Archive for April 17, 2009

Expanding Black Identities

Posted in anthropology with tags , , , , , on April 17, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy


From my delightful buddies at TWiB!:

Rare Species of Non-Urban Africanis-Americanus Discovered; Scientists Hypothesize Some Blacks May Not Even Be Christian

You know how humans can get born somewhere – a rainforest, or a desert, or a small island in the middle of an ocean, or on a tall mountain – and they learn how to live in that place and they end up producing new humans who also live in that place, or maybe the newer humans move someplace else and adapt to that new environment, maybe learn new customs or a different language or something? Black people are kind of like that.

On the Root, Kenneth J. Cooper asks, “Is anything black about the American West?”

He writes, “You see, too many African Americans – you know who you are – believe real black folks are from the South or the urban North. They’re not from the West, not Oklahoma, not Colorado – where I was born – and certainly not Hawaii, though there are exceptions made for California and L.A. I’ve been hearing it for the 30 years or so I’ve lived on the East Coast
This narrow-mindedness results in part, I think, from our creative imaginations of the black experience, in fiction and film, almost exclusively in the South or North. Historically, African Americans have been concentrated in the South, but major migrations have taken us not just to the North but to the West. By taking a geocentric view of blackness, we cut ourselves off from parts of our history – and even some of our heroes. With a black Hawaiian in the White House, it’s time to embrace an expansive view of the black experience in its full diversity.”

The black frontier experience needs its day in the sun ASAP. For the fashion we’d see on the street, if nothing else.

Right, and what happens when we complicate what blackness even is, or add in expansive perspectives of gender, sexuality, mixed ethnicity or any other category? And wasn’t the first American cowboy a negro? Black cowboys and gay cowboys aside, I appreciate how Mos Def and Talib crack this shit open. Why we limiting blackness to meta-narratives of a particular experience? You know who else is a black star???

Sunshine Superboy