse you let your work speak for its self by trying to EXPLAIN away your blackness make you seem a bit silly IMO!  


Posted By: OoDles O
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 6:54pm
yeah….. imho I don't think you can steal black culture… like steal it.

Secondly even if you could.., we will always come up with something new and better.







Posted By: naturesgift
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 7:05pm
Its been happening forever- I think she means steal the credit 


Posted By: nitabug
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 7:08pm
it is weird to me.

I am proud to be black though


Posted By: melikey
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 7:26pm
Originally posted by naturesgift naturesgift wrote:

Its been happening forever- I think she means steal the credit 

+ bastardize and redefine so it no longer resembles what it used to be. 
we will see when the top 10 rap albums are all clear folk.


Posted By: purpulicious01
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 7:44pm
Mixed opinions.

I understand not wanting to be recognized solely for your race, but instead for the quality of your work. 

I find it absurd that we segregate bookstores and PUBLIC libraries ("African American" literature). It's insulting really. Toni Morrison writes American Literature, not just African American lit., and everyone should read it. She should be in the section sections as the White authors. 

With that said though, I see nothing wrong with a person referencing his/her race and using it as an opportunity to bring a different perspective/point of view to the table (bc our experiences in life are heavily influenced by our identity - racial/ethnic, religious, gender, etc). 





Posted By: purpulicious01
Date Posted: Feb 25 2014 at 7:59pm
This thread reminds me of an interview I heard from Don Cheadle and Kerry Washington a while ago, when the interview asked how they feel about being identified as 'black actors' in hollywood. 

Transcript of their responses:

Q: When people reference your race when describing your career - is that a point of pride or is it overplayed in the media?

Don Cheadle: "I think I'm somewhat defined by my race and I'm good with that. I actually want that to be a part of my story. I don't believe in colorblind casting. I think that is something fight for in our work - we should use all aspects of ourselves. I'm always trying to find a place where that has an impact on what I'm doing instead of going "Oh well, we're all just people, we're the same, and I have the same issues you have."

Kerry Washington: "Yeah, I agree, I think it's relevant in the way that gender is relevant. I bring something to the table as a woman, I bring something to the table as a person of color. I feel that if it's the only thing you focus on, it's a danger, and if you never talk about it, it's a danger. The balance is where we should be living when it comes to race." 


Full interview for those interested. Love these two - very intelligent, articulate individuals thoughtfully and eloquently answering questions. 




Posted By: creole booty
Date Posted: Feb 26 2014 at 9:49am
Do u guys think that if someone is mentioned for an accomplishment that its automatically assumed that they were white?

Random ex: first man to cure aids, or developer of time machine?


Posted By: mangachan
Date Posted: Feb 27 2014 at 9:20pm
My sister and I JUST had this conversation and I have come to the following...As a "creative" I do not want to be a "black" artist because when you are known as a "black" artist/designer/buisness person\whatever you will then be placed into a certain category and everything about you becomes based on that label. 

I will use myself as an example because I don't want to use pretenses on the work of others.  when I design or illustrate characters as simply an "artist" or "illustrator with NO mention of my race or sex, I am free to draw whatever I want.  Most of my work includes a non-European aesthetic.  When I identify my work as being "black" it instantly becomes political in a way that I don't necessarily intend my work to be.  I want to be free to draw a blond haired white girl without somebody saying I want to look like that.  I want to have a variety of audiences embrace my afro wearing character because she's pretty and a well developed character...not because they want to sing kumbya.  My work that happens to have color...I want it to be great work that happens to have color in it.


As a black person becoming a "black [whatever]" anything in your life that is not "black enough" will come under fire.  I wouldn't care but telling people to kick rocks all the time would just become exhausting. lol  People intrject all of their own assumptions and schema into your life, they start thinking you said stuff you ain't said when you become a "black [whatever]".  You have to keep up with all things black.  I just like making things in my little hovel taking life one day at a time, I don't have the emotional energy to get into "the struggle" no more.


Posted By: mangachan
Date Posted: Feb 27 2014 at 9:22pm
Originally posted by purpulicious01 purpulicious01 wrote:

Mixed opinions.

I understand not wanting to be recognized solely for your race, but instead for the quality of your work. 

I find it absurd that we segregate bookstores and PUBLIC libraries ("African American" literature). It's insulting really. Toni Morrison writes American Literature, not just African American lit., and everyone should read it. She should be in the section sections as the White authors. 

With that said though, I see nothing wrong with a person referencing his/her race and using it as an opportunity to bring a different perspective/point of view to the table (bc our experiences in life are heavily influenced by our identity - racial/ethnic, religious, gender, etc). 




IA with this sentiment.  We will never become normalized into society if people can still choose to bypass us.


Posted By: Ming
Date Posted: Feb 27 2014 at 9:25pm
When I was younger, I walked around B&N looking for something to read... came across African American novels or something like that. That bothered me. They were in a separate section. I don't judge those who consider themselves Black first. For the most part... I usually consider myself a woman first


Posted By: Sang Froid
Date Posted: Feb 28 2014 at 7:41am
Man I'm mad as they desegregated black books in the library and B&N.
I'm really pissed at yall for that.
Now I gotta go through all these cracka books to find the nigguh books.
yall man.


Posted By: Sang Froid
Date Posted: Feb 28 2014 at 7:43am
Originally posted by Ming Ming wrote:

When I was younger, I walked around B&N looking for something to read... came across African American novels or something like that. That bothered me. They were in a separate section. I don't judge those who consider themselves Black first. For the most part... I usually consider myself a woman first

Maybe you should go over to woman hair media with all the colorblind women then.
It really doesn't matter what you think of yourself cause they see you at a black first either way.


Posted By: melikey
Date Posted: Feb 28 2014 at 7:49am
The bookstore comment is weird. Every bookstore I've been to has literature of all races in the same section. You might find African American lit in the urban lit section as well but that's only because it's popular with the urban lit crowd too. It's all about money.


Posted By: Printer_Ink
Date Posted: Feb 28 2014 at 9:05am
Originally posted by lexis83 lexis83 wrote:

I think they want to be recognized for their work not the color of their skin/race.


Right. These people don't have enough going on in their lives if they have to precede every accomplishment etc .. with the word 'Black'.

People can see that you are Black ... but it's what you are about that should be the focus.


Posted By: kfoxx1998
Date Posted: Feb 28 2014 at 10:26am
IA w/sang on the bookstore thing.  I've been around long enough to remember when there was no African American section and no market.  It was sad. 

I wish clear people were forced to run from their racial identity.  Something like - He's "The Decendant of a racist, raping ass dirty slave owner White American Writer".  Yes I wish the words White American held some type of stigma.  It should.   Black American "Anything" lets ME know that despite all the fckn bullsh*t American did to kill his/her dreams he/she is a published writer, doctor, actor, CEO or President. 


Posted By: creole booty
Date Posted: Feb 28 2014 at 3:35pm
I agree kfoxx. I think it really does just let the future know that blacks did exist and accomplish things.

However, I now completely understand y some would prefer not to add black to their title.

It's crazy that this is even a thing almost 100 years after that text was written.



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