Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Published 9:30 AM by with 0 comment

My Racial Identity: How I Became Proud to Be Black

Peace Fam!

Ok, so last week I received some praise and also some flak from many folks because I supported Raven Symone’s stance on defining herself as an “American” vs “African American”. Addressing those who didn’t side with me, the point I was trying to make wasn’t really as deep as many people took it. I simply supported her decision on defining herself rather than accepting a label that society had thrust upon her…especially when she didn’t like society’s label.

Based on some of the responses I received, I felt as if I were being judged. I got the feeling that because I supported Raven’s stance, some people felt that maybe I wasn’t proud of my African roots…probably because I made a somewhat facetious statement saying that I’d rather be called an “American of African Descent” rather than being called “African American”.

The two terms are basically the same thing. However, I made my statement to prove a point that you can call yourself whatever you want. Like I said previously, a rose by any other name is still a rose. I also stated that over the years, I’ve grown more accustomed to calling myself “Black” rather than “African American”, and not for any particular reason. It's not because I'm denying my African heritage. It's just because I've grown accustomed to my "Blackness". I tend to look past all of the negative connotations of the word “Black” because for most of my life, everything that I considered “Black” was (and still is) BEAUTIFUL!

So, please tell Kanye not to call me out by saying “Markie B doesn’t care for African Americans!” Because I do!! I really do!! LOL

Seriously, the whole Raven Symone discussion got me to start thinking about racial identity and from where one gets it...from where I got mine. I believe it comes, in part, from our experiences in life. Further, I believe that much of it comes from everyone’s first line of defense against the world – your parents (or guardians) and the environment in which you live. I believe that your parents are the ones who pretty much prep you for most of life’s experiences (albeit based on their own experiences).

For me and my environment, all I remember (from a child through adolescence) was seeing images that painted African Americans in a very positive light. From prose (like Zora Neale Hurston) to poetry (like Langston Hughes) to music (like Grover Washington, Jr.) to art (like Ernie Barnes), etc., Black was always beautiful!! From my beautiful mother to my handsome father to my dearly departed sister to my fine brothers! Black was and continues to be Beautiful!

I used to flip through books in my home and learn of things that I didn’t learn in school. I learned of powerful kings and queens who looked like me. I learned of scholars, writers, artists, doctors, scientists, businessmen, musicians, and a plethora of other great people…WHO LOOKED LIKE ME.

You know…I remember an experience that happened to me when I was young. I was in a Social Studies class in Jr. High. We were studying a particular region in Africa, one that I had read about at home. So, as the teacher addressed the class, she referred to the indigenous people of the region as “Drum Beating Savages!” Since the people in the African region had a skin tone similar to mine, think for a minute how that statement may have affected my psyche had I not learned the Real Deal about those indigenous people from the books in my home.

That’s one of the reasons why I loved my parents so much. They are the reasons why I became proud to be Black. They helped to instill a great pride in me for people who look like me; and not to believe the negative hype that society had formed against us in many cases. Despite the negative things that I’ve heard from different folks from around the world about Black people, I’ve seen a people with a rich history that led to the development of much of modern day society.

So, suffice it to say…I Love Me Some Black people and I mean it from the heart! I have an abundance of love for EVERYONE; but there’s a special place in my heart for Black folks. We’ve been through a lot and we have overcome a lot of challenges, not only in this country but also all over the world. Yet, we are still here; and a great many of us are doing great things!

Personally, I know that our future rests in the hands of our youth. I’m going to remain steadfast in my quest to get more young folks of color to view Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) as “Cool”! I want to see more people of color in STEAM disciplines doing phenomenal things!

I challenge everyone out there to pick a field that you love and share that love with a young person in hopes that they do something positive with their lives...especially young folks who need some positive influences in their lives and an uplift in their self-esteem!

One Love! 
Markie B aka DJ Scientific


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