Saturday, February 26, 2011
Do You Only Love the Idea of It?
In Thursday’s class we discussed negritude and its essentialist views. Black people are emotional, creative, and intuitive. These qualities were for Aime Cesaire the essence of the black race. This also connected us to similar ideas that are still held today and are manifested on reality television shows like the Bad Girls Club and College Hill. These shows usually do include black females who are aggressive, antagonistic, loud, and proud. Usually they will also be overly sexualized. The black males also may be praised based on their sexual prowess, cool demeanor, or aggressive behavior. Such distinctions concerning the African American character manage to reach the majority of black people today. I feel that these depictions manage to convince our young people that this is how they should act if they are African American or that this is acceptable behavior. I did encounter such behavior often at my high school. It is as if adolescents are especially susceptible to the idea that they, as black people, should display the “essential” qualities of their character at every given opportunity by “being black” and proud of their African American heritage. This tendency for such high school students to desire to “display their blackness” in their heritage is usually accompanied by a nearly complete lack of knowledge or interest in their African American background and history. This is very much of interest of me when considering that the types of behavior perpetuated by this idea usually accompanies a sense of pride and confidence in themselves due to their African American heritage. There were also various jokes falling in line with the essentialist idea concerning the inherent qualities of the black or white soul. For example, a younger black student may have encountered a social situation where, during a conversation with other African American students, they may not have known about a particular fact, person, or situation, that it was considered common knowledge for them to know about within the black community. For instance he or she may not have heard a particular song that had been heavily in circulation for a while so they would then “jokingly” threaten to take away the individual’s “black card” thus putting forth the idea that being African American involves a membership package that apparently includes a card, accompanying characteristics, and a knowledge of all things “black” in pop culture. It seems that some African Americans treasure the idea of being black instead of the actual heritage and history that accompanies the sense of pride in indentifying with that group. I feel that such knowledge and awareness should accompany a person’s link to any cultural group.