I have a friend who writes great things. But she didn't know if they belonged here on The Liberator blog, not realizing that it's exactly the type of stuff that we need more of! So, with permission, I'm sharing!
This is an ongoing issue with me … the issue of black identity AND its function/purpose. I’m going to challenge it, I’m going to question it, I’m going to agree, I’m going to disagree. I’m going to make sense, and I’m going to contradict myself. So there. Bottom line is, I’m going to answer these questions in my head and I’m going to be honest and objective about what I feel. While I was doing research for an article I was writing for work, I came across an essay written by Senghor (former Senegalese president) who was also the main proponent of “negritude.” In its original context and intent, the Négritude writers found solidarity in a common black identity as a rejection of French colonial racism. They believed that the shared black heritage of members of the African diaspora was the best tool in fighting against French political and intellectual hegemony and domination. Even more broadly, the term addresses, what would contemporarily be called, “blackness.”
I can dig it. But only as a temporary and political function, and a means to an end – that end hopefully being a mass embracing of our African heritage as a common thread instead of a reactionary, political COLOR. I can dig it, but only because I know how very recent and modern “blackness” actually is. Sometimes, culture is indeed a catalyst for solidarity, but is it enduring? (That is, also, if we are actually stipulating that “blackness” is a culture. We could argue … but that’s another post.)
My overall problem with this is that if we are to be more forward-thinking, this focus on “blackness” places such heavy emphasis on our cultural existence and detracts from other scholarly functions that we need to reacquaint ourselves with … you know … the ones that were emblazoned in our heritage by our earliest kemetic ancestors.
Harold Cruse (“Crisis of the Negro Intellectual”) refers to it as a lack of contemporary negro presence in the scientific, statistical, empirical, qualitative and quantitative fields. As we know there are different ways to address problems – and we ought to be utilizing ALL of our fortes and not just our cultural solidarity. We have the blueprint, we have just been so far removed. For instance, why can’t we organize and come up with a systematic and collective way to become more economically sufficient and politically relevant all throughout the diaspora? What are some ways that we can neutralize the ramifications of colonialism and exploitation for future generations? What are some ways that we are going to broker a strategic trans-atlantic relationship with our brethren?
It would be so easy to just accept the “negritude” idea alone, as it makes perfect sense to me on an emotional level. But I’m increasingly finding myself hovering between these two phrases from Zora and Tina, respectively … “just because you’re my skinfolk, doesn’t make you my kinfolk” and “what’s love got to do with it?”