“We Are One Race, The Human Race” is the new “I’m Colorblind”

We love division and categorization. You must admit. We love being able to uniquely identify ourselves. It’s a conflicting love because in the same token we love to unify and find connections. That’s a special feature of humans that heal and harm us.

Lately, there is a lot of talk about “We are one race, the human race.” “There is no race. It is made up” Then ideally what follows is that we all come together hug, sing Kumbaya, and the black folk bring some chicken to accompany the white folk green bean casserole. Bam! America is cured.

Nah

In the reality most of us refuse to live in, race is an identifier that cannot be erased. At least not now. And should it be? Many institutions have been created to supplement racist ideology and many institutions have been created to counteract that damaging ideology. These great institutions like HBCUs, black television networks, black social justice organizations, #BlackLivesMater, etc. do not perpetuate division, they provide an alternative that caters to a neglected community. What Wendy Williams is not understanding is that ignoring race ideology, that has been present for centuries and effects all lives, is ignoring the unbalanced position of racial power. That is why it was created! We can be one race “the human race” but we ARE made of different constructed categorizations based on our skin color which determines our social power. That’s reality.

Some of my work at my university is coordinating heritage month celebrations. For a while I was conflicted about why something like Black History Month and Latin Heritage Month is celebrated at universities if our goal is to produce adults of the future. These young adults are to transform and shift the existing world and improve it. My former idea of improvement meant adopting the monolithic mindset that we are all ONE, not to ignore the racial power at large but, to integrate it with the standard. Why don’t we recognize Black heroes as American heroes? Well, it took some critical thinking to accept that race (skin color) will always be in my judgment, in America’s judgment, in the world’s judgment.  If i ignore it then I am covering one eye. My sight, thus, is impaired.

FettyWomp

Understand that the standard is white. When you think of a plain shirt, what color shirt comes to mind? I’m sure it ain’t purple. Yes, race is deeper than the color of a shirt but what I’m trying to articulate is how we (humans) think which reflects race ideology. Wendy, the reason a “NAAWP” or “HWUs” don’t exist is because we already have them. They are called every other university and organization in the U.S. This doesn’t mean these institutions are inherently racist and exclusive, however, they were created under a guise that follows a racial ideological apparatus that standardizes whiteness. How is whiteness standardized? Let’s take a trip back in time when ideas of ONE were produced at the same time people of darker skin were being excluded from these standards. We were integrated into the standard. Little by little we were given the right to own property, to vote, to have state sanctioned marriages, to have limited liberties. According to the United States Government, these were not innate rights for people of color. Why, you ask? Because, we are not the standard. And frankly, I don’t want to be.

What’s disappointing about Wendy Williams’ comments on her television show is that she doesn’t understand her position of power as a black woman host. Of all people she should realize that she does not fit into the standard and she never will. She will never be categorized with the Kelly Ripa’s of television and I’m sure she does not want to be. Her aesthetic is black which distinguishes her from her competitors. Her gossip and shade is like the aunts and great aunts at the annual family reunion. Her shows air on BET which is equivalent to the NAACP and HBCU institutions that she condemned. They all do the same work which is to provide a service to those neglected. The nerve! I’m sure some of us were taught not to bite the hand that feeds and I’m sure her airing on BET puts food on the motha-fucking table. Now she done lost money with her Chevrolet sponsorship for a failed attempt to play devil’s advocate. I wonder how she’s doing after that?

ShutDownWendy

All this is to say that if we want to kill the deeply rooted racism in this country then we have to make a commitment to being realistic. Ignorance and naivete are enemies but they can also be opportunities. Much appreciation goes to the white folks claiming that #BlackLivesMatter in the face of All Live Matter. That’s more than love. It’s conscious. But don’t discredit your claim with the “We are ONE” bullshit. There has never been an appropriate time to live in a false reality. Lives are at stake when you speak of injustice, inequity, and inequality. We don’t need to be ONE to unify. We can unify in all our differences and come to terms that ideally we would love the world to blanket all people with humanity but realistically some of us are left in the cold. It’s too late to be ONE. Too much work has been done to make us MANY. Let us work within the field we are in.

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Five Stages of Consciousness

FreeYourMind

The cool thing now is claiming to be “conscious“. Many people are using this new C-word to describe themselves often unrightfully.

There is a process to consciousness. It is not something you are born with. You don’t have to be a part of the oppressive body to have it. It is a process that takes you through a host of different emotions that transform you as a person. At the end of it all, you might be less happier with the world but you will be more accepting of yourself.  Here are the steps of consciousness as I have experienced it. If you are not conscious, it is not too late. If you are not conscious you might not even know. This is the first stage.

1. Ignorance

Ignorance

People love to call others ignorant. Often they use it interchangeably with stupid however; they do not mean the same. Ignorant is lacking knowledge or awareness. For example, I am ignorant when it comes to physics. I don’t know shit about physics. So if a physics scholar called me ignorant, I’m not taking that as fighting words. It’s the truth. To claim your journey to consciousness is to seek knowledge and awareness of something. Therefore, the first step of coming into consciousness is admitting to not knowing.

2. Disbelief

Disbelief

After you hear something like, “The Government made orders to murder Martin Luther King Jr.” or “Black men are being targeted by law enforcement to fill privatized prisons which is an evolution of slavery” or “History is being diluted and erased to serve a larger agenda”, they can sound like a hoopla of conspiracies but these facts aren’t that secret. No, there is not a room of white men planning for world domination since the making of the Constitution. (Joking, but not really) But because these facts are so off-putting they can easily be dismissed. This dismissal is disbelief. No way J. Edgar Hoover initiated COINTELPRO which murdered and framed black revolutionaries of the 70s-90s. No way these same strategies are being used on black activists, specifically the Black Lives Matter Movement. Sorry boo, it happened and is happening.

3. Anger

Anger

So now that you know the truth, you mad or nah? The truth hurts. It might’ve been better not knowing. That’s why so few people are conscious. Some stop in stage 2 or they live “blissfully” in stage 1. Conscious folk know that ignorance ain’t bliss and disbelief of facts is like those Christians that don’t believe in dinosaurs. It makes no sense. And now we should know that consciousness has ALL to do with sense. So, you’re angry now? You hate institutions and people, you might even hate yourself a little for finding this out so late. This anger and frustration is unhealthy to sit in though it could last for years. As hard as it might be, move past this and you will see the light in Stage 4… or not.

4. Awareness

Awareness

With years of slowly winding your eyes open you now see the light and realize that the light isn’t light. Light is an illusion. What I mean by this is that, the way you now see the world is not in binaries and opposites: rights and wrongs. You realize that life is more complex and grey. You see things in a way you did not before. Your preferred conversations change and you begin to analyze the awareness of your surroundings and your circle. The people you admire change and you start to think that the Black Israelites on the corner of Jamaica Ave. and Sutphin or by Gallery Place aren’t as crazy as you thought. (Though, yes they can be quite extreme) You start to question every fucking thing. You almost feel like a toddler with the sponge brain and infamous “why” questions. Though the new information usually isn’t good news, you will be so satisfied in knowing that you know. It’s like learning your numbers or how to spell your name.  This is a rebirth. Cradle this newborn awareness and nurture it. Feed it, clothe it, and reintroduce it to the world. Hopefully this is the new and improved you.

5. Hopeless/Hopeful

Hope

Sometimes being hopeful can come across as naïve. When I speak of hope, I speak in terms of change and one’s hope for a meaningful change. Is it possible or is it impossible? You choose your position. Once reborn your sight is clearer than ever and how ironic that the world becomes so grey.  How unpleasing and grotesque. I think this is the stage I am in. After my awareness of the world around me I felt that there was hope in purifying the ugliness of the world. Recent events brought to light by video footage such as the murders of black and brown bodies often makes me feel hopeless. Sometimes you might feel there is no avenue to lift the root of the issue. I didn’t want to go the leaf or branch route because the tree still stood. Are you following me?  After questioning your faith and loosing yourself, you are lost and only have your consciousness. You find comfort in someone that shares your consciousness and this allows you to exhale but it’s not enough. As depressing as it sounds, find comfort in this feeling. Find comfort that because you have gone through this process of consciousness that means you are an agent of hope. Find comfort in feeling alone. You won’t be alone for long.

Realize that consciousness is cyclic. All through life you are learning but you will reach a point when you feel confident enough to use this knowledge toward advocacy. There is no way you can be conscious and not feel moved to change your surroundings. And those that seek change through service are not necessarily conscious. Consciousness, overall, is a learning journey and I believe it has no end. The world is forever shifting thus; one’s knowledge of the world will do the same.  I don’t believe that being hopeful is the final stage of coming into consciousness. I think it is the beginning of advocacy that can transform the world as we now see it.

SteveBiko