Blackness is so much more than skin tone. In fact, skin tone plays little-to-no role in what makes a person black. In our society, to be black means to have features that resemble African phenotypes. This includes features such as a wide nose, big lips, coily hair, etc. If blackness is only about skin tone, then Huey Newton, Angela Davis, and even Malcolm X would not be considered black because of their complexions. However, that is not the case because, despite their light skin, they were still obviously black. The only difference between these people and people like me is that both of their parents were black, but I only have one black parent. Since white supremacy has no knowledge of family background, it would be silly to argue that we’d have different experiences. Also, unless I missed the distribution day, I have yet to receive my half of white privilege.
I used to be so adamant about not being black. I thought that it was absolutely oppressive and barbaric that I was forced to “choose one box” when filling out my information for various applications. I felt better than and more special than black people. I even began to start an organization designed to “explore the uniqueness of the biracial identity.” When I was 17, my eyes opened, or maybe they were forced open. I started to see people who looked just like me being murdered by the police, given life sentences for non-violent offenses, or being mocked in the media. I realized that it wasn’t just a coincidence that every time I went to a store I was followed by an employee. I realized that comments about my wide nose, big lips, and nappy hair weren’t just anti-me, they were anti-black. I realized that in school I was accused of plagiarism not because I wrote well, but because I wrote well for a black boy. I realized that I would have been a slave too. Most importantly, I realized that my mother’s whiteness didn’t save me from white supremacy. Upon reflection, I began to understand that my denial of blackness was because I subconsciously saw black as inferior, and because I’m closer to my mother than I am my father. Today, I am more than proud to say that I am black. Surprisingly, this didn’t cause any sort of disconnect with my mother. I recognize that I am a part of her, but at the same time I also recognize that I’ll have different life experiences because of my blackness.
With that being said, as light-skinned black people, we must understand that the we do have certain privileges over our dark-skinned brothers and sisters. For example, because the standard of beauty is associated with the proximity to whiteness, we have the privilege of being seen as more beautiful, even though this is completely arbitrary and nonsensical. Acknowledging these privileges should not separate us as a people because we are still united by the very essence of our blackness.
Be black and be proud.