It happened for the first time when I was seventeen.
I was interning for a local politician in Fresh Meadows, Queens. The environment was a predominately white office perched in an affluent neighborhood. My parents were over-protective and would not let me go onto the street and hand out literature, so most of my time was spent handling office duties—and as I would learn, engaging office politics.
One day while inserting data, a young white man rehashed an event that happened at Howard Beach. Rather than give an overview of the event, he decided to recite a racially charged graffiti act verbatim. The epithet read “f*ck all you n*ggers.” After reciting these words, he looked straight into my face, seemingly searching for something that I refused to acknowledge by returning his piercing gaze.
A similar event would occur years later in an interaction with a racial psychopath I mistook for a friend. Similar to my first experience, my pseudo friend expressed outrage in the use of a racial epithet, yet took it upon herself to repeat her uncle’s use of the word n*gger. Like the previous incident, she too stared in my face as she uttered the term, a gaze I saw in my peripheral because I had refused her longing gaze. This same friend would go on to show me her white boyfriend dressed in blackface for Halloween. We have since lost touch, her face dissipated into a grudging appreciation for presenting a necessary evil to awaken my consciousness.
These particular incidents illustrate the antiracist efforts implemented by whites uncomfortable with black presence, working to transfer their discomfort onto the oppressed black body. This transfer is never painless. Rather it reflects the evil deemed necessary to maintain a fictive whiteness. The black body has historically been used a canvass for western anxiety, making the n word a common painting drawn on the black body to appease the demands of a white supremacist hierarchy.
Despite having the opposite effect, these incidents overtly functioned to distance the individual white body from their racist collective– an impossible, and disingenuous feat given the racial climate that defines America. It is this racial climate that predisposes any antiracist effort to inevitably help not hinder white supremacy.
Flash forward to this past semester. The setting is a writing course at a private university in New York City. To introduce a unit on critical queries I play Jadakiss’s “Why?” I am sure to play the clean version because as a black female on a journey to conscious, I have no place for expletives in my life let alone my classroom. Yet despite my efforts, when prompted to respond to a question in the song, a white female student stated “Why N*ggas can’t get no job?” despite the version played in class that stated “Why brothers can’t get no job?”
To which I responded “what did you say?”
She then proceeded to repeat the sentence and epithet. Every student in the class looked down. But, the worst is yet to come. When confronted about her word use she became combative and argumentative. This is the issue with the n word.
Is it an issue that white people use the n word? Yes. But this is not racism. It seems an essential component of oppression to preoccupy the oppressed with branches of racism and not the roots. Take for example the often unpleasant white and foreign businessmen that dominate black communities throughout America. Is it a problem that they are often unpleasant? Yes. Is this racist? No.
It is racist that the white and non-black foreigner monopolizes black economy—taking our money out of our communities. It is racist that the American system is designed to prevent black business ownership. Racism is the systemic action and language seen in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. It is the societal hierarchy white people observe in every aspect of western culture. Using the n word is yet another means for white people to assume their acquired hierarchy over black bodies. This student used the n word in the classroom of a black female instructor and fought for the right to use a racially offensive term–that’s racism. Bill Maher illustrated a similar dynamic in his use of the n-word Friday evening.
Bill Maher welcomed guest Senator Ben Sasse on his HBO show “Real Time” in which the pair joked about the fields of Nebraska. When invited to “work the fields” by Sasse, Maher responded “I’m a house n*gger” to a reserved laughter from his audience, to which he expressed his gratitude.
Was Maher wrong for using the n word? Yes. But this was far from the first racist comment Maher has made and won’t be the last. It seems his sexual fetish for black Women serves as a means to validate his racial insensitivity to those foolish enough to believe that having sex with blacks makes forgives their racist tendencies. The very house slaves that he references were both products and victims of the white slave masters, and it is this ignored context that composes the core issue here.
The historical trajectory of black bodies in this country is not funny. The means for initial western wealth, who received cyclical disenfranchisement in exchange for centuries of labor, is hardly a laughing matter, at least for those robbed. In using the n word, the white person induces a collective amnesia that when retrieved portrays the retriever as “living in the past” or “playing the race card.”
Blacks have yet to receive reparations or even inclusion into canonical history for providing the greatest sacrifice for this country, so it seems a fractional effort for the western world to retire an epithet used to verbally subjugate the black body.
So why can’t the word be laid to rest?
The answer is simple, it bears too much power.
Many will say that “n*gger” is “just a word” and blacks put “too much emphasis” on this word. But it was never blacks who put too much emphasis on a term foreign to their indigenous tongue. This was never our word, rather the word is conjured from white creation solely to conceptualize black denigration. Yes, it’s an issue that blacks use the word. But until the black collective maintains power in economics, media, employment and housing , they lack the ability to be racist. Furthermore, it is not the black collective who have issues getting over themselves, it is the white collective that expresses difficulty “getting over” their fictive placement on a stolen land.
The abducted African remains the foundation for western wealth, and their significance much like the emaciated and overworked bodies have dissolved into the stolen American soil. Yet instead of sprouting seeds of progress, this soil breeds a continued oppression of black bodies. This oppression is perhaps most evident in the western words implication that colloquial or comedic use of the term “n*gger” symbolizes racial progress.
Thus, in waiting for the term’s retirement, the black collective anticipates the impossible–for the white world to take a small step to relinquish their systemic power. The term was implemented as a means to maintain a position above the black body, and whites continue to use the term publicly for the same reasons. Maher, could have easily, and I’m sure he and the majority of whites do, used the n word off camera. The decision to do so publicly was because he could. Similarly, in my provided examples, each white individual used this racial epithet in a public place, drunk off a systemic white power that conceives every public space as subject to white domination.
The sadistic white mind— historically inebriated off power—assumes the height of racial psychopathy in staring into the black collective and calling them what every stolen opportunity, every stolen dollar, and every drowned, whipped, lynched, burned and raped ancestor symbolizes in past and present America.
Interestingly, this gaze into the black eye, is a central component of my two earlier examples. Notably, both acts seemed centered on not just saying the word to a black person, but staring them in the eye as they did so. I align said behavior with the traditional racial psychopath who looked blacks in the eye as they raped them, who looked as black flesh was chewed by dogs, who watched the life leave a black body during public lynchings. Namely, my mind thinks of the late Claude Neal and the white eyes that watched his flesh be torn from his body and jammed down his throat in a torture murder that lasted several hours. Let us not forget the white gazes that purchased the mutilated portraits of black bodies, and those who purchased black limbs ripped from their bodies in mob attacks.
White desire to induce and see pain illustrates white assemblage as contingent on black dismemberment—substantiating the white collective as what Dr. Bobby Wright labeled a racial psychopath who performs evil with no conscious.
Maher does a similar act in staring down the contemporary pain of the black collective, and mocking the very institution that proved a platform for his lucrative whiteness and conventional success. His ability to stare into the collective gaze of the black collective and use a term that jests the narrative of the abducted African violates the black body in the same manner as a lynching or rape.
Using the n-word is a socially accepted means to verbally assault the black body. The word does not function with the simplicity of an article, or the certainty of a noun. For the “n*gger” is no person, place or thing, it is an action. In a 2007 essay for The Atlantic entitle N*ggerization, Cornel West defines “n*ggerization” as the following:
N*ggerization is neither simply the dishonoring and devaluing of black people nor solely the economic exploitation and political disenfranchisement of them. It is also the wholesale attempt to impede democratization—to turn potential citizens into intimidated, fearful, and helpless subjects.
To use the word “nIgger” is an attempt to “n*ggerize,” to subject the black body to a verbal bludgeoning that ties the contemporary black body to a tree beside the ghosts of their ancestors, bare-backed and anticipating the physical wrath of white supremacy designed to force the black mind to mentally acquiesce to inferiority.
Therefore, it goes without saying that Maher’s apology is as insufficient as it is insincere. It also goes without saying that Maher should lose his job. Although it is doubtful that he was every deserving of such visibility anyhow. Nevertheless, whether fired or not, Maher’s fate will not stop racism. Who knows, Maher may have a clause in his contract that promises a huge payout if fired. He is also at the end of his career, and in addition to being a white man in America, it is guaranteed that Maher will not suffer, because earth is not hell for whites. Thus, it is not his job that the conscious community desires Maher to lose, it is his privilege.
Will the heat of hell change the setting? No, just as firing Maher will not end black suffering. If Maher does get fired the firing will function to imply that the world has “come a long way,” despite occurring in a world where Bill O’Reilly can get fired for “sexual misconduct” but cops are not fired for murdering black men, women or children.
It will also serve as the foregrounds for firing blacks who saying things like “white people,” “pass the crackers” or even “white privilege.” As an oppressed group, we must be sure not to misconstrue what appears to be an opportunity for progress for what it is—an opportunity. Nothing in America has been said or done for the sole purpose of helping blacks, and America proceeds cyclically not linear.
Welfare, affirmative action, diversity initiatives, financial aid, etc all function to aid whites, despite seeming to provide opportunities to the disenfranchised. Moreover, in accordance with the historical trajectory of a country established on the spilled blood of those labeled “other,” the white world will find a way to turn n-word, a source of collective black pain, into a gain for whites.
Article by CC Saunders
Most people think that wakefulness and consciousness are synonyms. That is to say, we think that to be awake, is also to be conscious. While it is most common for consciousness and wakefulness to occur simultaneously, in cognitive science however, these two terms have important distinctive definitions.
Consciousness is the state of being awake and aware, able to perceive, receive, and process stimuli and information from one’s environment. When you go to sleep, this is an altered state of consciousness, with limited, to no ability, to perceive, receive, and process stimuli and information from one’s environment. When Neuroscientists study the EEG brain waves of a sleeping person, they find that during a night’s sleep, a portion of the time is spent in the waking state, even though the person is not fully conscious. Parasomnia disorders such as “sleep walking” or “sleep talking” are examples of instances where a person is in a waking state, but not fully conscious. Daydreaming is another example of a mental state where a person is awake, but not conscious of their immediate surroundings. Conversely, Sleep paralysis is a condition where the mind is awake and conscious, but the body is not awake and unable to become active. What we can take away from all this is that
1. Consciousness and wakefulness commonly occur seemingly simultaneously
2. Consciousness also requires one to be awake
3. It is possible to be awake but not conscious
4. It is possible to be conscious and mentally awake but not physically awake and active
The preceding deliberation served as a primer for our discussion on the terms “Woke” vs “Conscious” as it relates to African American English Vernacular.
The term “Consciousness” in the Black community has a long and storied history throughout Africa and the African diaspora, stemming back to the early 1900s, and has to do with an awareness of one’s black identity, and nonconformity to mainstream social, political, economic, religious, and spiritual constructs. The UNIA, Moorish Science Temple, Nation of Islam, 5 Percenters, Hebrew Israelites, Ausar Auset Society, Black Panther Party, SCLC, and BLM, are all examples of black conscious movements in America.
The term, “Woke,” is an idiom that has surfaced in recent years, essentially referring to the same concepts, precepts, and principles as “conscious”, but with more of a focus on social, political, and economic awareness. In recent years, the term “conscious” has become associated more with a focus on historical, cultural, religious and spiritual awareness. The Activism of someone “Woke,” tends to be of a social, political, and economic nature, whereas, the activism of someone “Conscious,” tends to be of a historical, cultural, religious or spiritual nature. If we were to retrospectively apply the new definitions and connotations that the terms “Woke” and “Conscious” have taken on in recent years, to the aforementioned groups, then we could classify the UNIA, Black Panther Party, SCLC, and BLM as “Woke,” and the Nation of Islam, 5 Percenters, Hebrew Israelites, and Ausar Auset Society as “conscious”.
After a multitude of scandals erupting in the Black Conscious Community in recent years, and many Black people feeling critical of, or unserved, underserved, or unrepresented by the modern Black Conscious Community, in some regard, “Woke,” seems like a re-branding of “Conscious”. In 2017, the difference in the socio-economic disposition of Black People willing to label themselves as “Woke” versus “Conscious” can also be observed.
But if “Woke” has become used to refer to more social, political, and economic awareness, and “Conscious” has become used to refer to more historical, cultural, religious and spiritual awareness, then just like in cognitive science, it is most common to be simultaneously “woke” and “conscious”, that is to say, having simultaneous affiliation and interest in organizations concerned with both social, political, and economic issues as well as historical, cultural, religious and spiritual issues.
Also, just like the concept of Sleep walking and Sleep Talking in cognitive science, it is possible to be “Woke” but not “Conscious”, that is to say, have affiliation with, and interest in, organizations primarily concerned with social, political, and economic issues, and having no affiliation with, or interest in, organizations concerned with historical, cultural, religious and spiritual issues. These individuals are aware of the social injustices in the world, but have no knowledge of their historical past or traditional systems of spirituality.
And lastly, just like the concept of Sleep Paralysis in Cognitive Science, it is possible to be “Conscious” but not totally “woke”, that is to say, having interest in historical, cultural, religious, and spiritual issues, and having no interest in social, political, and economic issues. These individuals are fully aware of their historical past, have “knowledge of self”, and practice some form of traditional spirituality, but have no concern or activism in regards to the social, political, or economic injustices in the world.
Who knows what new terms will emerge in future vernacular, or what new areas of awareness may come to the forefront. In the foreseeable future, “Scientific Awareness” may become a movement of its own. Essentially, “Woke” and “Conscious” are mental states, and the ultimate goal is to become Active, with an expression of one’s awareness demonstrated through practical application.
Article by African Creation Energy
I remember when I saw this cover(above) of Ebony magazine back in 2008. It was when Barack Obama was running for President. I remember hearing people say Obama looked so cool in his sunglasses. And I noticed that over the past eight years that there were more biracial men in the media. There has always been biracial men in the spotlight. But there seems to be more right now. I have also seen many more biracial women in the media over the last few years. I will cover biracial women in part three. That is a an even bigger issue in my opinion. But I did want to cover some of the biracial men that seemed to be getting a lot more press in recent years. And what does it mean for black men? Are they the new and improved black men? Or do they represent a “new white man’? I think Obama helped to bring interracial unions and biracial people more acceptance in American culture. And worldwide for that matter. I have seen more biracial men in sports,television and films.
Back in the early 90’s Lenny Kravitz was one of the biggest rock stars. His mother is black,father is Jewish.
Actor Vin Diesel is biracial as well. Although he mostly plays racially ambiguous roles. He never really plays a “black” man though.
Actor Shemar Moore has become a sex symbol among many black women. The picture(above) is of him and his white mother. He first gained fame on the soap opera The Young and The Restless. I remember ten years ago he was seen at a gay beach in Hawaii. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about his sexuality.
This is biracial actor Boris Kodjoe. His mother is a German white woman. I know many black women who have told me is their ideal man. Although this is not a good picture. It leaves him looking very “suspect”.
Actor Dwayne Johnson has become a huge star over the last eight years. He first became famous as a WWE wrestler known as The Rock. And has become a sex symbol in his transition from wrestler to actor. Although he is not a mulatto since he has a black father and Samoan mother. Much like actor Vin Diesel he plays racially ambiguous roles. And is rarely paired with black women in films. But he still remains popular among many black women.
Biracial actor Jesse Williams caused quite a stir last year at the BET Awards. The Grey’s Anatomy star gave a passionate speech about police brutality last year. And many black people quickly gave the mixed race man his “black card”.
The picture(above) is of Trevor Noah. The comedian/actor is the host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central. he is pictured with his girlfriend,model Jordyn Taylor. She is racially mixed so I guess the paring his fitting. Noah is a media darling because of his left-leaning liberal views. Although I don’t find him that funny.
This is actor Jussie Smollett. Most people know him from the hit drama Empire. He plays a homosexual on the show. Which is fitting since he’s a homosexual in real life as well. He’s pictured her with his sister actress Jurnee. They have a black mother and white father. This picture is quite interesting. What’s with the “black power” fist? What message are they sending? Is that you can be conscious,biracial,pro-black and gay all at the same time? Good lord….what world am I living in? God help us.
Of course we can’t discuss biracial people without mentioning Canadian rapper Drake. Drake has become one of rap music’s biggest stars in the last eight years or so. He started as a child actor and late did underground mixtapes as a rapper. His mother(pictured above) is Jewish and his father is black. I can’t help but to think that having those Jewish connections helped him in the industry. Also according to Halakha(Jewish law) a Jew must be born to a Jewish mother. Accepting the principles and practices of Judaism doesn’t make a person a Jew. So even with a black father technically…. Drake is a Jew.
Rapper J. Cole(with mother) has seen his popularity rise in recent years. He has gotten praise from many rap fans because of his socially conscious lyrics.
The picture(above) is of r&b/pop singer Miguel and his Mexican father. Miguel became popular when his debut cd came out in 2010. His music style is a mix of funk,r&b and elements of rock. Many music critics have compared him to the late pop icon Prince.
Retired baseball player Derek Jeter was one of the most well know athletes while playing for the New York Yankees. Here is Jeter pictured with his parents and sister Sharlee.
NBA veteran Tony Parker has played for the San Antonio Spurs for over fifteen years. And he has won four NBA championships. He has a black father and white mother. He has been one of the most well known biracial athletes over the last ten years.
Of course what list would be complete with biracial NFL star Colin Kaepernick. I recently heard that he will now stand for the pledge of allegiance. Why the change of heart? I guess all the hype is over now. It helped to cause some more racial tension and get people talking. But I guess that time has passed…so it’s back to football! That is if any team picks him up.
This is racecar driver Lewis Hamilton pictured with his white mother. He was born and raised in the United Kingdom. His first racecar win was the Canadian Grand prix in 2007. His popularity has really grown over the last ten years.
Chicago Bulls basketball player Joakim Noah has a white mother and black father. He’s very popular with the Chicago fans. This pic(above) he is with his mother and sister Yelena.
This picture(above) is of NBA players Aaron Gordon and Zach Lavine. Gordon plays for the Orlando Magic and Lavine plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Last year during the 2016 NBA All Star weekend these two were the finalists in the Slam Dunk contest. It was close but Lavine ending up winning the contest. I just thought it was interesting that the last two finalists were both biracial men. I thought it was odd. Are they going to be the face of the NBA? Much like Drake is the face of rap music? Or how Obama was the face of the nation. Hmmmm…something to think about.
NBA star Matt Barnes(with mother) has always been a headache for the NBA. He has a really bad temper and needs to seek anger management. He has played for the LA Clippers,New York Knicks,Orlando Magic,LA Lakers and Golden State Warriors. He gets moved around a lot because of his temper tantrums and bad attitude.
The black man in the pic(above) is Lavar Ball. Ball is a retired football player. He was a practice squad member for the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers. He and his white wife Tina have three sons,Lonzo,LiAngelo and LaMelo. They have become a huge media sensation in the basketball world. They have all appeared on ESPN. They all played for Chino Hills high school. The oldest son Lonzo played one year at UCLA. He is already said he is entering the NBA draft. He has groomed his mulatto sons from birth to be basketball players.
NFL rookie Dak Prescott(with mother) has made quite an impression lately. The Dallas Cowboys quarterback seems to be fitting in well as the new face of the team. I know there are a lot racist rednecks in Dallas. I know because I’ve been to Texas before. But I’m sure they’ll accept him with open arms. Just as long as their biracial quarterback is winning games for them.
NBA star Blake Griffin(with father and mother) has been a big asset for the Los Angeles Clippers. He has been playing with the Clippers since 2009. His skills have improved over the last few years. I remember when he was in the Slam Dunk contest back in 2011. I saw some video of the dunk contest on YouTube. There were some white guys making comments on the video. Some were saying that Griffin should be considered a white man. I guess they wanted to see a non-black person win so bad they were willing to accept a biracial man as white. But this got me thinking. Do they want biracial men to be the “new blacks”? Do they want to replace African men with biracial men? Is it easier for whites to accept those that have a white parent? After all,biracials are in closer proximity to whiteness than someone with two black parents. I personally believe this is psychological warfare. And many of us don’t understand this tactic very much. There are many ways to attack a person. It doesn’t always have to be physical. Attacking a persons mind can be just as effective. Psychological warfare is a form of propaganda or a threat. It’s a psychological technique to mislead,demoralize,intimidate or influence the thinking or the behavior of an enemy. This is what is being done to black people. This is all being done on purpose. The white/jewish controlled media is purposely putting more biracial men to the forefront. They are doing this to confuse the minds of black people. This all goes against the collective best interest of black people. It also promotes the idea that interracial sex is a good thing. They are giving us the false belief that being half-black is better than having two black parents. This is just another way to promote black inferiority and degrade black genetics. This all helps to reinforce the idea that being dark skinned and having African features is ugly and unwanted.
We better have a clear definition on who is black and who is NOT. Otherwise we’ll keep getting melanin recessive imposters like Shaun King(pic above). This white activist is going around telling people he’s a black man when he has already been exposed as a white man by his white mother and father. This is insulting to all black people. But this is what happens when you let everyone claim blackness. We got to put an end to this. This has really gotten out of hand. So what do you think? Am I on to something? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Who is black? What is an African? This is a question I have been thinking about the last few years. Mainly because I have seen many debates on YouTube,Twitter and Facebook on who is a black person. It’s a hot topic that just wont seem to go away. I think the fact that people are debating it must mean many of us are still very confused. Why is that? Why is the black collective so confused about our own identity? The video(above) is really good. I know for some it might seem offensive. But you can tell that the speaker has really analyzed this issue. It’s a very touchy subject that most black people want to run away from.
This picture(above) shows different African women around the world. And of course there are people of African descent in America,Canada and the United Kingdom. Some people say many of us are mixed raced people. Some say we come in different shades because of years of race mixing. I will address race mixing in part two of this series. I personally don’t think race mixing is good for the black collective. It seems to cause more confusion more than anything else. But I guess the real question is how is a black person defined? What do Africans look like? How are Africans classified?
Fellow blogger C.C. Saunders stated this about blackness:
“Blackness is not limited to a skin color, but it is a state of being, an incomparable experience prompted by skin color, facial features, body type and hair texture. Omitting any identifying attribute allots a significant privilege absent from the lifetime of any black person possessing these attributes in entirety. However, melanin, while a chief component of blackness, does not encompass the totality of blackness. To distinguish between black and melanated is essential to understanding blackness as a collective identity.”
Blogger Amos Magazine said this about African people:
“Prior to the enslavement of West and Central Africans, Africans had certain traits and certain biological markers that made them a separate distinct group. Africans prior to 1500 and prior to the infamous fictitious Willie Lynch Letter had traits. Africans prior to the invasion of Arabs, Berbers and other West Asian people had skin color from brown to dark brown. This is an African trait. Africans had one common hair texture. Yes, Europeans upon arriving in what today is called Rwanda did notice that many Africans were a lighter shade of Brown from other Africans. But they were not yellow or near white. They were simply a pecan brown color as compared to the dark chocolate color of the other group. They used these slight differences in order to pit one group against on another. Today, DNA* test (* because there are holes in this science) show that the Hutu and Tutsi were actually the same people and that Hutu and Tutsi were actually social status. Now Negros will use to in order to say mulattoes are Africans. ***(3star concepts mean this is something to pay special attention to) ***The Tutsi who were divided into people of a lighter hue of brown were not products of mixed raced sexual relationships. My opponents will purposely leave this out in order to compare a mulatto vs. an authentic African or an authentic disasporic Africans.”
Blogger Bhekizitha breaks it down from a biological standpoint:
“An African / Black person is clearly visually a “close” descendant of people from East Africa, a region comprised of countries now known as Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Their color variation ranges from bronze, dark reddish-brown, dark or nut brown, dark-chocolate color plus “peppercorn” hair.”
This video(above) is very interesting. I first saw this video about four years ago. It’s the author Supreme Understanding. He has authored books such as How to Hustle and Win,Knowledge of Self and Black God. I’ve read a few of his books. I must admit that he knows quite a bit about black history and African culture. But he’s not African…he’s an Indian man. Years ago I remember seeing him in a picture with his black wife. In this video he says that being black is color,culture and consciousness. So he’s saying it’s not just physical traits that make you black. So if a Mexican,Indian or Asian man listens to rap music,studies African culture and has a black wife…..that makes him black? So it’s just about having a black consciousness? This can create a problem in the long run.
This picture(above) is from Supreme Understanding’s website. It’s titled What is Black? Looking at the pictures you can see all these dark skinned people from India,China,Pacific Islands,Malaysia and Australia. But are these people really Africans? Or do they have racial admixture? Were the original inhabitants of Australia or India really Africans? And if so,what does it mean for black people today? I think black people really like to be all inclusive. We like hearing that our ancestors were all over the world and created civilizations. That’s very true to a large extent. And to many of us we have a dream of creating some type of racial utopia. A world in which all people who have some melanin are brothers and sisters. But this is not reality. There will always be racial and cultural divisions. Just because you have dark skinned people in India and Malaysia doesn’t mean they can relate to a black person in America. The culture of a dark skinned Aborigine in Australia is totally different than a black person living in Jamaica. I always promote black unity,black love and black power on this blog. But you can’t have any type of unity if you can’t even decide who is black and who is not black. How can you have any type of cohesiveness when there are no clear cut definitions on your identity? And this is why the video by Supreme is problematic. He believes that all “people of color” are fighting against a white power structure. Therefore we are all in this fight together. But my thinking is that why can’t we fight a racist society and still maintain our own unique racial identity. Why does everyone with a little bit of color have to be considered black? By making everyone black…no one is really black. Our unique blackness gets lost in the process. Chinese people don’t have this problem. They don’t accept just anyone who might have their physical traits. I’ve seen Hispanics with a yellowish skin tone but they are not seen as Chinese. I’ve seen people that were biracial(Black/Chinese) with slanted eyes. But just because they had slanted eyes,Chinese people still don’t see them as one of them. By doing this it helps them stay homogeneous. They are able to maintain their racial identity. And this is something black/African people must keep in mind when want to distinguish ourselves from other groups. By letting anyone claim “blackness” it devalues those that are black in the process.
Jordan Peele’s directorial debut Get Out proves a fascinating engagement with the racial truths of the contemporary world. The film centers on interracial couple Chris and Rose who are traveling to meet Rose’s parents in a New York City Suburb.
Prior to their visit, Chris asks Rose if she told her parents that he is black. Rose makes a mockery of this query, a query that encompasses the film’s many acts of foreshadow and dramatic irony. Get Out proceeds to illustrate that it is Chris’ blackness that makes him Rose’s prey. The couple’s visit to meet Rose’s parents proves a sick and calculated effort to abduct black bodies and re-appropriate them as a means to enhance the lives of a white counterpart. In short, the film’s resonance lies not in the images themselves but what lies beneath.
One of the most demonstrative illustrations in the film is its portrayal of the “white liberal.” Rose, Chris’s girlfriend not only dates a black man but defends him in the face of overt discrimination. Chris is racially profiled by a police officer on the way to meet Rose’s parents. The policeman asks Chris for his identification, to which they receive Rose’s wrath. After the incident, she states that she won’t let anyone “F%ck with her man.” But little does Chris know, Rose is merely protecting Chris the object and not Chris the person. This objectification becomes clear in the silent auction that takes place in Rose’s parent’s garden. What they disguise as “Bingo” is an auction where interested white buyers place bids for the black body Rose brings home. So questions like “Is it better?” referencing black male sexual performance, is the query of a prospective buyer desiring a worthy investment.
Rose portrays a physical embodiment to the phrase “every shut eye ain’t sleep and every goodbye ain’t gone.” An assumed ally can very well bear oppressive feelings towards a marginalized body. Assumed allies often veil self-interest in seemingly supportive gestures. Namely, Rose does not verbalize her prejudices yet is not any different or better than her parents or their “garden party” guests.
2. The Poisonous Apple
Get Out depicts Chris, a black man, as an Eve-like figure and Rose, a white woman, as the poisonous apple that exploits his vulnerabilities and renders a series of irreversible consequences. The film intertwines physical hypnosis to induce black acquiescence to a new identity. Rose acts as a form of hypnosis in her pursuit and pseudo-love for the black male. In seeking to consummate white acceptance and assimilation in his romantic relations with white women, the black male body enters a vulnerable state exploited by his “prize.” Thus, Rose uses her external appeal to sink her thorns deep into the black male psyche. Just as their love seems to bloom, it is not Rose who dies, but her black lover–illustrating the measure of a rose’s beauty is the ability to distract admirers from its thorns sinking into their flesh.
3. Science and black experimentation
The Armitage family abducts blacks, hypnotizes them, and uses the black body to improve white quality of life. The procedure leaves a small portion of the black brain but replaces the majority with a white brain. Thus, the black person becomes “a passenger” in his own body. This procedure seems synonymous to the abduction of African bodies and displacing them onto indigenous soil. This displacement renders the black body a passenger in the western experience as each generation proves more distant relationship to their African origins. While the African brain may not be physically extracted, it becomes westernized so that descendants of abducted Africans feel more American than African–making the black body a commuter in their own oppression.
Interestingly, upon first meeting, Chris and Rose disclose that they hit a deer on their way up. In response, Rose’s father remarks that they “did a service” by hitting and ultimately killing the deer. It is this same ideology that prompts the white conservative to seek out black bodies to dismember for their own personal benefit. In their minds, the Armitage family does a service to blacks abducted for their procedure, as their procedure affords the black body a purpose believed to not exist outside of serving whites. Prior to preparing Chris for the procedure, Mr. Armitage asks him “What is your purpose, Chris?” To pose this question prior to their intended procedure suggests that their use of his body incites a purpose otherwise non-existent.
It is this same ideology that prompted white doctors and scientists to use black bodies to test out medical procedures. Henrietta Lacks’ doctor felt entitled to the contents of her vagina, so much so that he did not even consult her next of kin prior to abducting her cells. The pearl-like substances that killed her would acquire purpose in the lives Lacks would come to save following her death. Thus, just as the Armitage family deems the black body purposeful in servicing whites, Henrietta Lacks’ story similarly illustrates the black body as purposeful solely when appropriated for western motives.
Slavery and the contemporary world implement a similar ideology as the most celebrated black figures: athletes, entertainers, and actresses all serve whites. Thus, the television, radio and even the education system all act as an informal hypnosis implemented as a means to control black bodies and place them on a dead end path to white servitude.
4. The unassumed intellect
Get Out channels Charles Chestnut’s “The Goophered Grapevine” and “Dave’s Neckliss” in illustrating the unassumed intellect in Chris’ TSA friend, Rod Williams. For those unfamiliar with Chestnut or these stories, a prevalent style of Chestnut is to implement a character who due to their vernacular speech prompts most to assume that he is intellectually deficient. The unassumed intellect uses these preconceived notions to his advantage and deceives his “intelligent” counterparts by the story’s conclusion.
Similarly, Williams provides comedic relief to audiences in his delivery. Yet the dramatic irony evokes laughter from some and frustration from others as audiences know that Williams is the sole party in the film that knows the truth. This depiction functions positively, as it evokes a caricatured black image as a means to exploit presumed western conceptualizing of black intellect. In a perfect world, caricatured imaging of blacks would disappear completely. However, it is an act of advancement to include stereotypes in a way that prompts contemplation, or that performs in a way to challenge western predilection for the compartmentalized black body.
The Final Verdict
The most resounding part of the film for me is when the black male body reappropriated as the Artimage grandfather, snaps out of his hypnosis and not only shoots Rose but shoots himself. This depiction illustrates black detachment from a controlled identity as a necessary component to disabling mental enslavement. Furthermore, blacks not only have to rid themselves from physical obstacles but the part of ourselves that encompasses these harmful ideologies.
My least favorite component of the film was the means in which the hypnotized black body reverts back to semi-consciousness. Although the black body is held hostage by a white brain, it a flash or white light that snaps them back into consciousness. Thus, although it is a black man who physically saves himself from his pending imprisonment–it is a stroke of white light that enables his escape.
Thus, while seemingly a cautionary tale to interracial dating, or to the black body trusting whites in any capacity–the film evokes a white savior in representation rather than form. At surface level, the film seems to evoke the separatist ideology implemented by civil rights leaders like the late Malcolm X. However, the authorship of said movie makes this close reading impossible to take seriously. For this reason, Get Out reminds me a lot of Birth of Nation.
After viewing both Birth of a Nation and Get Out, I left the theater somewhat content. These feelings faded almost instantaneously as I realized that these movies while depicting the complexities of the historical and contemporary black experience can only resonate but so deeply. Namely, both Peele and Parker write and produce movies that should be revolutionary, but are not.
Jordan Peele and Nate Parker both conclude their films in the same manner. Specifically, Birth of a Nation and Get Out end with all central white characters are murdered by blacks. While fatalities at the hands of blacks substantiate black bestiality, it also functions to depict white bodies as factors that must be eliminated to free blacks from an oppressive state. Like Birth of a Nation, Get Out is authored and directed by a black male married to a white woman. This dynamic casts said black authors as significantly less harmful and least likely to actually eliminate the white demographic because to do so would be to not only murder their wives but the mother of their children. Furthermore, with their interracial unions, the black male writer and director assumes a non-threatening stance in which the murder of fictive white characters seems an artistic choice rather than a means to uplift the black collective.
While the western world attaches a taboo labeling to interracial unions, these unions function favorably to foment white supremacy. The strongest black leaders are strong not because of what they say but because of what they do. Thus, these films are noteworthy, not revolutionary, as it is not enough to implement images that suggest an ideology disconnected from the thought and action of the author.
Writer and producer Jordan Peele also complicates the ability to take Get Out seriously with his comedic background. Thus, his depiction of a white family who abducts blacks and uses their bodies for their own benefit—becomes a well-executed joke rather than reflective of a past and present horror not limited to a New York City suburb.
Article by C.C. Saunders