Amidst a world where fatalities in our community are a daily occurrence and cultural appropriation is at an all time high, black culture is under attack. While the number of protests that have taken place over the past year raised awareness for the conflicts that consistently surround us, this post will show that there is more than one way to protest. In fact, this list will outline 10 ways to combat racial conflict.
I. Take control of the conversation: Disallow whites to take ownership over our stories
It’s our history, so we can’t depend on white schools to teach it to us. It’s our worth, so we can’t expect those who robbed us of this to gift it back unscathed.
Thus any rendering of black history-contemporary or traditional should be issued by a black person (preferably a conscious black person). Contemporary history comes in the form of the news, an area where blackness is continually exploited to maintain stereotypes and obtain ratings.
White journalists in particular, often capitalize on the glamorizing of black stories when told by white people. This done in whites taking credit for bringing countless black injustices to the forefront. Two examples that hold hands across time are Henrietta Lacks and the contemporary tragedy of Kalief Browder.
Both stories proved commercially fruitful, in bringing both tragedy and injustice to the forefront. However, bringing this issue to the forefront failed to negate the seemingly inevitable unhappily ever after. Thus, it suggests that the white savior is only truly capable of saving him or her self, and we must tell out own stories so that the stories are not only told but heard.
II. Support our own businesses
Most of us work extremely hard for our money. However, much of this hard-earned money circles right back into white establishments. What if this money stayed in the black community?
If you take a look at any black community, you will notice that the majority of area businesses are not operated by black people. These vendors never dwell where they make their dollar. In fact, they take their black dollars back to their own communities to spend.
Now, if we as a people solely supported those who look like us, those who merely exploit the black community for profit would go bankrupt. We must acknowledge the power in our purse and begin to act in our best interest.
While I run the risk of coming off judgmental, I want to address the weave epidemic that plagues the black community. While the look works to qualify the natural beauty of black women, it is yet another business that exploits the black community.
You wouldn’t cover a golden crown with a bed sheet- so we as a group should refrain from covering our crowns of glory with hair from other ethnicities.
The hair you were born with was gifted to you for a reason. Please think twice about overtly praising the aesthetics of other ethnicities over your own at the expense of making non blacks rich in the process.
III. Think like a producer not a consumer
While minimizing supporting businesses operated by non-blacks is an accessible revolutionary act, we as a people must take this a step further. Specifically, we must begin thinking more like producers and less like consumers. So, it should never be where can I get a (insert item or product here), it should be one of 2 things:
How can I create/produce my desired item?
What black owned producer can I support?
While freedom starts in the mind, a large portion of freedom is in the ability to produce all that we consume. Thus, if we as black people use it, we must make it!
IV. Do not glamorize interracial relationship or biracial children
Despite casual romantic encounters becoming the contemporary face of relationships, who you marry and reproduce with is a huge decision. Contemporary culture glorifies interracial relationships, making them the face of a post- racial society. The off spring of interracial couples are becoming the contemporary face of blackness as believed to be the more beautiful, more intelligent medley of the formerly oppositional races.
I am here to say that black love is revolutionary. To choose a black partner and produce black children is to truly place black at the center. Choosing a non black partner while we as a race are under attack, weakens our stance. The gesture of going outside the race to marry and reproduce places the most central parts of your life as detached from blackness. Simply, black love is powerful in that it silently screams to the world that we are enough- that blackness is the beginning, middle and end for us as black people.
V. Use all acquired skills to uplift the black community
Education, although a hefty investment of both time and money, is made worthwhile if used for communal rather than personal gain. What our most cherished pioneers have in common (Harriet Tubman, Paul Robeson, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., George Jackson and Angela Davis) is that they used their acquired skill set for the greater good of their people. I mean, what good is any knowledge bottled all in one head?
VI. Don’t concern ourselves with white comfort
Too many times I encounter blacks overly concerned with maintaining the comfort of whites around them. For example, some blacks will tip toe around issues central to the black experience or merely bite their tongue to avoid revealing too much passion towards cultural issues.
The comfort of blacks, on the other hand, is a seldomly considered component of both traditional and contemporary society. Thus, blacks should never be less black to ensure the complacency of non others. Be black. Be unapologetic. Be unapologetically black.*
VII. Make a daily commitment to uplift the race
It can be as simple as complimenting a black woman on her appearance, or commending any black male or female for doing something well. We as a community are amazing, so why be shy in informing someone that we know how excellent they are?
VIII. Stop using the n word but don’t lose patience with those who haven’t caught on
The n-word is a term that traditionally dehumanized our ancestors. It was a term implemented to label the basest form of existence- an existence believed to be more in line with an animal than a human.
For these reasons, it is not revolutionary to be able to hear this word and not flinch, nor is colloquially tossing this word around lessening to its effect. The sole way to evolve from the term is to stop using it entirely.
Blacks largely underestimate their power in making things possible. Nothing is cool until a black person gets their hands on it. If we don’t use this term, it suddenly has an expiration date- if we do, the expiration date never comes.
IX. Patronize and popularize blacks who positively represent the culture
Bottom line: if black celebrities are not working to advance the race, they should not be supported. We as a culture cannot afford to be selfish, so if a member of our community is afforded the platform of celebrity and does not use this to positively uplift his or her people, they should not be regarded as allies solely on the basis of skin color.
For example, rapper Jay Z conveniently uses his blackness whenever he feels he is done wrong. These instances are not suggest that Jay Z aligns himself with the black experience, but to evoke passion from his fan base. This is an example of a black celebrity who exploits his own culture for personal gain. As a result, he should be categorized with most non-blacks and should not be trusted under any circumstances.
X. Place black at the center of all things
You may be a woman/man, a student, a parent, sibling, fortune 500 employee, etc but you must be black first. As faces of the revolution we must carry our blackness with pride. Despite the construct of blackness being initially cast upon us as something negative, blackness as a color and culture is something that we as black people must place at out communal center as our most cherished attribute.
Whether you decide to implement one of these suggestions, or all ten remember that black is beautiful. Also, be mindful that the revolution starts inward and works its way out. Thus, merely by reading this post you have taken a step down revolutionary road…
* The phrase “unapologetically black” is taken from a colleague at work and thus is not a SB original phrase.