Friday, October 24, 2008

What Connects Us?

I've been thinking lately. I guess we all know by now that the times are changing and uncertain. It's a good time to just stop. And think.

I was involved in a discussion a couple of days ago and it made me start wondering: What really connects us? By us, I mean Black people.

I think I've come upon an answer. There's really nothing that connects us. The only one thing that tenuously holds us together is our color. And even at that . . . there are so many shades of Black, even Black so light it looks like White.

I thought about various things that could be connectors. Like our history. But we all have different histories. Could it be our interaction/reactions to White oppression and subjugation? We've all experience this quite differently. Could it be that we all come from Africa? Well, so many of us are a combination of so many different backgrounds that we can't strictly say that every Black person is 100% African. It's certainly not language that connects us.

And it's certainly not culture.

Because there is no such thing as "Black culture". And you will find that once you try to postulate about certain aspects of "Black culture," you will most certainly find that some Black people take serious offense at that. For example, I used to freely say that "Black folks love to dance" or "Black people have a intuitive sense of rhythm." Now, I'm learning to be very careful about that because undoubtedly, someone will say (sometimes angrily), and perhaps rightly so, that it's not true of all Black people, that Black people are not one homogeneous blob.

And I never believed that we were. But I always believed there was some thread that held all of us together. That we are all vested in some issues that affect all of us. That there are some values that we all hold true. Some aspects of how each one of us were raised that are the same. Some generalizations we could make about ourselves as Black people and all agree, that yeah, for the most part, it's true. That beyond our color, there are things that grow from our common experience of being second-class citizens, degraded often and abused always. If nothing else, I thought we could at least agree that we all have a knack for survival.

But, I guess, my cynicism has taken over and I just don't believe it anymore. Color actually doesn't connect. I am keenly aware of how I feel excluded from conversations that focus about African-Americans--I don't share much of that history. In my younger days, I used to wonder how could anyone date and marry outside of their race . . . how would they understand each other? And now, it's clear. And I hope my younger sister and young niece are able to let go of the idea that there is actually some kind of real connection between people because they are Black and cast a wide, inclusive net when it comes to who they make friends with and who they partner romantically with.

Of course, if Black people want to connect on the level of their Blackness, it's actually quite easy to do so. Because even if our backgrounds are not exactly the same, there are similarities that are undeniable. Across the board and across the races, human beings are more alike than different. And that one small, obvious similarity (darker skin), I think, could draw us closer and closer. But I wouldn't argue that.

I, for one, don't see the use in fighting the "We all are one" or the "No matter where you come from, You're an African" battle anymore.


OG, The Original Glamazon said...

I think what connects us is race. Race is a connector, really you are one of three things racially if you are a scientist you are Black, White, or Asian. As much as Latinos don’t like to admit it, it is not a race but a culture that actually connects them despite race. Anyway…I am not sure what connects us other than our origins that can be traced back to the motherland, but in reality many can trace origins back to the motherland, hence why it is the motherland.

I don’t think the importance is so much as in what connects us as it is in the connections that we do feel among one another. There are some blacks I don’t feel a connection to at all and some whites I feel a strong connection too but the connection is on a different level. Some people let their blackness be a part of them and others let the stark contrast from the generalities define them as the anti-black black person. Really when it boils down to it skin color really don’t mean that much you know its not like say Labrador vs a Toy Poodle, its more like a Golden Retriever vs a brown one (are there Brown Retrievers?). Anyway it should never be something that stops us but it doesn’t hurt for it to be something that binds us.

Oh yeah the point you made about feeling excluded is one of the reason I rarely use the term African American I think it excludes a whole part of the Diaspora that shares many of our trials of being black. I never want to exclude as those who have excluded me. Its part of the reason I self-identify as Black and not AA.

Ok I’m done enough rambling for today. Have a good weekend!!


St Theresa lent me her halo said...

Actually, science is very clear in telling us that there is no scientific basis for race. It is purely a sociological construct.

I agree with you, sister. What does it mean to be black? Why is that seen as a preferable connection versus just the fact that we're all humans? I love my people, but when I say "black", I'm in political mode. In fact, skin color should not factor that highly into my decision to connect with someone. I can accept that and live that way and *still* fight racism.

I think most people like to connect on the concept of race out of fear. I choose to live as fearless a life as possible.


Just Me said...

Very provactive! I think we're connected by our humanity and by our desire to be strong women (or men). And of course...the internet. Glad I found you.

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