Blacker Face

blackface

Confession: During junior high (some of you call it ‘middle school’) and my first couple years of high school I pretended to be Black™. It reached its zenith during 8th grade when a fellow suburban race perpetrator and I shoplifted red bandannas from a local K-Mart so we could more effectively ‘claim a set.’ I wasn’t too good at the faux-Black™ thing though. I could never quite master the noun/verb disagreement, disregard for the possessive and superfluous pluralization (example: “We goin’ over Tim mama house to play some Maddens.”) or that damn Swag™. I had my moments though, but I was far too inconsistent. Oddly enough, there were a few white dudes I knew who were WAY BETTER at this than I. I was in awe of them actually. Took notes an’ everything.

Yes, I’m being (somewhat; I really ‘did’ practice) facetious, but really, what does it take to be Black™? Is it a numbers game? Am I Black™ because I have (seemingly) more brown-skin genetic material in my makeup than any other information? Is it simply a culture? If so, why can’t a non-brown-skinned person Black™ identify? What if they grew up in it, understood it on a deep level? Or is it all about the reaction the brown-skin elicits? The non-brown-skinned Black™ identifier cannot be Black™ because people do not SEE them as Black™ due to their lack of brown-skin. But wouldn’t that make Blackness™ superficial? Or is it about the pain the (typically negative) reactions cause? Is Blackness™ pain-derived? What if the Black™ identifying, non-brown-skinned person gets cosmetic surgery to irreversibly darken their skin? Would they be Black™ then? I’m sure they would experience the negative reactions, and the resulting pain that seem to be its most celebrated and romanticized hallmarks. Seriously, what is it? There’s gotta be someone out there who can explain this to me. What the fuck is Blackness™? Oh, and while we’re on the subject: What would a White™ identifying, brown-skinned person have to do to in order to become White™. Consume a lot of mayonnaise and pumpkin spice lattes?

After I was TOLD I was Black™, and then subsequently not Black™ ‘enough’ I spiraled into an identity crisis that I’m STILL digging my way out of. Before I was unceremoniously labeled Black™ I was just a goofy kid with brown skin who followed WHATEVER flight of fancy he had. The world felt open, big, oystery as fuck. The misanthropy I carry to this very day is a by-product of being told what I was supposed to be and how I was supposed to act. This didn’t jibe with my personal truth. Really, I don’t ‘feel’ like anything; Black™, White™, Jedi—nothing. Yeah, I experience Racism™, and it’s annoying. Especially since it comes from people whose identities are just as reaction-based as the one I damn near killed myself (figuratively and literally) to attain, and then subsequently (resentfully) rejected. Truth is, I feel like a damn alien (from Planet Aspergeria) on this blue ball. I dig all the diverse cultures and peoples, but I don’t feel like I’m a member of any particular one of ’em; I don’t feel like I have a cultural home (no longer want one either). However, ironically, I feel I can BECOME anybody I want. You guys can have your rigidly defined identities, and although I talk my shit, I’m actually glad you’re so head-over-heels for ‘em. Affords me a wealth of material to mine. A plethora of masks to wear.

I remember when I first discovered Blackness™, I abandoned my best friend (who was white) and the Indian girl who I had a crush on because I knew (actually only ignorantly THOUGHT) the black kids would not accept me if I held on to them. Funny thing is: I knew my friend and the girl were different colors/nationalities than me, but I NEVER thought they were DIFFERENT than me. In my ignorance I caused a small crisis within the Indian girl’s family (they thought I was VERY different, unacceptably so). I actually miss that ignorance. It was kinda blissful. I thought I could do and be whatever and whoever the hell I wanted to be. I’m sure I ran into some roadblocks (people who denied me because of my race) back then, but I was too oblivious to care. I just dismissed them as assholes…and now that I think about it, something about that doesn’t seem so ‘bad.’

American Blackness™ (you gotta parse this shit down) was so exotic to me. I remember how shocked I was when I first heard black people calling each other ‘nigga’ (“I thought that was considered ‘bad,’ yet they’re using it like it’s an analogue for ‘dude?!'”). I wanted to know more…so I studied them. Although the color of my skin granted me (near) unfettered access to their world, I still felt like an outsider. I could never ‘master’ the culture, but I was able to amass a ton of information in the process. A peculiar thing happens when you hawkishly study people in an effort to be accepted by them: If they reject you, resentment builds, and resentment mixed with a comprehensive knowledge of a group’s collective bullshit is a helluva combination. Just ask these cats, they studied white culture and cultivated a similar comprehensive knowledge, one they have parlayed into an incredibly lucrative industry.




Real cute way to reconcile with white supremacy. You tryin’ to act like you don’t identify with any group, but from where I stand: You whitewashed as fuck. Funny thing is, you think this is some postmodern, identity-politics-subverting manifesto, but really, it ain’t nothin’ but a celebration of your REJECTION of your blackness. You were ‘shocked’ by black culture because you had been indoctrinated by white culture; you were—and still ARE—a ‘white identifying, brown-skinned person!’ And stop all that ™ shit, it’s condescending and corny. All right, I’m out.

Interesting points, I’ll have to ‘unpack’ them later. While I got you here though, can you tell me what Blackness® is?

“First off, fuck you. Second, I don’t know what blackness means to anyone else, but to me—ASSERTING blackness means being whatever the fuck I wanna be sans apology or explanation.”

That sounds a lot like The American Dream®.

I know, ain’t that shit ironic as fuck?

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