My Beef with Blackness and the Measuring of it

It’s been a minute since I wrote. so bear with me. I know the topic or my words carry no weight, but I need to get this one off my chest. Blackness annoys me. I’m not saying being black annoys me. No, I am not on my “I’m not Black I’m OJ” stepping stool. I’m saying the idea of blackness. What is blackness? Well, my personal experience is a measure of how black you are. It doesn’t make sense, does it? let me explain it. Blackness, by definition, has several meanings. However, the two I’m talking about are these.

Blackness: the fact or state of belonging to any human group having dark-colored skin.

Blackness: the quality or character associated with black people

That second one is the one I have beef with. That second one leads to a strange conversation or measuring contest of what is black. Are you black enough? This second definition used to measure one’s connection with their black heritage is a problem. It is built on stereotypes and racism, for starters. Second, it leads to a narrative that there is a sole one-defined way to be black. We are black people but that doesn’t mean we are all the same. Blackness should not be used as a measure or erasure of the experience people have.

From personal experience I have had my quote on quote “blackness” questioned many times. Middle Eastern shorty questioned me on how I knew who was FKA Twig was. She said, “Real n***** don’t know who she is”, and laughed at my musical knowledge. FKA Twig is black by the way. In the same token, I was caught listening to “Real N**** Roll Call” by Lil Jon and The East Side Boyz. I was met with a maybe you should listen to less aggressive music. My quote on quote “blackness” was being measured and policed by others. That is my beef. feels as if blackness is an arbitrary measure of you as a person who happens to be black. At the same time, it is the only measure that matters to people.

You are black first, second, third, and so on. You are not a poet you are a black poet, you are not a mother, you are a black mother. And you who that designation of black first on you white people did. So why are we so hell bend on keeping the black designation alive?

That second definition boxes us in. There are no whiteness equivalents to that definition. Look it up. There is no definition saying the characteristics of white people. Why is that? Cause blackness comes from a racist mind that thinks we as black people are all the same.

I spoke to two black women (couldn’t get another black man’s opinion for reasons) and they feel that the second definition is a show of pride. That spades, Ebonics, and hip hop are the black characteristics that we as the black community will not allow to be put in a negative light. That explanation doesn’t sit well with me. Are we gonna box blackness into things? Like get their point blackness is used to defend well blackness but something went wrong with it. We started putting things into the blackness and whiteness box that now if you black and listen to punk rock (Which we invented) you are an outlier. Blackness as a measuring device just doesn’t work and I’m pretty sure an episode of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air covered this.

If you put this idea that there is some blackness measuring chart that we need to monitor or police in our community, then you are wrong. Blackness is the experience of being black. Not some arbitrary characteristic that someone designated being black fits into. You can be a punk, snowboarding, camping, anime-watching, black person. You don’t have to speak in Ebonics or pretend you are from the Bronx or Brooklyn when you grew up in Connecticut. There is no right way to be black. Your experiences as a black person are more than enough. In my opinion, we need to stop measuring blackness.

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