Wednesday, June 11, 2014
"We're All Black" Is Not the End of the Conversation!
I see it all the time. When an issue comes up within the Black community that highlights intra-group oppression somebody inevitably says: "At the end of the day we're all Black!" to end the conversation. Another popular line is that "Whites see us all the same!"
Not only is it NOT true that whites see us all the same. But more importantly, it's true that we don't even see each other in the same way. Intra-group oppression exists and is real. Colorism, heterosexism, transphobia, classism, and sexism are real in our communities and it impacts the way we navigate our lives.
We're all Black but Black men are treated differently than Black women. We're all Black but dark skinned people are treated differently than light skinned people. We're all Black but heterosexual Black folks are treated differently than LGBTQIA Black folks. We're all Black but poor Black folks are treated differently than the middle class.
So when "we're all Black" is used as a conversation finisher it perpetuates systematic inequality and oppression. It's not unlike how these same Black folks wouldn't like it and would consider it a micro-aggression if a white person said: "At the end of the day we all bleed red!" to avoid discussing white privilege and racism.
Colorism, heterosexism, transphobia, classism, and sexism are real issues within the Black community. These issues work inter-sectionally with racism but are important on their own accord. And it's no less than violence to deny it by claiming that only race plays into how we are treated. It is violence because it prevents activism which would alleviate these other forms of oppression.
The lie that only race matters or that race is the primary concern comes from a anti-racist narrative that has been molded mainly by middle class cis heterosexual Black men. And for this group it is true that only race matters. For the rest of us: not so much.
And let's be honest about it and stop silencing each other by saying "we're all Black."