We (black people) are the system, the hard drive infected with systemic, anti-black racism. Our programmers, among other places, work for Google, Facebook, Twitter, Disney, the Democratic Party and the Associated Press.
They tell us what to think and believe. They define our value.
The ideological forefathers of our programmers wired us for free labor. Their descendants rig us for self-destruction.
This column is a follow-up to the piece I wrote Tuesday that explored the significance of comedian Dave Chappelle’s Saturday Night Live screed. A friend who reads all of my work and closely follows the news cycle missed a major point I attempted to make in the Chappelle piece.
The Associated Press’ decision in June to capitalize the “b” in Black is directly tied to the racist ideology of 400 years ago that established dark skin color as a defining, segregating and inferior characteristic in American society.
My friend missed the point because he was unaware of the AP’s decision. He’s a news junkie. He’s constantly reading and sharing the sports, politics and culture news of the day. He hadn’t noticed that the AP’s decision to capitalize the word “Black” had impacted the rest of the mainstream media. It’s now standard procedure for all news outlets to capitalize “Black” and leave all other racial classifications lowercase, including “white.”
With the country still smoldering over George Floyd’s death and white liberals looking for ways to assuage their guilt, the AP used the Texas emancipation holiday “Juneteenth” to announce its tweak to the black hard drive.
“AP’s style is now to capitalize Black in a racial, ethnic or cultural sense,” a statement from the news organization read, “conveying an essential and shared sense of history, identity and community among people who identify as Black, including those in the African diaspora and within Africa. The lowercase black is a color, not a person.”
Trust me, black is a color. It’s not a human being, a person or an all-important defining characteristic. It’s a shade of humanity that has long been weaponized by American bigots to cast a segment of society into a special category devoid of the inalienable rights guaranteed by our constitution.
We (black people) are programmed to prioritize our skin color above all else. We do it out of fear, pride, ignorance and unrecognized manipulation.
If your competitors convince you that your skin color is your most prized asset and characteristic, you shape all your behavior to accentuate that attribute. If your competitors control the perception and definition of your most prized asset and characteristic, then your competitors control your behavior.
Joe Biden, Chelsea Handler, Hollywood TV, movie and music executives, Big Tech and corporate media control the definition of blackness. They tell black comedians, rappers, athletes and celebrities how to act authentically Black.
They have placed skin color at the heart of black identity to ensure that black people showcase Blackness with a capital B over showcasing intelligence, religious faith, love of freedom, commitment to family, work ethic, integrity.
We’re bots — Black Bots. It’s not a coincidence that black people take pride in acting “unapologetically black” or demonstrably black. We’ve been wired to do it. The Unapologetically Black Olympics is hosted daily across social media, and black news organizations gleefully serve as the judges. The winners are awarded buttered biscuits and Uninterrupted podcast contracts.
I’m speaking in general here, but do you think Asian-American parents send their kids off into the world to showcase their skin color or their intelligence? Many Asians consider the term “yellow” a racial slur.
Think it through. LeBron James and other athletes reject being reduced to their chosen profession. That’s an insult. LeBron is #MoreThanAnAthlete. Is he more than black? Is he more than a skin color? Let’s see if he’ll wear a T-shirt #MoreThanBlack.
We (black people) are programmed to demand the very things that undermine our success. We think it’s a sign of progress that the American mainstream media have reduced us to the color of our skin. We think “Black Twitter” is Harriet Tubman’s 21st century underground railroad.
We’re the system, the warehouse for systemic racism. We’ve allowed anti-black racism to be baked into our consciousness. Accepting skin color as our defining characteristic is racist. It was racist 200 years ago when it justified the physical enslavement of black people. It’s racist today when it justifies the mental enslavement of black people.
We have to break free from our programmers. They rile us into an emotional state with fear-based, fake-news narratives and tweak our hard drives with “solutions” that serve them and not us.
Three weeks after George Floyd died, the Associated Press classified black people as an easy-to-identify monolith and stamped a Scarlet Letter B on our foreheads. We applauded the classification and wondered whether the B clashed with our tattoos.
Does the capital B make it less likely for another George Floyd-Derek Chauvin confrontation? Or does it make it more likely for all black people to be seen as George Floyd?
I’m not George Floyd. I’m not Anton Butler either, the cousin I loved who was wrongly killed by Indianapolis sheriffs in 2012. I don’t think I’m better than George or Anton. I’m just different. I made different choices, took advantage of different opportunities. I leaned into the Christian values my grandmother espoused and the Booker T. Washington mindset my father exemplified.
My skin color doesn’t define me. It’s simply the wonderful packaging God chose for me. When people see me and hear my name, I want them to think Christian, American, intelligent and honest. Those are the characteristics I want to define me.
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