There is a trendy discussion/debate going on among so-called “conscious” circles (for lack of a more accurate term) about whether we, victims of white supremacy who are classified as “Black” in America, should continue to refer to ourselves as “Black” or “African American”, or should we modify or completely change how we refer to ourselves. There are many who say that simply claiming “Black” is limiting and inaccurate. Some of these people who are driving this debate claim to be “Moors”, and there are also some who claim to be “indigenous American” (or something else of that sort), but this debate seems to be more ubiquitous the more people are exposed to some of the more fringe ideologies within the loose configuration of non-white/Black people who make up the so-called “conscious community”. Recently, while listening to a program that I regularly listen to, I heard a caller discuss this topic, and in expressing his opinion he seemed to take the side that we should not continue to refer to ourselves as “Black”. His rationale, I kid you not, was that he was looking at his work boots at the moment in which he was speaking, and his work boots are the color “black”. Since his skin tone does not match his work boots, and since he personally cannot track a member of his familial lineage to the continent of Afrika, that he and other Black people should stop using the terms “Black” and “African American” to refer to ourselves, and instead should refer to ourselves as “copper colored” and/or “indigenous”. While I respect his right to his opinion, as he, as a victim of white supremacy has victims guaranteed qualification (VGQ) to say or think whatever he wants about his own victimization, whether he sees himself as a victim or not, I believe this idea to be wildly inaccurate and frankly irrelevant in regard to the real life situation concerning Black people under the system of racism/white supremacy. It is also, in my view, ultimately very non-constructive toward the goal of eliminating white supremacy, which I would assume is also his goal (perhaps to my detriment), being as though the program which he called into has the singular stated mission of being centered around that goal.
There is a popular YouTube pundit who goes by the name of Professor Black Truth who recently had a video which he opined that victims of racism/white supremacy classified as Black often have the problem of “majoring in the minors”. This phrase, the way he describes and discusses it, means that Black people tend to focus time and energy on frivolous details and non-constructive arguments to sidetrack the conversation and ultimately to, perhaps subconsciously, halt progress in order to avoid from keeping focused on what should be the real goal, facing racism/white supremacy in the interest of totally destroying it. In his video, he cites an example where in one of his previous videos he mentions in passing the Europeans who are referred to and have been widely accepted as “Jewish” in order to make a larger point. In the comment section of this video essay, rather than to constructively discuss the liberation-centric content offered by PBT in the video in which Jews were not the main topic of discussion, the commenters spent valuable time and mental energy debating who the “real Jews” are, as if that changes his point, or even really matters in the point he was attempting to make. I personally concur with this sentiment of Black people having a very negative habit of engaging in these silly arguments, as I often say that victims of white supremacy, as a result of our severe victimization, and perhaps fear, like to pretend to be confused or uncertain about things that really are not that confusing, or at least I would not consider them to be so, in order to justify our inaction in handling the most important task of our lifetime, eliminating white supremacy.
The currently popular debate about what Black people should call ourselves falls directly into this category of “majoring in the minors”. This argument, in my view, is another example of Professor Black Truth’s point. Arguing and debating among ourselves about what we should label ourselves is easy. Truth be told it is a debate in which the only people who are interested in engaging are fellow victims within the so-called pro-Black/conscious/counter-racist bubble, and a debate that in reality holds very little “real world” consequence, other than showing off the ability to out-”woke” someone else within that bubble. But taking on the challenge of trying to eliminate white supremacy so that we can make whatever labels that we make for ourselves actually stick, and have real currency in which we can make everyone, including non-Black people who are not tuned into the conscious bubble, respect our self-applied labels is very difficult, perhaps the most difficult thing that we as non-white/Black people can do. White Europeans who have adopted the label of “Jewish” for themselves have acquired enough social, political and economic clout to make and/or force people to respect their self-proclaimed “Jewish-ness”, regardless of the facts of who the “real Jews” are. Have people classified as Black gained enough social, political and economic clout to force our enemies, or even persuade the masses of other Black people to refer to ourselves as “copper colored indigenous” or whatever, and to respect the rights of those who claim that designation? Clearly, we have not, and will not as long as we are under current conditions.
To be frank, I’m not sure what the constructive reason is for debating about what we should classify ourselves as under the system of racism/white supremacy, a system where whites make the rules, a system where the white supremacists are ultimately in charge of the classifications, and a system that whites have invented for the purposes of practicing racism against those who have been classified as non-white, with special enmity for those who they classify as Black. We as Black people, victims of racism/white supremacy, can massage our egos and try to make ourselves feel better with these sorts of debates about whether we should refer to ourselves as “Moorish”, “copper-colored indigenous”, or whatever other newfangled term that we come up with, ad-nauseum. But does any of that matter when we are stopped by Officer O’Malley? I think not. We can see by researching the murder of departed fellow victim Korryn Gaines (RIP), at the hands of so called law enforcement about how much any of that matters when confronted by white supremacist race soldiers. According to reports, Gaines attempted to invoke her so-called rights as a “sovereign citizen”, a movement that is usually associated with the Moors, while being questioned and detained by a race soldier. Clearly, the race soldiers who murdered her did not respect her claim because they, under the system of racism/white supremacy that they are duty-bound to “protect and serve”, are simply not obligated to respect such claims by non-white/Black victims of that system. Whatever we decide to call ourselves, the only classification that really matters under the system of racism/white supremacy for Black people is the classification that has been forced upon us by the white supremacists, the people with the power, the people whose classifications really matter. That classification is the classification of “n—–“.
The whole point is to shed the forced and imposed classification of “n—–”, and that can only be done by keeping our eye on the prize, and that prize is the total and complete demolition of the system of racism/white supremacy. For the record, I personally have no problem with good ol’ “Black” used to describe me. For all of the historical pain and oppression that those classified as Black have been subjected to worldwide, I personally have never desired to be, or to be called anything else. “Black” is totally fine with me regardless of whether those who fall under this classification like myself are literally the color black or not. Many whites are not actually the color “white” either, but they, once again, have enough social, political and economic clout to make “white” mean something due to the system that they have set up to put “whiteness” on a social pedestal. And they will not, under any circumstances, let go of that designation, and the perks that go with that designation willingly, for any reason. They have too much riding on the designation of being “white” to do that. Which brings up another question; if being classified as “Black” wasn’t historically and currently so closely associated with pain, oppression, enslavement, mistreatment and being dominated by those classified as “white”, and rather represented supremacy and dominance like being classified as “white” does, would people classified as “Black” be in such a hurry to distance themselves from “Blackness”? Logic would say that most would not. The point should not be to distance ourselves from “Blackness”, as under the system of racism/white supremacy, that is an exercise in futility. We are “Black” if we are classified as such by whites, whether we like it or not. The point is to eliminate racism/white supremacy, so that we can have the social, economic and political power to then call ourselves whatever we want. But the hard work must come first, and the frivolous debates that in my view mean nothing under current conditions must be put on the back burner.
Osei, 21st Century Race Man