Being Black in America

Cherish Janelle Smith, IUP

If you are a Black person in America right now, it is common to feel as though the world is against you. Black individuals have a hard time feeling at ease in a country that constantly alienates them from the rest of society: Society does a good job of highlighting people’s differences, and deeming them outcasts. This causes one to feel displaced, and never fully grow to love and accept the world around them.

I love being a black person. I love America. I joined the United States Army to show my will of love and protection for this country. At times, I believe that I am choosing to protect a country that would not do the same for me, a black woman.

How can America show more acceptance of Black people? Isn’t appropriating the black culture an illustration of the world’s love for black existence? Doesn’t one month and one lesson on black history a year suffice for their years of oppression? Or, should blacks be grateful that America has granted them a stay on this land of the free?

Today, there is a high representation of Blacks in the United States Army, accounting for about 25%.

Throughout history, Blacks have fought in wars alongside their oppressors and received nothing in return. It is baffling that Blacks have made so many contributions to the development of America and continue to feel estranged. Instead, we must constantly face institutional oppression. This form of systematic oppression is carried out, enforced, and supported by the institutions’ set up by society.

Blacks are often treated as second-class citizens, dehumanized, and are not appointed the same privileges as others.

 Civil Rights Demonstrators 

Civil Rights Demonstrators 

Blacks often become the representative of all Blacks whenever in a white populated area. As if all Black people are the same, which we are not. I have never encountered a situation in which a white person had to act as the spokesperson for their entire race. That notion is completely mind-boggling. No, Blacks are indeed heterogeneous and are equally diverse individuals. Some of us react differently to stimuli than others.

Habitually, the world tries to paint the picture as if Blacks are hyper-sensitive to racism and the social constructs of the world. These social constructs aid in the institutions that were thought to shape America.

The thirteenth amendment to the United States Constitution was thought to abolish slavery. Although, this Amendment did not abolish slavery, and instead presented slavery in a modern-day form: People whom were once called slaves are now called criminals.

The United States has one of the largest prison systems in the world and is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Of those individuals within the prison system, black males account for about 50% of the prison population. This is quite astounding due to black males accounting for about 6% of the U.S. population.

Blacks use fewer drugs than whites, however, Blacks are arrested about three times more for drug possession. This mass incarceration strategy targets the black population within the U.S. It uses institutions to segregate Blacks. Consequently, these institutions of society form a societal bias against the entire Black population.

Crime and poverty are at the focal point of many urban areas due to social and economic isolation. They are both concentrated geographically to areas with limited sources of income (i.e. lack of employment/jobs).

There is a consistent unequal opportunity race between Blacks and whites. Whites have an unfair advantage in society, and Blacks have to constantly perform hurdles over obstacles that whites have not encountered.

It is beneficial for these social constructs to stay in place. One must observe the way in which America continues to enforce these social constructs (i.e. use of authority). In addition, the media plays a critical role in the state in the world. They influence people by spotlighting certain individuals and perpetuating different stereotypes. Indirectly, the media shows how they are seen by the world and it shows how the world expects Blacks to behave.

Blacks are misrepresented in the media: They are the most victimized and highly-favored minority group. In many ways, the mainstream media easily paints the picture of Blacks being a burden to the world. Many studies have shown that news outlets only show Blacks when relating to crimes and omitting them from non-violent stories.

Growing up, you are unknowingly taught a social class. In early adolescence, the world teaches you that dark is bad. For instance, if you were watching a cartoon with disparate characters, good and bad, the bad character always had a darker complexion than the good character. This unconsciously enables one to associate dark skin with inferiority.

European colonialism in Africa left the strong impact of color stratification. The idea that fair skin was superior to darker shades was used to rationalize the way in which Blacks were (are) treated.

 Police brutality protesters 

Police brutality protesters 

Black people did not ask to be born black. In fact, no one asks to be born. Black people are simply loving themselves, in spite of the notions of the world to discontinue doing so.

For the world to disparage Blacks so much, it sure does loves black culture. Blacks have influenced all aspects of modern life: agriculture, entertainment, family-care, fashion, food, music, technology, terminology, etc.

Every culture has traditions that have a longstanding history of the culture. Appropriators of a culture are typically unfamiliar with the traditional historical contexts. Blacks pride themselves in their culture and it is insulting when it becomes appropriated against. It is also insulting that many of the things that Blacks were once belittled and teased about are things that others are paying for today (body enhancements, hair, skin, tan, etc.).

The problem(s) associated with appropriation: the fact that appropriators are often praised by the media and people of the like. This is the same media that once ridiculed and mocked individuals for taking part in their own culture. Furthermore, credit is often not appointed to the appropriation.

Accepting black culture while not accepting Blacks within that culture is far too common.

Everyone has their own dislikes, whether one chooses to be ignorant in judgment is solely up to them.

African-American history is overlooked and belittled. We are taught that unless you are a part of a fair skinned genocide, you do not matter. This is evident of the historical lessons of the Holocaust. This point in history is seen as the pinnacle of disaster and horror done to an entire race. Startling enough, America has enslaved millions of Africans, publicly killed them, and continuously tells us to forget that it never happened. Or, to get over it. It is quite funny that when many Holocaust survivors asked for a form of reparation from France, the U.S. stepped in and assisted them. However, Blacks simply ask for acceptance and to stop being oppressed here at home in America, and we are not granted with that.

In America, we are taught that to be Black in America it is a crime. The segregation of Blacks in America today is more sinister than the times of the Civil Rights movement. Society uses bias and systematic oppression to continuously oppress Blacks. The society also uses the law to implement superiority: Blacks are penalized to a greater extent for similar crimes committed by whites.

Unlike other permeable cultures, Black culture is thick in its native fabric and it remains through the withering of time. So many obstacles have been thrown in the way of Black individuals, and they still find a way to excel. This is why I will always respect the dedication, determination, grit, perseverance, and strength of a Black person, opposed to any other.





13th. Dir. Ava Marie DuVernay. Perf. Melina Abdullah, Michelle Alexander, Cory Booker, Delores Canales. Kandoo Films, 2016. Netflix.