Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Community Divided: Why Do Black People Find So Many Ways to Separate Ourselves?

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It’s a shame that in 2011 race is still an issue in the United States. What’s even more of a shame is that Black people are still finding ways to tear each other down, ridicule each other, and find ways to separate us, based on skin color, our neighborhoods, and our familial backgrounds. I’ve come across multiple articles within the past week that discuss race within the Black community. A few weeks ago, my book club read “Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America” by Eugene Robinson. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the comments Jalen Rose made regarding Grant Hill and other Duke University basketball players during the documentary “Fab Five”. “Clutch” magazine had an article titled “What Kind of Black are You?“. And lastly, “Coco and Creme“, another on-line magazine, had an article titled “Do Mixed Chicks Hair Care Products Make Light Seem Right?”. Because I have a lot to say, this will be (at least) a two-parter.

Related Reading: Authentically Relating: Building Strong Bonds in Black America

First, let’s discuss what is Black. Black is beautiful, successful, strong, educated, resilient, historic, amazing, wonderful, insightful…I could go on. What I don’t understand is why we, Black folk, continue to find ways to divide ourselves. Some think you’re not Black enough if you use proper English. Others think you’re not Black enough if you do well in school. You might be too Black if you wear your pants hanging from your tail. Too Black may include having locs or being natural. All of these things are ridiculous. Growing up, most of my friends in school were white, and I got ridiculed by some of the Black kids; I got told things like “You talk like a white girl”, “Is everything all white?”, and my personal favorite (a message in my middle school yearbook) “Oreo, I hope you unlock the magic this summer.” Yes, kids are cruel, and we hope they don’t grow up to be cruel adults. Having an education has always been synomous with being an “Uncle Tom” or acting white or not being Black enough. Why is that? Why is it cool to not do well in school? Although Southern parents divorced when I was young, both parents were, and still are, involved in my life and made sure I did well in school. Both parents are college educated so going to college wasn’t a question for me-the question was, “Where are you going?” But I digress…

Why must we separate ourselves? The author of “What Kind of Black Are You” and Robinson address the various “sub-groups” in Black America, those Blacks who are from the Carribean or Africa. I strongly believe in embracing your culture and your country of origin if you’re not American, but why must we belittle others who aren’t like us, which happens at times? Black people come in all hues, shapes, sizes, cultures, and the like, so we should embrace our differences, but not go so far as to demean someone who’s not EXACTLY like us. I love my Southern heritage, but embrace those Blacks who are African, Caribbean, Northern, and wherever else they may be from.

What do you guys think? Why are we still finding ways to separate ourselves as Black people? Is this all this still relevant in 2011 or should we find ways to bring ourselves together as one race?

LaToya Grant is a Government contractor, beauty artist, and freelance writer that currently resides in Washington, DC. She is a true Southern Belle that shares her life experiences on her blog Southern Girl in the City (www.evolvingelle.wordpress.com). She is an optimist, reality TV junkie, beach lover, Black History buff, daughter, friend, and appreciator of life. LaToya can be found on Twitter as Evolving Elle at www.twitter.com/evolvingelle.

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