December 19, 2018
The Black/White Experience: Who Really Represents or Speaks Up for Black America? Answer: Nobody Can!
By R. Daystrom
I have a rather unique perspective with regards to having an understanding of being Black or White in America. Without actually revealing my age I would like to say I have been around for a little while. This is what I have learned and observed about Black and White race relations during my lifetime.
You see, I am a (Black) Creole. This is the formal definition of a Creole. A person of mixed European and black descent. I am a white descendant of French settlers in Louisiana and other parts of the southern US. Historically the French Creoles dominated Louisiana, even after Spain officially took over the colony in the mid-eighteenth century and some Spanish settled there. The mother tongue of my grandparents and great grandparents was French. I do not speak one bit of French.
When using the street vernacular, I am defined as the following: “to dark to be “White” and to light to be “Black.” As you can imagine this can lead to some personal confusion. Even in current times “Creoles” continue to have the option of either identifying themselves as either White or Black.
In the past if Creole families wanted a better life they would start out by making a minor change to their surname (if their name was Ricard they might change it to Ricardi). As one can imagine many Creoles took the chance and opted for what they thought would be a better life. As a result, they decided to pass as White. I must interject here and say that my family did not make such a choice. The old time Creoles used to call this “Passe Blacnc”. This is a term used by the "French Creoles of Color" in Louisiana that were so light skinned and looked so white that they were called "Passe Blanc" which is French for "Passing White".
Do to the “One drop Rule” (The one-drop rule is a social and legal principle of racial classification that was historically prominent in the United States in the 20th century. It asserted that any person with even one ancestor of black ancestry is considered black.) the White culture in America, unofficially, still continues to implement. I am considered Black.
What White people fail to realize is that there are Black Americans according to the “One Drop Rule” who have become fully integrated into White society. They look White and have internalized White values and are technically classified as Black according to the norms of American society. From time to time I wonder if Whites that communicate their racist views to each other not realizing they maybe actually be talking to a Black American. I wonder what would be going through their minds if they found that out.
I can remember a time when it was socially acceptable to refer to Black Americans as niggers, coloreds, Negroes, Afro-Americans. In my opinion a more accurate term would be “multi-cultural.” Matter of fact “multi-cultural” should be the official description for the entire ethnic makeup of the United States of America. Everybody in America is Multi-cultural if not they soon will be!
The vast majority of people would agree that the institution of abject slavery was and still is a human rights violation. Abject slavery has in an insidious way affected Black Americans in a unique way in this country. When entering this country as slaves. The family unit and their cultural identity was obliterated. They could not use their ethnic heritage as a means of acquiring economic power just like every other immigrant group has done when entering America.To make things crystal clear European immigrants came to this country with their cultural identity and family unit intact.
This is very controversial. It has been suggested among some Black intellectuals in this country that from a psychological perspective the typical Black American does not like themselves. This mental handicap is a remnant of 400 years of abject slavery. If this assessment is even partially true, this indeed is very troubling.
It is safe to say that the average Black American does not have any strong identity ties with Africa. Psychologically Black Americans identify strongly with mainstream White America. White America does not realize this. White America does not realize that from the standpoint of economics, Black America is a reflection of White America. In White America you have the poor, the middle class, and the wealthy. There can be a debate on the numbers in each economic class, we will leave this for a different discussion for another time.
The White mainstream media considered the fourth estate is an oppressive institution. When the mainstream media reports on anything concerning Black Americans, 99.9% of the time it is on the economically poor urban or rural Black Americans. This perpetuates the illusion that Black America is a mono-ethnic and mono socio-economic culture. This is happens to be farthest from the truth.
Whites who have minimal contact with Black American’s assume what they are seeing on TV is the norm. For example, if the White mainstream press focused their attention on poor whites the brainwashed TV viewer would consider the majority of White people to be “hillbillies.” This of course would not be an accurate representation.
When the mainstream media does show financially successful Black Americans, they show those stratospheric wealthy individuals. The filthy rich entertainers. When the average white person sees this, they say to themselves there is no more racism in America. When Barack Obama was elected President this supposedly sealed the deal with regards to the notion that racism is a thing of the past. Unfortunately, racism is still alive and well in the United States of America.
Those middle class and wealthy Black Americans strongly identify with White America rather than with the poor or urban Blacks. For example, when the Obama’s entered the White house you did not see Barack and Michelle with a “corn row” hairstyle, wearing Bling jewelry and showing off their tat’s. Even the Obama’s two daughters did not overtly display the popular urban attire at that time.
It is highly unlikely that you will ever see the likes of General Colin Powell or former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice or other Black Americans of that economic and social stature attend in person a Black Lives Matters protest. They may empathize with the cause, but they would feel somewhat out of place in associating with a lower economic class of Black Americans. These are country club folks.
For lower and some middle-income Black Americans, a big impediment in achieving any kind of economic upward mobility is language. In those communities the African American Vernacular English (AAVE), known less precisely as Black Vernacular, Black English Vernacular (BEV), Black Vernacular English (BVE) or colloquially Ebonics (a controversial term), is the variety of English natively spoken, particularly in urban communities. Black Americans have to realize this is a factor in perpetuating racism in this country. Who wants to hire a Black American who cannot speak standard English?
What is the solution? Protesting is effective only to a point. There must be a strong political and social will to create an egalitarian society that all people of different races, creeds and genders believe is real. In such a society there will be the occasional setbacks but there must “always” be a strong will to do the right thing. This is the driving force to be a better society. It has been said that nothing ever changes, except man. Improve a mechanical device and you may double productivity, but improve man and you gain a thousandfold. All the new legislature in the world will not make a difference in stamping out racism if people refuse to listen to each other and admit to their foible’s.
W. O. Belfield, Jr.