I hardly ever refer to myself like this, but La Bella Noire is angry.
There is a subset of black people that some refer to as the “Neo-Soul” crowd. For whatever reason, many look to this group for their stereotypical academic prowess. More often than not, these are the people that mainstream society sees as the poets, the ones who are racially conscious, working toward creating a united front for our race. Some people, often very inaccurately, refer to these people as the open-mic set, always talking on a philosophical, in tune to the metaphysical aura of our race; able to tap into the emotional nerve of the people and express a pain and passion not easily articulated by most.
I can’t say that I’ve completely bought into this stereotype, because I realize that everyone who wears the “neo-soul uniform” per se doesn’t think the same way. Everybody has his or her own motivation and vision, and I respect that. But what I don’t respect is intolerance.
I have quite a few friends and associates who are part of the so-called Soul Renaissance, and according to a few of them, I just don’t measure up. I was, perhaps naively, under the impression that most of our soulful brothers and sisters don’t spew dislike at other brothers and sisters that have a different view or lifestyle than theirs. I consider myself to be a well-rounded individual, but I guess for some people that’s not good enough.
I’m not sure what exactly I’m “supposed” to be as a black woman according to these people. In their eyes, I’m not black enough because I participate in activities typically considered to be reserved for white people. So what I ski, so what I played lacrosse, so what I listen to rock music and hip-hop, so what I can sing some Broadway show tunes. All of that doesn’t mean I don’t know who I am and where I come from. According to them, I don’t dress black enough and because I don’t always wear my hair natural I’m somehow less than. Just because I decide to relax my hair doesn’t make me a slave to European culture, nor does it mean that I’m ashamed of being brown and am trying to assimilate. I wear whatever I want to wear, and don’t require anybody’s permission to do so. I don’t limit my friends or my dating pool based on their race, because honestly I have more important things to worry about. But I guess all of that means I’m not black enough, right?
As you can tell, this week my thoughts have been swirling around this subject. I suppose in the wake of Michael Richards’ verbal assault and the NYPD incident with Sean Bell, I’m left wondering about the racial constructs and attitudes of our society. I’m patently disgusted with how so many of our people can actually stand up and say that they want to put up a united front for our race but continually berate their own. How can they expect anyone to take their fight for equality, etc seriously when they don’t even like their own people. Telling me I’m not black enough to be in your presence doesn’t make me want to unite with you, it makes me want to fracture with you.
Seriously, what good does it do to sit there and tell me that I don’t meet your narrow-minded definition of blackness? I’m acutely aware of where I came from, what and who I am. It’s a sign of insecurity when you have to tear down those who fight the same fight you fight everyday.