Monday, July 9, 2007

What is Blackness?

What Is Blackness?

I don't know the answer, really, but I feel like the question comes up all the time. On occasion, it's asked explicitly, but other times, it's a mere implication, something that has to be read between the lines in a speech or a written piece or a simple comment during a casual discussion. Sometimes, this abstract concept of blackness is threatened by hints of rigidity. In order to be black, you must be X, say Y, and look like Z. Other times, the concept becomes so abstract that we lose focus, unsure of what to call the "black community" because we're still trying to define "black." Is it a universal feeling? Appearance? History? Is a shared past of oppression or a bond over a better future? Is it tight curls and locks or rust-tinted relaxed roots? Is it a skin tone or a style of dress? Do we learn it in schools? From television? From politicians? From the press?

For this issue, I wonder if the question might be the answer. Could it be that the pause that follows once it's asked properly addresses the magnitude of how we identify?

I am leaving this post open for that reason. I'd like to hear from you. For you, as readers, what is blackness?


jason said...

What is blackness?

Everything and anything you can possibly think of.That's my definition.I came to that conclusion because no matter how hard I tried, I could never come up a clear cut definition of blackness(is it a color, an American thing, etc) No matter if it's language style, art, music, etc,etc.

T.L. Corners said...

Alright, I just had a spontaneous thought. You know how in the dictionary, there's more than one definition next to a single word? Well, that's what blackness has become.

And you know how in the Greek language love has four separate definitions? Well, for the purposes of this post, that's what blackness will have to become.

Blackness has gotten to the point where it now has to be broken down into sub-blacknesses. Sounds silly you say? Well, I say it's silly stuffing all of these blacknesses under the same roof and saying its all the same thing.

I mean, do you love a person the same way you love you favorite food? I doubt it (unless you're REAL greedy). But we've come to understand that there's different KINDS of love when we use this word. In that same way, there's different KINDS of blacknesses.

There's genetic blackness. There's physical blackness. There's social blackness. There's cultural blackness. There's stereotypical blackness. And a whole litany of others. And even all of these probably need to be broken down into even SMALLER sub-blacknesses.

But, of course, all of this was just a spontaneous thought and spontaneous thoughts can sometimes sound like madness and usually ARE. But either way, you asked for my opinion and that's what you get. :P (I'm sticking my tongue out at you, by the way).

Wendi Muse said...

Latoya Peterson's (of racialicious) answer can be found here: A Quick Reflection On Being Black

enjoy :-)

Wendi Muse said...

I would like to thank to those of you who added your thoughts on blackness. It's a question that I think is important for us to consider on a daily basis as we play a large role in how we are viewed by the world around us. As we work to define ourselves on an individual basis, let us not forget that, though we are part of a community under constant surveillance and scrutiny, being ourselves should be our first goal.

Henri Marcelo said...

To me, blackness is the experience of identifying yourself with things that are "black"

adopting distinct tastes in music, food, clothes, speech etc... this is prevalent in ANY culture or race.

-ness is a suffix meaning: State; quality; condition; degree

black is the prefix. i agree with t.l. corners, there can be different meanings to the word black, from genetic, physical, social, cultural to stereotypical and so on..

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