If y’all don’t stop using People of Color when what you mean to say is Black …ooooooh, this really grinds my gears.
Oh, excuse me, where are my manners?
Good Morning Family,
How are you on this last Monday in October?
Can you believe October is over already? I hope you had a lovely weekend even with the unrelenting rain that soaked New York City yesterday.
But back to what I was saying.
I really want to know why we can’t say Black and White.
I know why Latino…errrrr….Hispanic….eerrrrrr…is….um…..complex. I know why Asian is complex. But why is it so darn complex to say Black and White?
I know we all know that in early 2001 The Human Genome Project revealed to us that there was basically no darn difference between the “races.”
I also know that we can thank Johann Friedrich Blumenbach for his race-based classifications in 1795, when for whatever reason (world domination and subjugation) dude set out to prove that Caucasians were the prettiest, smartest, bestest humans in the world.
Blumenbach’s five categories were: Caucasian, the white race; Mongolian, the yellow race; Malayan, the brown race; Ethiopian, the black race; and American, the red race.
My dude made up races based on colors in a box of Crayola crayons y’all.
This was called science at the time. A science that created racial discrimination, subjugation, oppression, genocide and worldwide colonization by White folks. I mean, do you know how demented and insecure one has to be to create a system to make themselves seem like the best thing on earth? Evil genius, right?
Now Ibram X. Kendi, in his book, Stamped from the Beginning, explains to us that racist White ideology goes all the way back to The Bible. Kendi details how White folk attributed the color Black and more importantly Black skin to the “curse of Ham.” You know, the son who apparently turned Black because he mocked his father Noah. Don’t know the story?
Basically, Noah got drunk asf, fell asleep bucket-ass-nekkid. Ham, the youngest of Noah’s three sons, walked in and was like, yooooooooo, my dude bust it open last night, he went to tell his brothers so they could see. His brothers were like, nahhhhh, we not gonna do daddy like that. They covered him up and made sure he could rest well in his drunken stupor. The next morning when Noah found out what had happened he cursed Ham and all of his descendants, the Canaanites, and decreed that they would be the lowest of all humans; they would be SLAVES.
Shem who eventually led to the line of Abraham and the Abrahamic religions was granted by his father, that he would rule over Ham and his lineage would all be his slaves. And Japeth, the other brother, who apparently starts the lineage of the people of Europe is granted extended territory by his father and shelter in his brother Shem’s territory, and is also bestowed with the honor of Ham and the Canaanites being his slaves.
Oh yeah, and then Ham turns Black after the curse is bestowed after many, many, many, centuries of White Supremacy ideology.
Don’t believe me?
Congregation please turn to Genesis chapter 9 verses 18-29. Let the congregation say Amen when you’ve gotten there.
Repeat after me: “Cursed be Canaan!
The lowest of slaves
will he be to his brothers.”
SideBar: You know I want to talk about the undertones in this bible passage but I’m gonna let it go. Not today Jesus. NOT TO-DAY.
And the New York Times gives a pretty good break down also of Noah and his messiness and how it lead to the subjugation of Black skinned folk throughout the world.
Man, I am so lost now with the point I was trying to make…
Oh yes, White people took it upon themselves to create race and to put Black people at the bottom of the race pile and NOW can’t even say the word Black. And listen, I KNOW the complexity of Blackness and all the ways they have created to name us. White folks been trying to decide what to call us since biblical days; Canaanites, Ethiopians, Moors, Negros, Niggers, Colored, Black, Minority, African, African-American and now we land on People of Color.
Side Bar: Don’t judge me because the names aren’t in chronological order or if I forgot a few.
And with People of Color, I don’t know if you’re talking about Black folk. I have been in situations when Black folk are talking specifically about Black folks experience and will say People of Color and I have to stop them and be like, “which people of color are you talking about?” I have had Asian people come up to me and ask, “Am I a person of color?” I have had White folks come up to me and say, “I have color also, my skin is not White. It is olive. Wouldn’t that make me a person of color?”
Yo, for real. This ish is getting out of hand. White folks want to be People of Color, Black folks don’t want to make the White folks feel uncomfortable by saying, BLACK. Little Black kids are like I’m Brown. And don’t get me started on Brown. There are maddddddddddddd BROWNS.
Who you talking, Latinos, Indians, Muslims, Northern Africans, multi-racial people, light skin Black folk? Who tf is BROWN?
We got a problem yall. We going right back to the classifications of the German dude up top. All we’re missing is calling people yellow and red.
Now listen, I am guilty of using the term People of Color. BUT and yes I mean but, when I use it, I mean to point out the intersectional ways White Supremacy has jacked up everyone who doesn’t fit into the category of Whiteness.
And, oh, let me define Whiteness for you baby. Since, I (and my team) LITERALLY defined Whiteness a few years back.
Middle to upper class White, heteronormative, Judeo-Christian, able-bodied, English-speaking male “American” norm, to which everyone else is “Other-ed” (Brann, Morales-James, & Zwerger, 2015).
You like that, right?
And I also mean people who have been absorbed into whiteness because of the lack of melanin in their skin. We all know the Irish, Italians, Polish and Jews were not originally White. They earned their Whiteness card over time.
Through the subjugation of Blacks!
And even with our definition we make room for the fact that we have melanated White folks out in these streets. But that’s a whole other post.
My point is this, well I have a few, bare with me.
- Be specific about who the hell you talking about when you talking about the marginalization of people.
- Black is inclusive of all people of the African Diaspora, regardless of where the slave ship abducted you to, or where you migrated to on your own, or if you stayed in the motherland. I would love it if we evolved to the term African Diaspora because we would be CLEAR asf that we talking about people whose skin is kissed by the sun and experienced the full and complete fury of the White race. But I know if we done fallen back to the terms of the 1700s, I’ll be waiting for a long ass time on this.
- Can we agree to ONLY use the term People of Color when we’re talking about the intersectional marginalization of groups of people through the use of White Supremacy? Shoot, even that may be suspect because Black folks are specifically pointed out in the definition. White Supremacy is the belief that White people are superior to those of all other races, especially the Black race, and should therefore dominate society.
- Can we grow up our vocabulary? Do we dare call people based on their ethnic delineation? Can we dig into how people want to be called? Can we make things messy or as I like to say “complexify the gray.” You know gray already complex asf. Let’s make it more complex. Forget the extremes of Black and White. Let’s stay in the gray and make it more gray. I don’t want to say Latino. I want to say Mexican, Puerto Rican, Ecuadorian. Oh, even more gray-er Afro-Taino-Puerto Rican. Unless the person wants me to call them Latino, or just Taino, or just Puerto Rican. Yes, yes, yes, yes, this shit will get messy because some Black person gonna be like I’m not Black, I’m half Cherokee and Half Geechee. But I’m willing to go there.
I know what you’re thinki. Wouldn’t this approach separate us even more? I don’t think so. I think it will bring us closer together. I think it will allow us to see each of our humanity and our connection. We will then be able to dig into our cultural traditions and find our way back to each other.
Whiteness’ sole power is to divide, separate, conquer, kill, colonize and capitalize. That’s Whiteness.
Whiteness doesn’t share a cultural identity, other than a racial ideology of domination. But, it’s not like there are traditions and holidays that celebrate Whiteness and it’s subjugation of others.
Ok, maybe, there is.
But there definitely isn’t any safety in Whiteness.
Ok I, may be wrong again.
Let me keep it real.
I want the whispering to stop when we have to say White or Black. We don’t whisper when we say Asian or Latino. Oh yeah and stop stumbling over the term Indigenous. I know we have been trained to say Indian but let’s grow our vocabulary tf up. Let’s talk with people, hear their stories, let them tell us how they want to be referred to and let’s allow room and complexity, because some times I want to be called an Afro-Caribbean-American woman because I’m intersectional like that. Other times I’m BLACK and then other times I’m from the African Diaspora. I know with the first and the last you might be curious to learn more, hear my story, dig into my identity but with Black you think you know my story and you decide who I am based on that designation.
Maybe that’s why no one wants to say Black or White? Hmmmph.
I still don’t care. SAY IT!
BLACK is diverse asf and if White people would give up Whiteness they too, could be diverse asf. They could have access to culture and tradition and holidays that weren’t connected to genocide and global capitalism which seeks to colonize and destroy. And wouldn’t that make White people feel better, feel safer, feel more connected to the human story.
The point I’m making is stop saying People of Color when you mean Black people and when you say Black, have some damn curiosity about it.