Good Negroes

“I’m light skinned but I’m still a dark nigga” -Drake

A. I love that lyric … it’s deeper than rap though.

B. It’s how I feel in my heart, not dark in terms of skin color, but I’m real Black.

C. I’m Black Panther Black, Black Lives Matter Black, Five Percenter in front of Queensbridge reciting today’s mathematics Black, James Baldwin and Nikki Giovanni “A Dialogue” Black, Good Times Black Jesus Black…but don’t lie to me.

D. I’m not a good negro. I’m not so thankful for some grace of the White man to allow me education, a home, sound mind and body, a paycheck, a nice car, freedom from slavery, to be a good negro. I’m a good HUMAN but I’m still Nat Turner if need be… I will revolt.

Oh, I don’t really like good negroes.

….

So let’s get some basic definitions out of the way…

A bad negro is… confident, collective minded, and proud of Blackness. The stereotypes of a look… hoodie, sagging jeans, Timbs, scowl, braids, angry demeanor, large body, poor, is just that, a stereotype. But in Trump’s America, one doesn’t have to look a way anymore, one just needs to be a way. A black man in a suit and luxury car is just as much a thug as your White neighbor whose wife brought you muffins and who offers your hubby a beer is a hood wearing KKK Grand Wizard. A bad negro has dreams and aspirations that don’t aspire to Whiteness.

Whiteness is the state of being unfairly privileged because of ethnically/racially centered nationalism and capitalism that favors the individual over the collective.

Now… a good negro.

1. A good negro is interested in securing and ensuring all his/her privileges remain intact. First, we got the educated, well spoken, non threatening, hard working Black privilege (the they aren’t all thugs privilege). Then we have the light skin privilege (the other drops matter privilege). Finally we have the attractive privilege (the “he/she could get it” privilege) . Good negroes try real hard to maintain those bc it feeds their families, buys them big houses, funds their Maldives trips, and gets them a good job which helps maintain a good credit score so they can push a clean whip.

2. A good negro adopts the do you want more attitude instead of the I’m gonna inspire you to see you need more. They buy into the crabs in the bucket mentality, and the fallacy of the American Dream. It’s an individualistic way of looking at growth, inspired by capitalism and democracy, that many of us took on after integration to stay in the White part of town. Our culture and ancestry is collectivist. We do better culturally when we move in groups and pick up and collect members along the way.

3. A good negro cares incessantly about how they are viewed by White people AS a Black person. It’s one thing to be a humanist, care about people, and want to connect with people,m. Yet, when you have to stifle parts of yourself to be accepted, that’s diminishing. That’s it, good negroes diminish parts of who they are… often the urban, Black Southern, extended family, and coded parts of themselves. Most of them eventually forget the code to switch to.

Why is a good negro a problem?

Well, traditionally he is mostly financially successful. But he is simultaneously culturally poor and has become ancestrally ignorant. You can only shed so much of yourself until you lose it all together. For the Black people and youth seeking financial success, they will look to the good negro for schemes of professional, social, and personal validation in a world where gentrification, redistricting, school district financing, colorism, and racism constantly tell them they are unworthy. They will learn from a good negro that we are lacking, instead of seeing oppression for what it is.

Whiteness in America is the hottest commodity going. It’s the central source of money and power. Any system that powerful is always clear that they are powerful only as long as there are powerless. So they push us apart from one another in strategic ways, so we cannot realize our collective power. Gentrification… breaks up urban centers with wealth possibility to keep us poor and separate. Redistricting… breaks us away from each other politically to drown our votes in Whiteness. Colorism… puts one in-group against the other and looks like internal fighting, that is really just a spawn of racism. Racism… the biggest system of racial oppression that forces Black people to fight for crumbs so we starve each other. No one with so much power would do so much work to keep another powerless, unless they knew how much power we actually yield!

We must stop sacrificing ourselves to whatever privileges we are given and attempting to appease White people by being quiet and acting dependent upon their decision to give us something… anyone that giveth can taketh away. You must be aware of where and how you diminish your Blackness and at what cost, so you know when to jump out of the privilege infested waters, take a class in shuckin and jivin, or just allow yourself to drown.

Bad negroes choose to swim, and catch some fish along the way… it’s why we are confident!

Good negroes don’t harness that power… they wait for a life preserver and have to depend on their best behavior to get a treat.

Fuck your treat, I’m going for the meal… and mine has yams.

“The yam is the power that be, you can smell it when I’m walking down the street!” -Kendrick Lamar “King Kunta”

Absorb the Light

What is Black… a color, a race, a culture, a phenomenon, a way of life?

According to James Baldwin, To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.

Is that the only experience, or is it bigger and broader or more limited? What is Black, to be Black, and the general experience of Blackness? Or is there even a such thing? Have we been defined by a word that doesn’t even begin to define who and what we are as a people?

Color Me Black

The very definition of Blackness is as broad as that of Whiteness, yet we’re seemingly always trying to find a specific, limited definition. –Issa Rae

We don’t have to seek to limit who we are to understand who we are. History tells us, without doing any serious research, that when America was colonized, Native Americans and African slaves were categorized as savage, as a justification for robbing them of their indigenous land, and forced labor and oppression. Their dark skin categorized them by color, and therefore distinct from White people. Science, religion, and intelligence were manipulated to further strengthen the position of White superiority, and hence the construct of race was born. Our dark skin put us on the lowest rung of the totem pole in America.

But America isn’t where this separation by skin color began. Plato and Socrates learned at the feet of African philosophers in Egypt, where concepts such as language and mathematics actually began… not Greece. However these truths were erased from these men’s history over time, and these modalities attributed only to White philosophers, because the admission that these men were educated by Black people would interfere with the global manipulation of race as a measure of intelligence and civility. Ultimately, race is a political construct to justify power, control, and wealth. Black is the term we were given to identify us… ultimately it means nothing.

We range from vanilla to deep dark chocolate, every hue of brown with oranges, peaches, and yellows, toned up or down with white or black pigment. Our color is very real. Our race is the pigment of the oppressor’s imagination.

I guess I’m darker than the shadows of the darkest alley, that they always scared to go in, Boo! -Brother J, X-Clan “Funkin Lessons”

Phenomenal Culture

My skin absorbs the suns rays and my hair defies gravity. You can’t tell me I’m not magical.Unknown

So we know what they told us Black is… but what is it really, who are we, and what have we made it?

Black culture is American culture. Bodies that curve, hair that salutes the sun, skin kissed by it, style influenced by global art and urban youth, hip hop, rhythm, swag, creativity. We are simultaneously a people and a phenomenon. A people and a phenomenon.

As a people, we are both perfect and imperfect. We are made in God’s perfect image with human imperfections… just people. Flesh and blood and veins and capillaries. We bleed when cut, we cry when we are in pain. We love and fear and hurt and holler… “the way they do my life.” But mainly, we live. We tend to live a bit louder as a result of years of silence. So we flex harder. We hustle harder. We dance more freely. We dress more creatively. Our speech more colorful. Our laugh more robust. Our hair bigger. Our swag doper.

It’s a result of the African drum beats in our souls. The taste of the custard apple on our tongues. The smell of lavender fields in CapeTown in our noses. The bright colors of wax print batiks dancing on our rods and cones. The feel of our fingers in our ancestors hair, coils and links, curls and cottony soft clouds.

It’s our call and response…

MC:”Somebody say oh yeah…”

The Crowd:”Oh yeah”

It’s our swag surf, our milly rock, Black Twitter, slang, cornrows, box braids, and #beardgang. It’s in our community and our sense of community. Buy Black; Black Lives Matter; Black mixed with Black; I’m Rooting for Everybody Black. It’s in our harsh judgement of each other, both despite and in response to our harsh judgements from the outside. Don’t watch Empire, build an Empire; Stop Jocking Jay-Z and Judge Jay-Z; Buy a Popeyes not a Popeyes Chicken Sandwich.

We are perfectly imperfect. We are human. But be clear, we are lit AF!

Nothing I accept about myself can be used against me to diminish me. -Audre Lorde

The Light

Imitating us… and still, they’ll never be us, nigga. –Rapsody “Nina”

A whole entertainment family has profited off of our culture, so much so it’s entire set of progeny bears our blood. White pop stars show no shame copying our entire performances for their profit and popularity. And while art has no bounds, pop locking has taken over country line dancing as their dance of choice. They visit doctors to get our lips and asses. They feign our urban dialect to be down. Yeah, we are the shit… it’s true. It’s also irritating and disrespectful AF, but let’s stay on topic.

As much as we are painted as unAmerican, our very culture has been pilfered by this countries haves. The truth is, we are the chosen ones. Who else is this disrespected and this coveted all at the same time. To be Black is to be so amazing that we who we are is wanted and desired so badly, we are loathed.

Black excellence we gon let em see. Jay-Z, “Legacy

It has been exactly 400 years since we set foot in this country. In that span of time we have transformed ourselves from stolen Kings and Queen treated worse than dogs, to business owners, billionaires, artists, philanthropists, and everything our imaginations could conjure. Black people have positioned ourselves to be on par with the haves through hard work, intellect, and hustle that was kept from us by oppression, violence, and politics. We started from the bottom, and now we are definitely here. Barack. Oprah. Beyoncé. Wakanda. And while we are still very affected by the systematic use of race to threaten our rise and success, the very real truth of the matter is this…

Rainbows are one of God’s miracles, an arch of of every color on the spectrum reflected by the sun through droplets of water. The color black is the result of an object absorbing every ray of color produced by the light.

Black people carry inside of us, every color from red to violet. On the outside we are every hue of brown from the most muted beige to the most saturated umber. We are God’s human rainbow.

So, what is Black? Black is the way we walk, talk, live, and love. Black is our truth, our rhythm, our blues, our soul, our jazz, our hip, and our hop. We don’t stop. Black is the light. A people and a phenomenon.

(Thanks to Courtney Springer for the topic. He’s a comic, he’s Black, and he’s funny… {told you, we are all the things}. Check him out at Courtney2Funny )