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.
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.
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?
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.