In honor of the ever-warm fuzzy racial climate in America, I, Kindra Joyce Ferriabough, a self-identified Black 4th generation American who you’ve probably never heard of, have seen fit to clear the air a bit by addressing some of the most popularly asked questions of and about “black” people by “white” people. Instead of opting for the more traditional comedic or angry route, however, I’ve decided to do so with serious and informative intentions. I hope such intentions are constructive contributions to racial discussions. And, yes, I’ve been asked all of these questions by white people, hence the need for discussion.
Question #1: Why do all black people…?
Answer: Let’s stop right there. There are numerous ethnicities, cultures and colors that exist under the social classification term of “black”. There’s:
Brown & American
Brown & Haitian
Brown & Brazilian
Brown & Aboriginal Australian, Melanesian
Brown & Puerto Rican, Afro Mexican, Panamanian, Guyanese, Cuban
Brown & yellow
Brown & albino
Half brown American and white American
Brown & Garifuna, Afro Belizean/Creole
Brown & Dominican
Brown & Cape Verdean
Brown & Jamaican, Trini, Caribbean…
Just to name a few. So you’ll have to be more specific and informed in your headlines and conversations about what you mean by “black”.
Question #2: Why can’t black people just get over slavery? It happened over 400 years ago. The Jews, Italians and Irish did. Black people enslaved their own people too.
Answer: Firstly, atrocities will never be “gotten over” insofar as they become interwoven into the fabric of a people’s history. Slavery will always be a part of a “black” person’s history.
Secondly, properly educated people understand the global and race-less nature of slavery. Such people also understand that colonization of the Americas was catalyzed by companies of joint stock investors on behalf of English monarchies whose bottom line was capital, never mind the thousands of settling Europeans who died en route to and upon settling. By and large, however, the American institution of slavery was a European and white enterprise characterized by brown slave labor.
Thirdly, slavery occurred over a period of 300+ years in about a 400-year old America and was abolished in 1865, a mere 150 years ago. During this time, hundreds of thousands of Africans were multiply stripped of their identities by being forcibly removed from their homelands and indoctrinated into chattel slavery, a unique brand of slavery in which humans are treated as personal property that can be bought, sold, murdered, maimed, raped, traded and inherited. The African eventually evolved into the “black” American. The Virginia Slave Codes enacted hereditary slavery laws, thereby linking brown skin with generational poverty.
Varying shades of “fatherless” brown “black” people emerged as a result of “black” women slaves being repeatedly raped by white overseers. “Black” men were often castrated. “Black” families were often broken up and sold into different white families. Further division of the black identity occurred with the better treatment of lighter skinned slaves over darker skinned slaves, and the enacting of fugitive slave laws, whereby “blacks” were encouraged to report on fellow slaves who had escaped. As late as the 18th century, it was made illegal for “blacks” to learn how to read and write, congregate in groups, leave the country and have their own money. Moreover, the racial caste system of Jim Crow ended as little as 40 years ago. “Paramour rights” in the South both pre and post-Civil War de-facto legalized the right of white men to forcibly take “black” women as paramours and procreate with them, creating additional “fatherless” brown “black” children since miscegenation was made illegal. I, personally, was almost run over by a white man in a 7-11 parking lot in Watertown, MA in 2015 not long after a white man shot up a “black” church in South Carolina.
Admittedly, there are many do-nothing, whining, backward red neck, self-destructive blacks who do absolutely nothing but harp on race, but even for those who don’t, it’s pretty hard not to when…
Point: Reverse Racism! #whitegenocide
Counterpoint: I don’t understand. For non-whites, daily reality looks something like this:
What color are most historians who write history?
What color are most executives who control the music, news & television industry, and all other forms of media?
What color are most primary school teachers?
What color are most curriculum, textbook writers & education boards, people who control what children learn?
What color are most college professors, admissions committees, Deans, Presidents and Vice Presidents?
What color are most Presidents of the United States, presidential cabinets, members of the House & Senate and politicians, most of the people who run the United States of America?
What color are most judges & lawmakers who have the power to lock you away forever?
What color are most lawyers, doctors?
What color are most police officers & commissioners, law enforcement officials who have the power to end your life and get away with it?
What color are most social psychology researchers who concoct study generalizations & statistics that become public opinion?
What color are most co-workers, organization Presidents and CEOs, hiring managers & members of HR, people who have the power to determine whether you can feed, clothe & shelter yourself?
What color are most award show committees?
What color are most sports coaches and commissioners?
What color are most discrimination committees who determine whether you’ve been discriminated against or not?
What color are most Union controllers & Presidents?
What color are most landlords, land purchasers & leaseholders, people who control whether you’re homeless or not?
What color are most bank managers & CEOs, state, city & town fund controllers, people who have the power to approve or disprove loans & provide funding to your community?
What color are a lot people who tell you not to talk about racism? That racism doesn’t exist?
It is difficult to abstain from talking about such realities when they are, in fact, your reality! It is difficult when the country you were born in enslaved people who look like you, continues to deny people who look like you yet welcomes any and every immigrant and emigrant from, incidentally, some of the most racist countries in the world because, you know, this white skin supremacy thing is global. It’s difficult when ancestors of people who enslaved your ancestors laugh at how unable you are to compete in a world that was not built to include you and that they’ve had a 400+ year head start in! It’s also difficult when you have grandparents and parents who are still alive and *were* alive when white people were really evil.
Question #3: Why is a black person able to say the word ‘nigga’ and not white people?
Answer: “Nigga” is a variation of “nigger”, a term associated with the ownership and overall dehumanization of Africans and black Americans for several hundred years BY EUROPEANS and WHITES. It is also a term that many culturally Black Americans reclaimed, remixed and recycled into lemonade as a source of bonding amongst one another.
To complicate matters, not every (culturally) “Black” American uses or is OK with the word.
Moreover and admittedly, I don’t really understand the question since it seems to imply that white people themselves don’t use the word when they do! They invented it! They also invented:
coon, sambo, pickaninny, jungle bunny, jigaboo, savage, colored, negro…
Generally, amongst culturally “Black” Americans, the word “nigga” goes far beyond looking and sounding cool.
Question #4: Why can’t we all just get along? I don’t see color.
Answer: The only people who have the right to say they don’t see color are blind people. Otherwise, you have eyeballs and the optical ability to process brown from yellow from white from whatever. WE ARE DIFFERENT! WE. LOOK. DIFFERENT. And that’s cool. However, the problem that most people have is being OK with that difference. Saying that we should all just get along and not see color is offensive to someone else’s lived experience that is not yours. It attempts to avoid and bypass hard discussion by wrapping up the items of someone else’s experience into a nice neat little box and bow and sending it with a smile to never where. As a “black” person, I don’t walk around expecting apologies and explanations from “white” people, but I also do not expect my experience to be silenced because of your discomfort.
Question #5: Why do all “black” people…?
Answer: Why do white people kill their entire families? Why do Asians and Latin Americans hold such little regard for women and the disabled? Why are Chinese people so exploitive? Why are the Irish and Italians so racist, even toward each other? Why are you assuming that the stereotypical actions of several is the case for all?
Individual “black” people are no more representative of or spokesmen for over 4 million “blacks” in America than Black Lives Matter, Al Sharpton, President Obama or BET. Bwahahaha. And that is because ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE DIFFERENT! Seriously, it’s 2016, powered by Google. Lack of historical education about one of the most diverse countries in the world and the people in it, as well as a lack of education about a brown people that have been documented in America as early as the 1500s is getting to be more telling of you than “black” people.