Listen Y’all. I will be the first to tell you that I am Pro-Black Everything! I love it when black women embrace their natural hair, I love seeing positive black representation in our current media culture, I love seeing black people in leadership positions making this world a better place, and I am all for empowering black people as a whole. Yes, black lives do matter and they matter very much to me! However, in recent conversations surrounding this topic in society, there are a few things that have been standing out to me that have really caught my attention.
One was, of course, the so-called “All-Lives Matter” movement that was seemingly birthed nearly as soon as the Black Lives Matter movement. Listen, it should be a universally understood thing that everyone, of all races who are living and breathing, has a life that does indeed matter. We, however, do not live in an idealistic world, so it is important to address issues that seem to be habitually harboring a specific race or ethnic group. This should not have to be stated, but just because I say BLACK LIVES MATTER it does not mean that anyone else’s life is less-significant than mine (even if historically my life and the lives of my ancestors have been made to be significantly less valuable simply because of the color of my skin).
One of the other main things that caught my attention was the conversation surrounding interracial relationships. There are many who share the opinion that you can’t be pro-black and be in an interracial relationship. Let me start out by saying this. I understand from the standpoint of these individuals saying that people outside of the black race would not be able to understand, on an empathic level, the struggles (i.e. systemic oppression) that black people have faced. In this scenario, logically they are correct. If you have never walked that path of struggle, you could not and should not tell a person who has been through it how they should feel about it or what they should do. I, however, have an issue with the idea that a black person (whether they are African-American, Haitian, Jamaican, Bahamian, etc…), “loses” their black card if they choose to marry outside their race; that the notion of a black person marrying someone who is not black takes away their ability to still fight against the injustices that befall black people.
Let’s look at some examples here. Jordan Peele. This man took the world by storm with his 2017 release of “Get-Out.” That movie was an incredibly crafted piece of art that used powerful images and symbolism to shed light on the blatant struggles of the black individual in America. It was a WOKE movie, and no one can doubt that. But hey, guess what? Jordan Peele is married to a white woman, and he himself is a biracial man. Jordan Peele absolutely proved that he is unafraid to make bold statements when it comes to racial injustices in America. But according to what I mentioned above, he couldn’t possibly be proud of his black heritage or successfully protest against white supremacy because of who his spouse is.
My next example is Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover). Childish Gambino is a black man whose partner is a white woman. Now, y’all should already know where I am going with this. The May 2018 release of his “This Is America” video. That. Man. Did. His. Homework! Once again, a black artist used his platform within the entertainment industry to bring awareness to current racial issues towards black people in America. The strong messages in that video and the way he chose to portray these messages shows the depth of his social and cultural awareness, and his willingness and lack of fear to put them on display.
We could talk about Venus and Serena Williams, Barack Obama (yes he married our queen Michelle Obama, but he has never been afraid to identify with both sides of his heritage), and the list could honestly go on. In my opinion, interracial relationships are a beautiful representation of what America and the world should be idealistically. Like I mentioned before, people who are not born within the black race or any minority/ethnic race, could not ever say they have walked the same path or same struggles of that particular minority. However, we have to appreciate those who are willing to listen, learn and acknowledge the type of privilege that they have been afforded, if they did not have to deal with those same struggles; and those people do very much exist in the world and they are working towards a future where it is inclusive to people of all races.
I grew up in a family where many of my cousins are bi-racial, and it helped shaped my own personal ideals and the kind of woman I am today. I am sure there were many moments in their lives where they questioned where they fit in racially, and this stems from the kind of cultural atmosphere currently surrounding this issue. If you are a person who is of mixed race (let’s say black and white or black and latina, etc…), and you choose to identify as a black person (which is your right to do), then that is perfectly fine! In this day and age today, there are those who claim that they are not black, but they are “mixed,” but they are mixed with BLACK and whatever other race their parent is. This, in my opinion, is an indication of self-hatred, and historically we can trace back to those during the Jim Crow era and beyond who chose to “pass as white.” There are some who did so out of fear, however, there were definitely those who felt that their lighter skin made them superior to their darker counterparts (check out my article on colorism). We need to make sure we check ourselves and that we are stirring society in such a way where bi-racial people are not ashamed or afraid to racially identify with both sides of who they are.
As a Bahamian-American woman who identifies as black, I say that being pro-black (as a black person) should not be contingent on who you choose your spouse to be. Yes, if I chose to marry a black man, he would understand from a social, cultural, and historical standpoint on what it means to be black in America. That being black in America is a not a trend or a fashion statement but a real and true lived out experience that does not stop when the television is turned off. If I chose, however, to marry outside of my race, my blackness does not get eradicated. I will never stop using my voice to bring awareness to what black individuals face on a daily basis, and my experience growing up as a black woman would not disappear if I married outside my race. I own my black identity. I am proud of my black identity, it was mine upon birth and it will forever be mine.
Ultimately, we need to learn how to create an environment where we can be free to fully embrace who are and fall in love with whomever we choose without judgment based on racial connotations. It is true that we do not live in that kind of idealistic world. At one time though, freedom from slavery was completely idealistic, and those who were living in it probably thought things would never change, but look where we are today. Yes, we still have a long ways to go when it comes to talking about race (and everything related to it) in America, but we have made progress and we will continue to do so as long as we have people who are passionate and willing to work towards that kind of future.
The images, with the exception of one, used in this article are courtesy of Google.