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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Afronerd Commentary-Reflecting on Blackness in America

Perhaps it would be apropos to decipher my concept of American Blackness as we are approximately a week away from the official airing of CNN's Black in America special. I find it interesting that no one can definitively admit (out loud) what they think the essence of being Black entails but one instinctively knows when "the cup runneth over" into the too Black realm. The standard definition subsequent to the pro-Black 60's encompassed the three C's-Culture, Color and Consciousness. And then there is Webster's explanation (an excerpt):

Definition: Black

1. Being of the achromatic color of maximum darkness; having little or no hue owing to absorption of almost all incident light; "black leather jackets"; "as black as coal"; "rich black soil".

2. Of or belonging to a racial group having dark skin especially of sub-Saharan African origin; "a great people--a black people--...injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization"- Martin Luther King Jr.

3. Marked by anger or resentment or hostility; "black looks"; "black words".

4. Stemming from evil characteristics or forces; wicked or dishonorable; "black deeds"; "a black lie"; "his black heart has concocted yet another black deed"; "Darth Vader of the dark side"; "a dark purpose"; "dark undercurrents of ethnic hostility"; "the scheme of some sinister intelligence bent on punishing him"-Thomas Hardy.

5. Offering little or no hope; "the future looked black"; "prospects were bleak"; "Life in the Aran Islands has always been bleak and difficult"- J.M.Synge; "took a dim view of things".

6. (of events) having extremely unfortunate or dire consequences; bringing ruin; "the stock market crashed on Black Friday"; "a calamitous defeat"; "the battle was a disastrous end to a disastrous campaign"; "such doctrines, if true, would be absolutely fatal to my theory"- Charles Darwin; "it is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it"- Douglas MacArthur; "a fateful error".

And of course, for more on Webster's take, click on the link below and scroll down to the "African-American" section of the term, Black-truly a fascinating exercise.

Webster's definition of "Black"

And then there is the famous scene in Spike Lee's Malcolm X, when the subject of a euro-centric definition of Blackness is discussed:

But again, what is Afronerd's take on Blackness and the more broad implications of being Black in America? Blackness in this country represents the perfect maelstrom-a boiling cauldron of brilliance, limitless potential, pain and pathology (my operative word). Blackness is always being discussed, dissected, measured, lambasted, questioned but never truly defined. And the answer may lie in the question-a racial/cultural state of being that is in a constant flux. I would like to believe that Blackness debunks any notions of failure and honors the sacrifices of our ancestors-the belief that survival, pride and uncompromising excellence should be the crux of Black authenticity. Perchance to dream. What is your definition of Blackness in America?

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