What does it mean to be Black, African American, or maybe just a minority in America?

Hello, Curls!

This month’s “Dealing with it” post will discuss what it means to be a black person in America to me, and things that I face personally. It is only right that this is the topic of discussion because it is black history month! There are so many awesome things happening this month beyond our struggles.

Although we face many struggles, I wanted to shed light on some greatness that has come from that struggle. We continue to break boundaries, glass ceilings, and walls in different aspects. February couldn’t have been a better month for black excellence. You need some examples, you say? Here are a few:

  1. Fences, Moonlight, Hidden Figures are films (not representing black people as slaves or maids) that have won remarkable awards that we worked so hard to obtain.
    1. Viola Davis is the first black woman to win an Oscar, Tony, and Emmy, all for acting for her role in Fences. (Whoopi Goldberg was the first black woman to win an Oscar, Tony, Emmy, and Grammy for numerous categories.)
    2. Moonlight received an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, which is one of the highest achievements to receive.
    3. Hidden Figures received numerous awards, along with the actresses receiving awards for the works of the film.

These are only a few things in the acting/film world we have been recognized for within the month of February.

Since I am on the topic of movies, there is a movie that recently released called Get Out. The movie involves an interracial couple, a black man and a white woman, visiting the woman’s parents for the weekend. I won’t spill all the tea on the movie because I would hope you have seen it before reading this, but if you haven’t I would stop and watch it before reading further. I do hint at some events that occur in the movie, so I don’t want to ruin your experience. I will talk about the themes that are presented in the movie and how they are relevant to myself and other black people today.

  • Mental Slavery
    • We often don’t realize this, but the majority of our communities are in a mental slavery. This involves several aspects: the representation of ourselves to other races that often submerges itself over to our own communities because of how we are presented in the media, the generational divide in the black community, and social injustices. This is how it compares to Get Out:
      1. Chris finally escapes the terror of what was going on in the house, and he is approached with police lights. His first reaction was the hold his hands up and show that he was no threat. I grew up being taught that you are to respect officer’s of service and do what they ask without resistance. This same teaching, along with numerous others are being passed down, and this handicaps us from learning our basic rights.
      2. “The sunken place is similar to the actual paralyzing state of being when you are unable to defend yourself against racism in certain settings like the workplace.  The hypnosis is a satirical/extreme example of the psychology associated with enduring racism of all kinds.  You are aware that it is happening, but the need to keep your job, or not go to jail prevents you from being able to react.  The mind of the actual black person was trapped in the sunken place, and while they were aware, they were unable to react (source: notcarriebradshaw.com). ” This explains how most of us are aware of social injustices, and although we try to fight it, we still have to deal with it. This often handicaps us because we began to believe that we are the blame for a lot of those social injustices.
      3. Before arriving at the house, Rose and Chris hit a deer. Rose’s dad, Dean, explains he is glad that they killed the deer.  He believes that deer need to be eradicated, because of how they are ruining the ecosystem are a waste, he’s glad they hit the deer. This compares to what is believed about black people and their communities. The perception is that black people devalue the area they reside. And because of this representation in the media, it is often believed in the black community as well.
  • Black people are particularly more athletic than most other races.
    • Although, we know we are better because we are magic. The innuendos are quite disturbing through the movie. Assuming we know every athletic black person because we are athletic, or feeling the need to bring up a black person’s name just to make a point. We get it, but we have always got it. We already know we take a massive percentage of sports, but there is no reason to point out the obvious.
  • The realization that even long time white friends can be covert racists. In an interview with Vulture, Daniel Kaluuya answered a question involving this exact topic.
    • Interviewer: “What I was so taken aback by in this movie was just the perfectly banal scenario of going to meet, essentially, your in-laws, and how well that translates into the language of horror. You see the opposing experiences of Rose and Chris even when they’re just talking about this meeting, and from those very beginning moments, I felt so incredibly uncomfortable and tense. Rose not hearing Chris’s concerns isn’t just a couple’s disagreement; it’s that something terrible is going to happen to him.”
      Daniel Kaluuya: “That’s what racism feels like. That’s everyday racism. That’s something you can’t describe. That’s not someone calling you a “nigger.” That’s … you live in that shit. That’s tough. Every day. And it’s like, I’ll be saying this: People think horror films have monsters and aliens and darkness and all this shit. In the real world, there’s probably nothing more horrifying than racism. Living racism is a horrifying experience. And then, having to normalize it and internalize it. Sexism or homophobia, all that shit is the same shit. It’s an everyday thing, and it’s so common, and that’s hard to really put your head around. And you having to stomach it in order to keep your job, or to get further in life. You’re having to compromise, and if you don’t, you’re a nuisance. And there’s a paranoia, ’cause you’re like, This is fuckin’ … am I going crazy? Is that person …” This scenario perfectly explains how even when some is listening to someone of another race explain their struggles, they simply are complaining and are lazy. Don’t tell me, “You would’ve voted for Obama for a second term.”, “I have black friends, so I’m not racist.”, or “I don’t see color.” Those are all literally ways to say, I’m racist because you silly ignoring the issues at hand. There is no reason for you to make those statements in defense when you are not racist.

Although, I know the people who should read his isn’t going to read it. I want to just express that you are not alone in how you’re feeling. You aren’t “just complaining” or “lazy”. The things you are facing and struggling with are real things.

Since this post is getting lengthy and I know I hate reading long blog posts, I will just wrap it up here.

I really appreciate you reading this month’s “Dealing with it” post.

Did you find this post helpful?
Do you have any things you face as a black person in America?
Did you watch any of the movies above?
If so, we would like to know in the comments below!
Thank you for reading, Curls!