I’ll be honest with you, I never intended to author a post on Cardi B. The post reflects an aspiring writing seizing an opportunity to practice the skill to which she has dedicated my life.
Before I continue, I want to state that I do not regret anything that I posted. I do however regret the aftermath of my articulation—namely bringing the disingenuous and intellectually impenetrable to a blog designed to expose the labyrinth of a global racial paradigm.
Soaring Stats: A Gift and a Curse
Saturday marked the most readers my blog has ever seen. Three and a half years ago when I started this blog, this news would have been great. The traffic however, was not those seeking a collective consciousness, but those who maintain a proximity to blackness but seek to centralize what they compartmentalize as their faction, in discussions of blackness.
Specifically, this increased traffic was solely credited to Cardi B, and those solely interested in engaging blackness from an Afro-Latin/Latinx perspective. So while the majority of the hate-spewed comments accuse me of being ethnocentric, the argumentative interest prompted by my Cardi B. post was in fact fomented by ethnocentricity.
To those who counter my assertions, I ask you—where was the influx of “Afro-Latin”* commentary on my post remembering Recy Taylor—the black woman gang-raped by white men in 1944? Where were you a last week when Erica Garner passed? And where are you yesterday when as the black community honored black author Zora Neale Hurston on what would have been her birthday?
I want to point out that all of the previously mentioned names are those of black females born in America, just like Cardi B. But neither of my articles speaking of those bearing the same blackness my skeptics claim to believe in, garnered any traction from the Latinx community.
Where was your interest in blackness when not anchored in the location of your drop off?
The answer is simple— basking in the ethnic deflection created by the sorcerers of white supremacy, claiming the many labels, like Puerto Rican and Dominican, created by the white man to diversify how they call us all n*ggers.
I would have welcomed a proposal to partner with a diasporic sibling to widen my pan-Africanist scope. I would have welcomed a critique demanding I acknoweldge the diasporic black female form like the late Isabel la negra—but this is not the critique.
No, the overwhelming amount of insults, accusations of ignorance, and declarations of my misunderstandings of colonialism, reflect the colonized minds of those who place nationality before race, and attack truth to maintain the fallacy necessary to eschew looking the true villain in the eye.
Most of the comments on my piece on Cardi B, are from those who did not bother to read
the article. The article specifically acknowledges diasporic Africans as descendants of the same black bodies abducted from the shores of Africa. But rather than take the article for what it actually said, many approached the piece with their own insecurities regarding all that they’ve gained from blacks whom did not choose their placement in America.
Yet despite my descendance from the same abducted black bodies that birthed by brethren outside the U.S., I have been credited for stealing my own ancestors, for doing the white man’s work of dividing the most beautiful and resilient people offspring of Africa.
Namely, what makes these comments problematic is the personalizing of a collective argument, by attacking what my skeptics perceived as a representation of the haughty “African-American,” while the true villains escape these scathing replies and instead maintain their esteemed place in the bloodline, the employment, and bed, of my mythic adversaries. These verbally violent acts– socially reproduced almost two-hundred times in the last seventy-two hours– not only depict misdirected anger, but reflect the type of cowardice that brings our shared oppressors to tears of joy.
Africa, A Tree with Many Branches
Africa is the common branch to all her lost children, but to act as though some of her children have not forgotten the black foremothers and forefathers of their past, is sheer denial of the part many of Africa’s children play in the wrath of white supremacy. While certainly not limited to Africans outside the U.S., the migrant black is often given an easy out by the American white supremacists who wish to discount the horror inflicted onto blacks in the “land of the brave and home of the free.”
Now, my blog does not discount that that there are diasporic Africans, like the late and prolific Arthur Schomburg and Dr. Ben who made incomparable contributions to blackness. Though also born in Bronx like Cardi B, Dr. Ben is absent from ALL criticisms of my diasporic siblings, which reflect the limited and prejudiced scope of my skeptics. Dr. Ben reflects those who placed nationality second to their African origins– those throughout the diaspora that welcome their separated siblings with open arms, and dedicate their life to the whole of blackness. But in the same breath that I remember and honor the late Dr. Ben, I would be remiss to acknowledge the overwhelming majority that do not mirror his actions or ideology.
This assertion does not mean that those with African ancestry must identify as black–there is no pressure to associate with blackness. The conscious objective is not to “convince” folk that they are black, but embracing those who do.
Tell em’ why they mad son’
Yet, the issue with the post was not so much my analysis of Cardi, but that me, a person of the black collective not only understands the unmatched contribution of blacks to the globe, but possesses the confidence to shout it from the mountaintops.
I, like countless other blacks who stand up despite the pervasive expectation that blacks must lie down and take the exploitation and appropriation violently handed to them by those inside and outside the black diaspora, endure the labels of “bitter” and “angry.” Labels that function to cloud black confidence with the same negativity–namely bitterness, anger, and hate– that foments our continued disenfranchisement.
The animosity that accompanied this post, mirrors the animosity endured by the outspoken black deemed bitter, angry, and difficult by whites threatened by blacks who articulate an incisive understanding of what has been designed to destroy them.
Am I Black Enough to Be Black Person?
The question is not and never has been whether an individual is “black enough,” but how present blackness is in the life and identity of a person who considers themselves black. Light skin does not discount one’s blackness, as Prince, Michael Jackson, and Beyonce, while flawed, have never stated that they are not black. Rihanna, though a black woman, has never identified as a black woman—Amber Rose, though birthed from a black woman discounts her blackness—though both reap the benefits and support from black people and their proximity to blackness, and also function to illustrate the pervasive ideology that the black female form oozes an animistic sexuality.
Orange is the New Black actress to Dascha Polanco, on the other hand, an African of Dominican displacement, has openly proclaimed herself as a black woman, although she plays a Puerto Rican woman on the series. Thus, the issue is not whether you are of African ancestry, but whether you function as a black person. Cardi B, and Bruno Mars have African ancestry, but do not function as black people. Having black blood does not make you black, its about owning your blackness and not treating blackness as a fair-weather friend. It’s about enduring the good, bad, and ugly of the black experience.
It’s about understanding the road you walk on as paved in the blood and bones of your brethren. It’s about joining forces with your black brethren, about aiding in the production of black commerce, be it economical or intellectual—not using black people, black support, or black currency as a key to enter the master’s house.
Rather than accuse me of dividing the black collective, I encourage those who identify as Afro-Latino, or Latinx to consider the ways they function to divide the collective. Particularly, do you check “black” or “hispanic”? “Hispanic,” “Latin,” etc all function similar to terms “mixed” and “biracial.” They are mythic labels implemented to divide the black collective. Thus, by calling yourself any of these names, an individual becomes a facet of a collective war waged against black people.
Namely, the systemic distinction between “black” and “hispanic” is a deliberate act implemented by those who observe a place at the top of the hierarchical structure to divide the black collective with an implication that black and hispanic/latino are mutually exclusive. So rather than ask me whether your displacement in the diaspora or bilinguality qualifies you as black, ask yourself whether you are black enough to check black on paper?
They Worked Hard for All You Have
As seen in countless countries populated with Africans displaced in the transatlantic slave trade like Brazil and Haiti, blacks displaced in the United States sacrificed for centuries to engender modern (temperate) liberties. Our efforts, while birthing many feats, have largely knocked down the door for many throughout the diaspora who voluntarily flee to the US to get places that that young boy or girl in the projects will never obtain an opportunity to visit even on a school trip. Contrary to popular belief, this young boy or girl that does not get a chance to seize his or her full potential does not reflect lack of ambition or motiviation. This illustrates how white supremacists have succeeded in dividing and conquering the black collective, how the white supremacist society has succeeded in using our own siblings to systemically disenfranchise their own people.
(If you read this reference in the comments under my original Cardi B. post, I apologize for my redundancy.)
In her autobiography, Assata Shakur delineates the divide and conquer technique in an anecdote from her childhood. She recalls a summer trip to an amusement park where she and her family were initially refused because of the color of her skin. Once her mother begins to speak Spanish, they gain access to the park. Shakur concludes the anecdote with the following reflection:
” Anybody, no matter who they were, could come right off the boat and get more rights and respect than Amerikan-born blacks” (Shakur 28).
Were, Assata and her family any less black then when they first tried to gain entry?
But at that moment, their blackness took a backseat to the mechanism, or in this case language, manipulated to grant them a cruel duality, where their blackness birthed their exclusion, but the foreign nature of their blackness garnered their temperate inclusion. Thus, they opted out of blackness in order to opt into a white space.
To celebrate Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Jennifer Lopez, and others employed in the same malevolent intentions to maintain the stagnancy of the African displaced in North American as occupying the base of American society, is to wave and smile at those granted entry to a space you were “too black” to attend.
Yes, I am saying that there are plenty of children lacking Bruno Mars, and Cardi’s racial “choice” that exceed their talent, but will never get the chance because they are “too black” to be anything but a rapper, or a “star” on Love and Hip Hop.
To this I would aptly engage criticisms of those who perform a similar deed in vacationing and staying at resorts where their brethren are suffering. To vacation at resorts when our diasporic brethren are rendered invisible by the culturally unenlightened and those indulging in a selective amnesia, who eat shrimp cocktail where diasporic Africans barely have enough to eat, is to also occupy a space established on the exclusion of your kinfolk.
But this is not the criticism.
The criticism is my failure to celebrate those who have the ability to choose whether they function as black. As a black person not subject to this choice, it is essential to my individual and collective survival to note that having black ancestry or a black ancestor does not make you black. People like Cardi B, Bruno Mars, Zoe Saldana, Christina Milian, etc,. have an option whether or not to identify with their black forefathers and foremothers in a way that author Wallace Thurman, singer Sam Cooke, and activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not.
This criticism, in its abundance and fiery presence under my initial Cardi B, post, proves an unintentional declaration of the low regard to which blacks displaced in North America are held. We are expected to smile in the face of a division that discounts our humanity to not seem divisive to those who imbue temperate benefits in the collective bludgeoning of black people from the white strategy of divide and conquer.
Conclusion: What Happened When I “came for” Cardi B.
So what happens when you “come for” Cardi B?
You are accused of lacking blackness in a failure to comply to the stereotypical traits expected of black people. It means being accused of dividing a people, while simultaneously subject to the division imbued in an accusation that me, a bearer of the black female form, “jumped Spanish girls in high school because they had better hair than me.” (actual quote)
I want to specify that I never “came for” Cardi B., I simply articulated a stance against cultural exploitation and appropriation encouraged and featured on the white media. I simply stood up for my people and my culture, and the aftermath illustrated diasporic blackness with regards to the black displaced in North America, as more abjected and ostracized than any article I could ever write.
So what happens, when you come for Cardi B?
White people everywhere snicker while the African displaced in Latin America and the Caribbean sulk in the exposition of the envy they hold for those they seek to emulate, but remain reluctant to appreciate and truly identify as.
This envy solely comes from those who pledge an allegiance to an African identity they do not truly feel, who separate rather than sync themselves with their displaced sibling separated on the ship that did not not sever our bloodline, but parted our bodies.
Bodies that in some way, shape, or form face the option (at varying degrees) to “opt” out of blackness, to become a weapon used against those born from the same continental womb, be it via skin color, hair texture, education, tax bracket, ethnicity, etc.
All the conscious community asks is a non-fickle choice to embrace or ignore blackness in part and whole, and to refute any and all options to work against your people.
While the systemic crippling of black folk throughout the diaspora, make it nearly impossible for the average black person, despite their placement in the diaspora, to travel or relocate from one drop-off to the next, in enjoying the richness of a diasporic culture, we, as Africans, must remain mindful of how our bodies can easily transition from familial to fatal.
In journeying to the places where our abducted brethren created culture out of kidnapping (in travel or migrancy), our goals should never be to get in with the master, but to get in with our people.
Thus, my issue with Cardi B, Bruno Mars and other diasporic Africans turned “hispanic” “Afro-Latino” or “American success story,” is not so much their selective blackness (for those who argue that they function as black at all), but that their goal is not to get in with black people, but to get in the black mind and purse. To get into spaces created by those raped to birth the privilege they presently observe.
Nevertheless, there is no shame in refusing to claim those who do not claim you, but there is great shame and entitlement exhibited by those who perceive blacks with the same disdain as our colorless counterparts yet demand support from those they see as subjugates.
So what happened when a being of black female form “came for” Cardi B?
She was reminded that all desire central placement in blackness, but few actually desire blackness.
*Members of the black collective need not occupy their time or thoughts with those who do not claim them, or only claim black to attain access to some benefit. Which is why I choose to end my post here :-).
Black Power, and all Power to the People Who Truly Identify as Black.
*The author places “Afro-Latino” in quotations as she includes all factions of diaspora in her use of the term “black” unless indicated otherwise.