Black Enough

“For some reason we are brainwashed to think, if you’re not a thug or an idiot, you’re not black enough. If you go to school, make good grades, speak intelligent, and don’t break the law, you’re not a good black person. It’s a dirty, dark secret in the black community.”

-Charles Barkley

Last week Charles Barkley dropped this little tirade on the black community. He responded to a rumor that supposedly Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, was considered not black enough by his fellow teammates and that had led to a rift between him and his teammates. Though that rumor was later confirmed to be false by Russell Wilson, I believe Charles Barkley is right on the money with his comments. I’ve been through what he’s talking about.

You speak properly. You do your homework. You don’t make any trouble. And then you get slammed with

“You want to be like them!”

“Think you’re better than the rest of us.”

“You’re not black.”

It got to a point where I would shrug my shoulders in response. I didn’t get what these black people wanted from me. What did I need to prove to them to be really black? What was being “black enough”? I just accepted it. Guess I’m not black then. Guess I’m an Oreo whatever that is.

It took me a long time to realize that those black people didn’t own the black identity nor did they have the right to decide who was black and who wasn’t. They didn’t get to tell me what I am. I defined me.

Barkley’s comments reminded me of Rob Parker’s inquisition into RGIII’s blackness from a few years ago.

For those of you who don’t know Rob Parker, he was a sports analyst on ESPN. One day he went after the quarterback on the Washington Redskins, questioning his blackness. You can see his very ignorant comments in the video below.

Is this only a black thing? Do white people deal with other whites saying they aren’t white enough? Or Latinos? Asians?

Who are these blackness investigators? Where do they come from? Who appointed them to check out and measure blackness? Is there a committee I don’t know about that deals with this? Where do they get their criteria for blackness from?

These investigators always seem to go after any black person having success. Like achieving in life is a sign that you’re likely to stop being black. They never evaluate the blackness of criminals and thugs.

I never heard anything like,

“You just got out of jail for the same shit you went in for? I’m not sure you’re really black then.”

or

“You failed class because you skipped? That’s not very black of you.”

A black man who’s a criminal is accepted. He’s fine. The black community accepts you.

A black man with a white fiance busting his ass everyday trying to live his dream? They’re going to start looking into your blackness. You might not be black enough. You might just be an “Uncle Tom” or “Oreo”. Maybe you’ll be deemed an “honorary white”.

Interesting double standard.

Why do some black people need to make another person’s racial integrity their business? It’s not helping anyone. They’re creating a bigger problem. Smart black children could be dissuaded from higher education because of this sentiment. I’ve overheard children teasing one another about doing homework and studying. Is that what we want?

Why is there this belief that if you don’t fit a certain mold, you’re not black? Is it because certain blacks equate success with selling out their race? Do they think that to be black means you have to suffer? You have to be poor? You have to be married to a black woman?

In the video, Rob Parker gives a vague definition of what being black is. Not having a white fiance, not voting Republican, being down with the “cause” and having dreads.

If some black dude wants to vote republican, then he should be able to without being bothered. If some black guy doesn’t want to have dreads, he shouldn’t have to worry about losing black points. If some black woman wants to marry a white man, there should be no problem. The thing that these blackness investigators forget to realize is that the black experience can’t be ripped away from someone.

You can question their racial integrity but you can’t change how that person feels when they’re pulled over by the police. You can’t take away the eyes staring at their every move when they walk into a 7/11 at night. You can’t make them feel any more comfortable when someone says “you’re better than those other blacks”. You can’t kick them out of the race just because they live their life different than yours.

You can’t.

They’ll always be black and you can’t do anything about it.

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