Friday, December 10, 2010

Embrace vs. Assimilate

Throughout the Black Power Movement, embracing what it meant to be black was one central theme of the movement. Blacks focused on maintaining segregation rather they continuing to fight for integration like advocates of the Civil Rights Movement. Though it was an effort to create positives images to overshadow the negative images of the black community, a celebration such as Kwanzaa even called for Blacks to embrace their blackness and be happy with who they are. People held their fists high, began wearing dashikis, sporting afros, ceasing attempts to bleach their skin, and other fads that took away from their blackness. For centuries white instilled in the popular culture that being black was a burden. Whites strived to make blacks feel as if they were not a part of the American society and therefore these worthless beings did not belong. While whites used names such as “coon” and “brutes” to define blacks, blacks worked to refine their own image by viewing themselves as children of God and comparing themselves to the people of exodus, giving themselves a sense of value that whites stripped them of during slavery.
Today blacks have completely dismissed the struggle that their people have gone through in order for society to see them in a more positive image. I believe that we have relapse back to the white ideology that black is not beautiful, but something undesirable and deserving of unjustified hatred simply because of melanin content and being different from the popular culture. Some blacks are known to renounce their blackness in order to better fit into society. Unlike during the Black Power Movement where black was something to be proud of, being “too black” is now a problem for society and is labeled as something negative and blacks move towards blending and assimilation rather than embracing their culture. Now again, the image of being black has also relapsed into negativity. People of a different culture would look at a black person strangely if they overly accentuated their African roots or even simply acted naturally as they would around other black people. It seems that blacks will never be publicly accepted for their natural being, and will always have to adjust in order to be seen in a better light by those who they associate themselves with. Blacks even use the word “African” in “African American” to create their own identity separate but similar to the identity of an American. This sense of naming better defined them as blacks but also Americans, but to be the ideal American in America for blacks is to not be a black person who speaks a loose dialect, wears different clothes, and listens to certain music (I want to also not that there is a difference between being a civilized black as opposed to one that misrepresents). I want also point out how many blacks actually name themselves “black” as opposed to “African American”, and why would they identify themselves one over the other?

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree that there has been a kind of reversal within our society to not see Black as special anymore. But I guess i can only agree with this so far. In the professional world someone cannot go into a job interview wearing what Black society would describe as different and unique because when it comes to the world of business integration of dress has to be implemented. While I may not agree that conforming to white businessman standards is right, it does set the bar that if an African American wants to be a professional they have to conform somewhat to the majority to make it. I'm not really sure how one would go about changing this standard, but i do recognize the issue.