In a post recently about some young friends of mine and questions they raised about race and racism, one asked me, “Why can’t they just be Black?” when we were discussing Obama, Beyoncé and other multi-ethnic celebrities who speak about their different ethnicities.
It hit me after I posted what my young friends were really asking me:
Why can’t they just be Black? Why isn’t Black good enough?
Why can’t they just be Black? Why do celebrities have to claim Native American, Italian, French or especially white – isn’t Black good enough?
Why can’t they just be Black? When is being just Black going to be good enough?
Imagine being young and Black in this country right now. There must be a swelling sense of pride at a black president coupled with a continuing sense of injury because of the persistent presence of racism. To be young and Black is wonderful, yet young people still exist in a coded and fractured racist society.
My flawed response was to point out my own gumbo of ethnicities and to mention a person I met, who is African American who did a DNA test and found out he has about 20% Italian heritage, another opportunity missed by yours truly, I should instead have said to my 14-year-old African American friends:
Yes, that would be enough, to say I’m Black, because black is where it’s at.
Why not? They could just be Black. Isn’t that enough?
They could just be Black because to say I’m black is to possess a wonderfully rich culture and heritage and who wouldn’t be proud of that?