Somewhere in the past twelve months of Black folks being associated with “the whip (and the Nae Nae),” “Trap Queens,” Empire’s negative stereotyping,Drake’s attempts at cha cha dancing, Ben Carson’s Presidential run, likely tons of other things I’m forgetting and all of us just singing back at Kendrick Lamar that “we gon be alright,” instead of turning up with wholesale social change attached, I think I reached peak Black frustration. Being black in 2015 feels incredibly stupid, frightening, potentially murderous and largely irrelevant to anything of consequence happening in rapidly advancing modern life, and I think I’m done with it.
That’s how Marcus K. Dowling began his piece, “I Don’t Wanna Be Black No More,” on thsppl.com on New Year’s Eve. For everyone looking forward to getting a fresh start in the new year when it came to finances, fitness, love, and careers, black people knew the sad truth about our racial identity, which pretty much consumes all we do: we’d be in a different year, dealing with the same sh-t, and sometimes that sh-t gets tiring.
It’s not that we’d ever want to be another race (well some do, but that’s for an entirely different discussion altogether), it’s just that some days we’d like to return to our corporate jobs on Monday with a set of box braids and not have to answer the question, “oh my god, what’d you do to your hair?!” Or not have to check a white person saying n-gga in a song lyric within ear’s length and then further explain why the rapper can say it and they can’t. Or have to stomach the nerve of a mainstream publication who thinks cultural appropriation is OK allowing a woman to write about #BlackGirlMagic being problematic. Two weeks into 2016 a lot of us are already tired. Maybe not done with being black like Dowling, but tired — defeated even — and struggling to find an answer to that frustration that doesn’t resolve to joining the new black brigade of African Americans so overwhelmed by what’s happening in society they’ve tapped out all together and convinced themselves we’re actually the race problem.
Dowling continued in his piece:
[A]s long as Ta-Nehisi Coates tells me that my Black body will be“destroyed,” being Black in the present day feels like a gift with the worst of curses attached. The idea of being unfathomably successful but also just as easily murder-worthy by those meant to protect and serve me is downright frightening. It’s like, society tells me “here’s money, fame and ‘power,’ but here’s a giant target that we’re going to actually place on your body!” If I can have fame and success, great. But if breathing another day involves me having to trade in my Blackness for the ability to lose what feels like a literal target attached to my body? Well, I’m now at a place where I’m all for making said trade.
Even worse regarding my relationship to my Blackness is the idea that I’m supposed to be angry about the war that’s developing in France, spurred on by largely brown-skinned Muslims retaliating against greater French society. I’m not angry about this for the reasons that I’m supposed to be angry about this, though. Yes, loss of human life is terrible. But when it’s the result of bigotry, “palpabale fear” and right-wing anti-brown person aggression, it’s like, so, that dream of being like Josephine Baker and James Baldwin and heading to Paris to be a happy and rejuvenated Black person isn’t going to happen either…sh-t.
I’m not going to be one of those annoying Black people that decides to be conflicted about my race and suddenly appear to be some race traitor thatdenies his Black heritage. I’m not going to be Tiger Woods and invent being “Cablinasian,” either. I’m also deciding against the idea I posited a year ago that I want to be a White woman. I’ve seen Caitlyn Jenner try, and outside of getting to wear fabulous couture, it looks really hard. Basically, I’m just not going to be actively Black.
There’s a whole universe out there that’s advancing into a future that doesn’t have many Black people in it because Black people are too busy celebrating an already antiquated level of success. As well, Kendrick might tell us that this notion of death creeping into our still largely all-Black ghettos is okay because “we gon be alright,” but when gentrification policies and the police department exist to ensure that’s not the case, I get worried.
In fact, I get so worried that my only recourse is to publicly state that “I don’t wanna be Black no more.”
Can you relate?