Also, Pro-Black is STILL anti-white.
Like just about any other self-loving, socially aware Black person on the planet, I’ve been getting my life from Solange’s epic, Blackity-Black album, A Seat At the Table, since it came out a few weeks ago. It wonderfully outlines so many different parts of a Black experience in ‘Murica. Not to mention, it gave me newfound respect for Master P. However, there was one track that I found to be a bit of a hiccup: “Tina Taught Me (Interlude).”
For the most part, it’s cool. You have Tina outlining how she’s always recognized the greatness, beauty and magic of being Black. It also speaks well of the self-affirming mindset she instilled in her two daughters. However, for me, she goes left with a couple of statements. First:
Because you celebrate Black culture does not mean that you don’t like white culture
Before I address any of this, I’ll clarify that Miss Tina is absolutely not even in the ballpark of being canceled. This is the woman who gave us Beyonce & Solange…and she’s pretty awesome in her own right. Also, I don’t even necessarily find her words all that destructive…just misguided. And that’s fair, because thinking there’s a “white culture” (or even that whiteness and Blackness don’t work in direct contrast to each other) is a common misconception. So I just wanna be clear that there’s absolutely no ill intent towards her in this piece.
With all of that said, we need to be clear: there’s no such thing as “white culture.” I believe that a lot of this misconception exists because we collectively do a poor job of properly defining race vs ethnicity and often conflate the two. I think, when people say “white culture,” they’re really thinking more about respective European cultures, such as German or Swedish or Italian or French…but that’s ethnic culture, not racial.
Where ethnicity is based on a national connection and/or geographic location, race is just a social construct. It’s loosely defined and can be arbitrarily changed for any reason (and it has been). It should be common knowledge, by now, that at one point, the Irish and Italians weren’t considered white. They had to assimilate into whiteness (by throwing Black folks under the bus). Additionally, people of Middle Eastern/Arab descent are also technically classified as white, and, well…LOL.
Therefore, race can’t be conflated with ethnicity, because (for example) not all white people are German. Therefore, German culture doesn’t apply to everyone. Never mind that non-white people can also be German by virtue of living there.
With all that being said, there’s really not much culture to be found based purely on whiteness, in and of itself. Black people have a culture that was built, largely out of the oppression that we’ve historically experience from whiteness. We identify with our race, specifically because we’ve always been oppressed for it…this is something what white people, at a systemic level, know nothing about. As a social construct, whiteness is specifically built and maintained on oppression of non-white people. That’s it…nothing more. Anything that white people have ever attained, culturally, has been primarily through adopting it from distinctive European cultures*, or from appropriating People of Color. Culturally, nothing as ever been born, distinctly from whiteness.
…unless we wanna count burning crosses, white hoods, and white supremacy, in general, as “white culture”…because that’s where the most substantial “contributions” of white people, specifically, have come from. ☕
*(Granted, even with European cultures, there’s plenty of argument to be made that much of those were also built on the oppression and/or appropriation of Black & Brown people…but I’ll leave that can of worms shut)
Additionally, she lost me with the following statement:
…it really saddens me when we’re not allowed to express that pride in being Black, and that if you do, then it’s considered anti-white. No! You just Pro-Black. And that’s okay. The two don’t go together.
…nah. The two absolutely go together and they directly offset each other.
As I’ve said in my previous piece on the matter of Pro-Blackness being anti-white, I do believe Black folks who try to claim the contrary are doing so with their heart in the right place. They’re being of peace and love when they say it (which I also have my problems with, but again…separate topic). I also believe that they haven’t properly unlearned the conventional ways that we’re misinformed about how race actually works in this country (i.e. the previous point on Race vs. Ethnicity). We have to look at race more from a systemic level than interpersonal. The very essence of whiteness is being oppressive to Blackness…the construct of race was literally built on that. Therefore, any act of resistance from Black folks (whether it be pride/self-love, protest, violence, etc.) will work against whiteness. Because of this, Pro-Black is absolutely anti-white.
Ultimately, saying things like “Being Pro-Black doesn’t mean that you’re anti-white” is respectability and “apologetic” Blackness…which is in direct contrast of the rest an otherwise unapologetic album.
P.S. Credit to my gurl Elle for putting it in my head to write this out into a blog post. Because this has lowkey been sitting on my spirit since the day the album came out. lol