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Black People Aren’t a Monolith, But Are They?

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Most of us have heard the saying, “Black people aren’t a monolith,” but most of us have also heard, “all skinfolk ain’t kinfolk,” and while I agree with both sentiments, it is hard for me not to see the contradictions in those statements but as I thought about it further, I think they both can co-exist.

While I have never been white, I have lived in and out of a very white suburb for a good twenty years of my life, i.e., my momma’s house. Growing up in the suburbs I never had to assert any Black unity because white people were quick to lump me into whatever Black-ass category or associate me with whomever they wanted whilst simultaneously setting me apart. I think back to having literally gotten out of deep water and being asked if I could swim.

Well, the person standing directly next to me was asked on my behalf.

While some of my white friends were quick to other me away from Black people merely at their convenience, they still knew my experience was different than theirs, that it wasn’t white. To many people I grew up with, anything that I did or had that was up to their standards was achieved despite my Blackness, not because of it. Even if they were wrong about the differences, they still correct that there was a difference.  

Blackness, even in its homogeny, is achieved by several different aspects of the culture, and not everyone is going to be as enthusiastic about each of its different parts. There is a collective energy amongst Black people to clap on the two and four instead of one and three. The ubiquitous and dap and head nod, the “Okaaaaayyyyy” yelled from a previously unfamiliar Black woman that is telling you that you look much more than just, ok, these are beats of the Black pulse.

Black culture even comes with its own dialect. 

The energy of understanding the struggle while celebrating the shine is a common theme amongst Black people. While I would gather that most Black people speak AAVE, there are many variations by location and frequency. Some Black people who exert the privilege involved in being able to successfully code-switch don’t always honor Black people who don’t. Certain aspects of Black culture that aren’t as important in other cultures or even viewed negatively by other cultures seem to be erroneously stereotyped to the entire Black consciousness.

That’s where the monolith ends.

White people will have a fervent love for stereotypical Black music while also freely listening to Rock, Alternative, Country,and anything of the like, but I have seen firsthand, multiple times, the shock on White people’s faces when Black people are just as knowledgeable about music other than Hip-Hop and R&B.  

The collective Black struggle is one that is so wholly felt that it is difficult to digest when someone who looks like you and therefore is more than likely treated like you can deny the collective pain and even the infliction of the pain itself. Black conservatives are such a niche group that there are literal articles simply naming them. While Black people are pretty religious, which of course would lean conservative, the overwhelming issues that need to be addressed in the Black community are generally ignored by the Republican party, so it is a bit of a mindf-ck to see Black conservatives. It is even more disconcerting when you have Black conservatives that seem to be actively derailing the existence of racism or its ill effects; Candace Owens and Clarence Thomas have unfortunately entered the chat. 

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Clarence and Candace, or should I say C&C bullsh-t factory, are both married to white nationalists. White Nationalists. Not white people with f-cked-up views and social blind spots. Marry whom you want or whatever, but both are married to people who are in some way not only tied to trying to overthrow the government and whose audience pretty much has the most vitriol for people who look like them. If the “inward,” were thrown around in either bedroom, I wouldn’t be shocked. The biggest problem with them and people of the like is that their few voices are incredibly powerful when it comes to silencing the millions of Black voices who are loud about racism. They make white people feel good about their racism, “it can’t be that bad, if these two agree.” Those skinfolk definitely ain’t kinfolk.

There is room for both. There is room for Blackness to be so distinct and unmovable that in its culture and collective struggle while realizing all Black people are not interested in the same things. That is where the exact distinction is. Within the Black community, there is a space for different pursuits that may even involve inspirations or interests from other cultures, but essentially the goal is pretty common, to overcome, and dazzle while doing so. 

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