It’s extremely difficult to articulate how rapid things are changing around us but there’s no doubt we’re in the thick of a paradigm shift. We can all feel it, we see it as it’s happening but when it boils down to it, capturing the essence of a technologically driven world is easier said than done. Before you can process how you truly feel about something, unbiased, it’s time to fake give a fuck about the next thing. But truth has always been a collective moral compass or at least it was supposed to be.
So, as I sit here in my dorm room on this Ivy League campus, I am aware that my identity is perceived as a threat. I am aware that I will be judged by the color of my skin and labeled as dangerous due to common historical fallacies. But there’s one thing I always remember to alleviate this feeling of unease – my blackness has equipped me with the tools necessary to surpass this corrupt societal system and to see the light that lies beyond it all. And for this reason, I can hold my head high without a doubt in my mind.
The last I checked there were more than two races of people in this world, so this not just about black and white, but yet the most abundant people are considered the minority and the complex of the inferiority when in fact we are the majority and the template of creation for all that is considered human existence on this planet. This planet, not this plantation, so when is enough, enough?
As much as I find myself choosing to see myself in other black women, I can truthfully say that I do the same for black men. In fact, the whole black community is expected to see its needs and interests reflected in those issues and needs most relevant to straight black men. Furthermore, as a black woman, I see my survival as entangled with that of black men despite how strained our personal interactions may be. We fight for black men and it’s often unclear or minimal what we, as black women, get in return. This isn’t even meant to be a shady critique but a discussion about choice. With every choice we make to center straight, cis black men in our community politics, we choose to overlook the issues most impacting every other black identity, including black trans women and girls, as well as cis and non-binary black people.
In the rising rift between Trap and conscious rap, the black community is seemingly right in middle of it and made to choose a side, while the whites watch. Inevitably, both styles are going to reflect on the black community even if the rappers themselves are not black. However, I don’t believe this means we have to trade authenticity in for respectability. In a world where the music industry is owned mostly by white moguls that could care less about black bodies, and where division and beef among Blacks is highly profitable…
We, Ethiopians, stereotypically perceive ourselves as a different sect altogether. It is true that we are a longstanding sovereign country, who do not hail colonization in our history, and our great-grand and grandparents have given their lives to make it remain so. But that does not give us an exemption from our Blackness.
If we were to get rid of rap and hip-hop music, would the greater black community be better off, and placed on equal footing with our Caucasian counterparts, who, as a group, head the socioeconomic totem pole? Obviously not. Thus, largely invalidating Rivera’s thesis. However, would eliminating violent lyrics from the music consumed by so many black youth, some of whom are at a high risk of joining gangs due to their location and socioeconomic status, benefit the black community? Perhaps. However, only perhaps.
At some point in my life, I experienced a…shift. There was an undercurrent. Perhaps that’s the best way to describe it. There was a shift in my behavior and ideology that was so slight, so gradual that it was able to fly under my radar. I found myself feeling a lot more self-conscious in certain situations. I felt more insecure around certain groups of people. It felt like a loss of control.
This isn’t a review of the film. I’m just here to express gratitude for the film’s villain, Erik Killmonger. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m thankful for the villain. Sure, I appreciate Michael B. Jordan just as much as the next girl (yes, God), but no, that’s not why I’m thankful for Killmonger. There’s so much more than meets the eye with this villain, and the presence of such a nuanced character on the silver screen is timely, revolutionary, and necessary.
In spite of these tragedies, black women prevail and still aspire to be in happy and healthy relationships. How many of us however, ask ourselves questions like, who am I? What am I passionate about? What do I believe or not believe in? What are my boundaries? How do I want to contribute to society? I know a lot of people who continuously go through this back and forth limbo of dating and being in relationships without allowing ample time to reflect on the last.