2017 marked the last complete year I will spend in my twenties, however I could not have anticipated this year being my most resonant year yet. Never have I felt so immersed in the black experience and full of purpose. I admittedly have drifted further away from some family and friends and toward the eternal spirits of our ancestors. I smile less and have taken a firm (er) stance against anti-blackness. A stance that has steered me away from western holidays and non-analytical chatter about white people or whiteness. A stance that makes me unapologetically black and indifferent to the hurt the feelings of those who find happiness, either indirectly or directly, in the disenfranchisement of the black collective.
As George Jackson said in Soledad Brother:
“I am not a very nice person, I confess. I don’t believe in such things as free speech when it’s used to rob and defame me” (Jackson 3905).
I too am indifferent to the “rights” of others if it means my collective disenfranchisement. If that makes me “mean” than so be it, but I rather be mean than an active participant in the oppression of my people.
“Mean-ness” or the callous violence of the white collective, remains pervasive, 2017 being a year of Color Confrontation. The Color Confrontation theory—a theory birthed from the brilliant mind of the late Dr Francis Cress Wesling (author of The Isis Papers—an essential read for every member of the black collective).
The Color Confrontation Theory encapsulates white fixation on color. Wesling asserts
white color deficiency as a catalyst for racism or white oppression against the bearers of color—blacks:
Acutely aware of their inferior genetic ability to produce skin color, whites built the elaborate myth of white genetic superiority. Furthermore, whites set about the huge task of evolving a social, political and economic structure that would support the myth of the inferiority of Blacks and other non-whites. (Wesling 382)
The clout and symbolic profit awarded to whites in the pseudo ability to produce color dominated 2017, from the cover of GQ magazine, to YouTube stars, to a black studies course in a white institution.
The White Woman’s Son
One of the most central and conversation generating images this year was that of former NFL star Colin Kaepernick. From events held to get him a job, to t-shirts and hostages created in his honor. Kaepernick-the offspring of a white woman—became the face of contemporary activism. Many bought into the hype and proudly sipped the Kaepernick KoolAid, fatally overlooking how his popularity individualized a collective issue. Namely, there should be no noise regarding Kaepernick’s inability to play for the NFl, and more conversation about freeing all black bodies from the football plantation, about ceasing spectatorship where the oppressed cast an oppositional gaze onto the well-paid workers of white team owners. In actuality, Kap’s central placement has nothing to do with activism at all. His central placement has everything to do with Wesling’s Color Confrontation theory or the ability of a white woman to create color. It has everything to do with reproducing the fatally persistent image of white Jesus figure birthed from the limbs of the mythic white woman who “immaculately conceived” the “savior” of the human race.
Kaepernick therefore is not a figure of freedom, but rather a symbol of what the late Dr. Bobby Wright called mentacide or “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a person’s or group’s mind.” Furthermore, to sip this Kaepernick Koolaid is to drink poison.
In 2017, television alternate Youtube continued to thrive– its biggest stars interracial couples, their fetishized “love,” and objectified biracial offspring. The medium prolonged its fifteen minutes of relevancy in several announcements of more interracial children to arrive by early 2018. Specifically, the McClure family, Jamie and Nikki, and Gabe and Babe television, all announced that they were expecting. While overtly a celebration of new life, the socially reproduced image of a white man fathering a child “of color” exposes a fixation on white male ability to create color. This celebrated image functions similarly to the lynchings that populate the formal black past. Lynchings, a fatal act that often followed black male castration—an act Wesling argues is a deliberate attack on the black male ability to produce color—something the white man cannot do innately. Thus, these popular images and their announcements function to usurp the black male innate ability to create color, by fictively casting the white man in this image.
Furthermore, to indulge in the social media celebration of the fictive white male ability to create color as a member of the black collective, is to overlook a power blacks have naturally in favor of a white supplement. These exalted images depict an evolution past cultural appropriation to color appropriation.
Creating Color Via Syllabus
Perhaps the biggest lesson I received this year came in the form of a black studies course taught by a non-black person of color literally and figuratively espoused to whiteness. The course proved one of the most violent experiences of my life—bearing a veiled testament to the intent to institutionalize. Black studies as implemented by non-black institutions by non- black scholars, fills a diversity quota and controls what objects of the institution have come to learn about blackness.
The class, taught by a male seeking to make the black plight approachable to non-blacks, a male who gloated of the authority entrusted to him by a black publication supposedly created to centralize black studies, was a figment of the very institution that enslaved abducted Africans centuries ago. The class forced me to reevaluate what were intentions to join the institution to intentions to eschew the institutionalization of the black scholar. Though redirecting my focus, this class proved most resonant in illustrating the various ways whites and non-blacks seek to mimic black ability to create color. Notably, black studies as a discipline not a lifestyle is also a means for the non-black to create color.
In editing black-authored work about the black experience, in selecting what non-black authored texts to illustrate the black plight, the class was a violent demonstration veiled by a smiling instructor in a position enabled by the racism he pretended to be so vehemently against. The biggest testament to his impure intentions came in the professor’s persistent denouncement of the “back to Africa” movement-his consistent articulation of romanticizing Africa as a “counterproductive” move. His deliberate wording mirrors that of countless others who precede him and his attempt to pollute blackness in an increased proximity granted by his “teaching” of black studies. In derailing black bodies from the continent of color, the non-black, innately inferior in their inability to create color, consummates his or her journey to color in steering the hued away from the source of their collective power.
In sum, this year as thoroughly illustrated, in popular culture and in so-called professional arenas, the power of a collective consciousness and the understated power in color. This year exposed blacks as having what the world seeks on sunny days, in war, in continued rape of our mother continent, and the black female body. This year in all its violent attempts to strip the black collective of esteem, inadvertently proves reason to never forget the power and the privilege of being born black.
In closing, I want to acknowledge and thank anyone who has read anything on this site, anyone who has commented, anyone who has subscribed, and even those who have sought to disrupt the stride toward consciousness, thank you for giving me a reason to write- and a reason to life.
Thank you, my conscious collective, for affording me a platform to cast a collaborative contribution to our collective. For sharing the ups, downs, and frustrations of what it means to be black in a global paradigm of white dominance. But most of all, thank you for bearing a testament to the beauty, intelligence, and dedication of the black race.
To the ancestors and elders who inspire this blog, from Margaret Garner to Erica Garner– From Nat Turner to Dick Gregory–your spirits are ever-present and ever-resonant.
Cheers to many more years of blackness, beauty, and greatness.
May we all find happiness in continuing to live through purpose.
Black Power ❤