I love my blackness. And yours.
Being black is more than the melanin in your skin; it is more than the kinks in your afro – being black is a culture defined by not only by struggles and experiences but of excellence and ingenuity. All in all, blackness is a social movement seeking to break the constraints of commercial identity.
Recently there has been a light skin or ‘lightie’ epidemic across the Western world which has given rise to the discrimination amongst the black community. Mainstream culture including social media has projected this bias across all mediums making it impossible to escape. There is no evidence of a correlation between the lightie trend and the increase in casual racism, and this social climate may only be momentary. However, this ‘craze’ has highlighted an important issue which we must address regarding identity; more specifically blackness.
The significance of blackness has only recently come to public attention via social media platforms such as Twitter and the rise of popular, independent activists such as FeministaJones and Deray Mckesson but also celebrities such as Alicia Keys, Beyoncé and Amandla Stenberg. Blackness is the embracing of black music, fashion, food, men and women alike. It celebrates the diversity within the black community, breaks the boundaries between people of colour and seeks to empower against discrimination and racism, such as police brutality – hence the popularity of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Yet blackness cannot be appreciated in its entirety until there is understanding of its history and subsequently its socio-economic impact.
Beforehand, it must be noted that this is not a modern movement. It did not begin at the aftermath of the shooting of Trayvon Martin, or as a response to the massacre of innocent black men. It is a conflict of which we have sought answers, all relating to the socio-political climate of the time. It could, therefore, be described as a journey of realisation. As a people, we have a decent grasp of where we have been, however, it is where we are going which must be the focus point of this journey.
The Transatlantic slave trade acted as a catalyst for the idea of blackness; however, it did not become a unified movement until the Haitian revolution and subsequently, the abolition of slavery. The discovery and acknowledgement of racial identity led to attempts to upheave the common enemy – white supremacy. This was then followed by the period of time known as the Civil Rights Movement, which was an ‘age of enlightenment’ for people of colour. At this time, not only was Dr King’s creed gaining prominence and resulting in fundamental constitutional changes, but other radical groups such as the Black Panthers were presenting their view of blackness. They used this to inspire a culture of black excellence, centred on creativity in music, art, poetry and literature as well as sports. Harlem became the liberating hub of the black community.
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