The Color of Black

winner

Several news reports have included snippets about the girl who recently won the National Spelling Bee contest. As one source put it: In 96 years of the competition, she’s the first African American to win.

As I read this comment, the question that immediately came to my mind was … WHY must it be pointed out that the winner was African American?

Of course, I knew the answer.

It’s because this country is full of bigots.

From the earliest days of this nation’s history, black people have been viewed as “sub-human.” They have been judged not by their talents … their wisdom … their intelligence. No, they have been judged entirely by the COLOR of their skin!

I recognize this discriminatory judgment has been passed on from generation to generation – and that many who harbor this “anti-black” attitude are simply following in the footsteps of previous family members (particularly those who live in the South). In fact, one could almost say it’s “genetic.” (I suppose I was fortunate in that skin color was never an issue when I was growing up.)

Nevertheless, as I read the news blurb about this young girl, I asked myself … Why did the headline writer feel it necessary to include the words “1st African American”? Why couldn’t the person have simply focused on the fact the winner was a 14-year old girl who is also the holder of 3 basketball world records (quite an accomplishment in itself!). Instead, for whatever reason (HA!), the girl’s heredity was included.

Regrettably, this discriminatory attitude is not going away. In fact, from recent actions within certain states the biased and bigoted mentality is becoming even more predominant.

By the way, let me add that I’m aware that prejudice towards skin color is not limited to the U.S. Nevertheless, this is the country I live in … and such intolerance grieves me.

OK. I’ve said my piece. As always, you are welcome to add your own thoughts. 

51 thoughts on “The Color of Black

  1. The first report I saw of this did emphasize that was a basketball record holder. I’m not sure which news outlet that was.

    For me, what I first saw was the joy of a child in her success.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Why? Because this is the de jour framing we’re being dunked in whether we want to or not. Much like 50 years ago where EVERYTHING was about being a capable female rather than a person, as in, “See? This accomplishment is by a WOMAN!” Well clutch my pearls. Who could have imagined… except every woman and man who were not inherently misogynist. Golly gee whiz.

    In today’s framing, all white people by nature of birth are bigots and racists and inherit the racial guilt of systemic EVERYTHING, as in, “See? This accomplishment is by an African American!” Be still my heart. Who could have imagined… except every person who was not inherently racist. Too bad for you, all you whites.

    So pointing out skin colour is absolutely necessary to fit the ongoing and idiotic racial narrative. Maybe in 50 years it will all be about eye colour.

    Zaila is a remarkable young woman and I would hope people would celebrate not what she represents to suit some imported racial or gender narrative but who she is and her outstanding accomplishments regardless of these asinine accoutrements other people foist on achievers and self appoint them as ‘representatives’ of whatever group they think they are championing. We don’t have that right to co-opt the achievements of another and assign some group narrative to it to make us feel good about our selves. That’s just performative bullshit and not respect.

    By merit, she has earned no less than our respect.

    Liked by 7 people

    • It is true. I don’t think I’ve heard one announcer/commentator who did not add some pronouns and adjectives to identify her. Even the black ones. If the POC are good with that descriptor, then I think the rest of us can get comfortable with people being proud of their race. Black and proud has a pretty good sound to it.

      I’ve two or three books by this black author which I would not have been so anxious to read if he had not been the first black president of the United States. When the first man set foot on the moon, we didn’t call him the ‘first white man’ to step on the moon. The reason being that he was not a member of a race that had suffered generations of slavery, oppression, and rejection that his black counterpart has.

      I’m happy to let the black community set the tone on this. No matter how empathetic I try to be, it doesn’t lessen the pain of being counted a criminal because of skin color. It was many years after the fact that we celebrated the news that it was the mathematic skill of black women who made it possible to land a white man on the moon. When there is an opportunity for recognizing the accomplishments of a black child, I say celebrate. They have climbed a steeper wall than me.

      Way back in the day, the 60s, I grew an afro. I hung with my bros and homies. I tried to adopt all the street language. I tried to be black. Until one day a friend told me, “Check yourself, man. You ain’t never gonna be black. You’re in love with something that doesn’t exist. You don’t even want to be black. You don’t look like a black man, you can’t feel like a black man, and you can’t think like a black man. It is ok to be white, but it ain’t ok to pretend.” They have done quite well without my help. Ah, the growing pains.

      James Baldwin:
      “The value of a human being is never indicated by the color of his skin; the value of a human being is all that I hold sacred; and I know that I do not become better by making another worse. One need not read the New Testament to discover that. One need only read history and look at the world—one need only, in fact, look into one’s own mirror.”
      J. Baldwin
      Glaude Jr., Eddie S. . Begin Again (p. 114). Crown. Kindle Edition

      Liked by 4 people

      • This is the point I was trying to make … recognizing the accomplishments of a black child. WHY must it be a “black child” that we are recognizing?

        Yes, I recognize black people have been ground under the heel of white folk for centuries, but to me, this designation simply adds to the racism that permeates our society. The mention could just as well been part of the closing remarks instead of a headline blasting across the top of the page.

        Liked by 7 people

  3. I’m with you Nan! I’ve asked myself this question many times: why use be define another person, friend, co-worker, etc. as “African American?” Sometimes when people relate stories about other people I may ask them why iot was necessary to describe the person as “your black friend” or “my African American co-worker” etc. I believe this perpetuates our difference to them as “other.” We need to find a way to cease this practice.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. FYI, I have three cousins who are openly and proudly white nationalists. I don”t speak to them at all because last time I did, a fist fight broke out, but my sister does, for some odd reason. I asked her to mention this story to them the next time she speaks to one of them. If she does, I’ll share their answer here with you all. What I admire most about my despicable, idiotic, immoral, idiotic cousins is their total openness about their hatred of groups of people based solely on the color of their skin. Ah, honesty! Where hast thou gone these days, eh?

    Liked by 4 people

  5. There was an in depth story in the San Francisco Chronicle about an Economics Professor at Cal State East Bay (one of the most racially and ethnically diverse areas in the Bay Area) who started obsessing about racial superiority of whites and Asians. What that has to do with economics is unclear. But he would ride his hobby horse in the classes (on economics, not sociology or anything remotely related to race) in his classes. He attended white supremacist conferences, participate in rather questionable groups, etc. Amazing story.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Jump on me if you will, but why cannot we just celebrate that Zaila Avante-garde crossed another colour barrier by winning the National Spelling Bee. Yes, there is racism inherent in the media descriptions, but please do not take the accomplishment away from the young girl. She probably doesn’t care that she is being called black, she lives in a country that makes a big deal about race. And everytime a POC wins something they are not “supposed to win,” it is another arrow in the face of white racists. “See, you’re not the best anymore, so go eat shit.”

    Liked by 3 people

    • You may have been speaking in general, but I had no intentions of taking away the accomplishment from Zaila!

      My point was to illustrate my disgust at the fact the news media needed to include her heredity/color in the headlines! It could have just as easily been mentioned at the end, as a “sidenote.” But nooooo! They had to blast it across the top of the article.

      Your point about it being an arrow in the face of white racists? Surely you jest.

      Liked by 2 people

      • No, I was not joking. They lost another intellectual territory that they thought they owned, that is what I meant. The more areas they lose, especially intellectual ones, the more their superiority complex gets threatened. Al least from my point of view.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I did not think you or anyone else was trying to take anything away from this young lady. I don’t think you or anyone else meant that. We disagree with how the media handled it and whether all the adjectives and pronouns were necessary. I’ve had the same thoughts many times, that we don’t need to identify everyone by color and race.

        We are allies. I watched one of Andrew Joseph Duffer’s videos and the alphabet in identifying gay people. He added a bunch of letters and maybe a number or two. But one of the As was for ‘ally’. We don’t have to be Lesbian, Queer, or Trans to support them we can be an A.

        My neighbors on the left are black. I don’t call them my black neighbors. Just ‘neighbors’ works fine. I bet that’s true with all of us.

        I will not labor the point any further.

        Like

    • Thank you. It’s how I feel; I believe representation is important (people eating sh-t not so much, though I’m plenty human, so thank you for that, too.) It’s a dang shame that it’s necessary, and that young humans can’t win a spelling bee (my favorite sport!) without being identified, but representation is still important in the USA.

      Nan, I love this, and agree with it: >The mention could just as well been part of the closing remarks instead of a headline blasting across the top of the page.< It needs to be featured so that others who need to see themselves do so, but making it the story is off-kilter.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. My first question was … why, in 96 years, is this the first time a Black child has won? There is no doubt in my mind that Black children have always been able to spell just as well as white kids, so … WHY??? Yes, we all know the answer, and isn’t that a damn shame?

    Liked by 3 people

    • There is no doubt in my mind that Black children have always been able to spell just as well as white kids

      Very unlikely. English spelling is difficult and the ability to do it correctly is dependent on education, not innate intelligence. For most of US history blacks have been substantially disadvantaged in educational opportunities. It would be bizarre if this failed to manifest itself in disadvantages in those abilities which depend on education, including spelling.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Nan, you sadly answered you own question – because there are bigots. While it does not seem that way to some as we have stepped back a little, but a key to our success in this country is indeed, diversity. I forgot the source of this statement, but there is more integration of ethnic and racial groups in the US than in other countries. I use the Loving v. Virginia SCOTUS ruling from the 1960s about interracial marriage. SCOTUS was actually ahead of the rest of the country, but now a good percentages of marriages are interracial and such marriages are even used routinely in TV ads to sell products. Interracial marriages (and even interracial same sex couples) are used to sell products.

    So, we have a ways to go and we must not fall back. Let me add one more example. There is African-American doctor named Vivian Thomas who was a co-inventor of a procedure to help blue babies survive. His actions are captured in the movie “Something the Lord Made.” If we don’t provide opportunity to all citizens, it violates the golden rule, our constitution and our success. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, there is more “mingling” of the races in this country over the past several years, but examples like this indicate, at least to me, that we have a VERY long way to go.

      And when one considers the bigotry that’s been displayed in recent days, one wonders if all our progress in this area might end up being for naught.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Nan, I worry as well, but the news covers in much greater proportion the bad news. Negative news has a much larger echo. With that said, we must shine light on bigotry. That is the only way to call it out and tell people it is not right regardless of who does it. At the very least, we can vote with our feet and walk away when bigotry is espoused. Keith

        Liked by 2 people

        • Are you suggesting Keith that we walk away from every news source that championed the African-American headline? That’s where the racism is being exercised in the identification of the group by this one category – race – that this child is being assigned to represent.

          Like

      • It will never be for naught, Nan. For all these comments, the gist is support for Zaila Avant-garde and the black community in general. The new assault on voting, race and sexual identity should have everyone paying attention. In every event in which we see promise for better racial and political progress, a certain segment of society doubles down on their effort to return everything back to a time when white male authority was not questioned. Openly.

        Prior to the sixties, the people of color were mostly standing alone but now we can see that the majority of white people support freedom and equality for all minorities, regardless of religion or politics. We have the kind of coalition now that people like James Baldwin dreamed of. He belonged to the avant-garde and the FBI had the dossier to prove it. The new front of the avant-garde is much wider, and it has the slavers, capitalists, conservatives, and theists very scared. They are now acting through desperation. Desperate people make mistakes.

        Keep the faith.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Your entire comment hinges on your use of the word ‘better’. So it’s entirely appropriate that you end it with what this term means in this context: a faith-based belief. You presume by assumption it’s true. On that assumption rests the issue at hand.

          You have then moved on from your own assumption to – yet again – assume that any criticism of your faith-based belief only belongs only to those slavers, capitalists, conservatives, and theists who are scared and acting out of desperation. Sound familiar? It should. This is how atheists have been treated for a long time, by categorizing anyone who criticizes some faith-based belief to be a Terrible Person and so can be dismissed on this basis. How is your framing any different?

          So my question is what if your faith-based belief is wrong? How would ever know If you have got it wrong? How would you ever know that it is you who is making a terrible mistake in positively framing this regressive and illiberal movement that is unquestionably making our society more racist? Does this mean you must be a scared slaver, a capitalist/conservative/theist (why are those three a pejorative in your mind?) who is desperate? I don’t think so. I think you need to reevaluate what’s really going on here starting with how you are thinking about this… because it sure doesn’t lead anywhere good.

          Like

            • It’s the idea that we are seeing ‘progress’ today that is a belief. It’s NOT better and the evidence is strong that in race and sexual identity what we are seeing is in fact regressive. It’s not better. It’s not progressive. So to blithely claim it is better is an assumption based only on a belief that it is. That’s the faith I’m talking about.

              Furthermore, when that belief is criticized or questioned by legitimate evidence, by facts, by reality, to then be called the worst names BECAUSE one dares to question this illiberal and regressive movement as ‘progress’ when it so obviously is not really is like an atheist criticizing religious belief in the public domain and being labeled as immoral BECAUSE on is not religious!

              So yeah, there’s a legitimate point to be raised here: that what we are seeing is akin to a religious movement where True Believers have taken the reins of power including media and are instituting racist policies, forcing medicine regarding gender identity to be practiced by political ideology, and so on. Not including the group identity marker of ‘African American’ in these media reports I suspect would be met by the charge of racism for NOT including the racial identifier (of all the ridiculous things).

              This is what faith-based belief in action looks like: committing racial framing to appear ‘sensitive’ to race! And to assume this is ‘progress’ addressing racism while name-calling its detractors is right out of the religious handbook.

              Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s because this country is full of bigots.

    Our country is full of piles and piles, crate-loads and crate-loads of all SORTS of aromatic unpleasantries, huh Nan!? 😉

    Nonetheless, to your point here. I grew up in south Dallas, Texas from 1963 to 1981 when I left for college in Jackson, Mississippi. West Oak Cliff to be exact where the ethnic and racial distinctions were all pretty balanced—except for Asian. I had friends of all skin colors my whole youth. None of it mattered in my family household. My parents also had good friends, coworkers and social organizations from a host of backgrounds and family heritages. In fact, I later learned in life after having my own two children and eventually returning to and settling back in the DFW metroplex that both Mom and Dad made a very concerted effort to place my sister and I inside every imaginable social-ethnic activities they could. Now I understand why:

    Being exposed to so much diversity from a young age into our mid-20’s made these type of superficial distinctions you are pointing out here Nan seem natural, second nature, irrelevant (in this context), and never an issue in the least! This caused my sister and I to focus on a person’s character, behavior, and traits which had absolutely NOTHING to do with skin color! You might say that we were all horribly color-blind. 🙂

    Today though? Particularly since Barack Obama was elected President in 2008—whoop-tee-do, right?—and the ripple-effect THAT had on our nation going into 2016-2017, holy effin scheizter Betty-boo, I feel like I’ve been propelled back to the 1840’s, 50’s, and 60’s in the Deep South!!! For awhile I was in shock! And yet, I’ve been FORCED to deal with it and what’s been worse, I’ve been forced to choose sides!!! It has felt like I’m back in middle school steeped in all that bullshit, teenaged insecurity problems where the end of the world is just around the corner! 😵‍💫 Know what I mean?

    I still struggle with being forced to deal with this racial non-sense. I hate it. But… now I’ve learned and struggled with being a passive, silent white-man is ALSO an indirect way of being a concealed racist. Yuk! 😟 So now I’m learning to be an active participant, promoter, and protector of the human race. NOT being a male-version of Chelsea Handler in her revealing Netflix show “Hello, Privilege. It’s Me, Chelsea.” Though I am not in the least bit racist—in voice or action—I’ve learned passive silence is not good enough either. :/

    Liked by 2 people

  10. To feel the necessity, for whatever reason, to mention the achievement of a ”black child” is actually quite shameful and is more an indictment on the education system and also on society in general.

    Liked by 4 people

    • It’s actually racist in that it promotes race to be as important a factor as the achievements themselves. Children don’t need that foisted on them: celebrate what they’ve done, what makes them special and appreciated, and not who they supposedly represent.

      Liked by 5 people

      • I’m watching Joshua Johnson and he is delivering quite a commentary. He uses the same language as the white commentators.
        I just learned that the first spelling bee in the US was won by a 14-year-old Black girl. Black. Female. Booker T. Washington, one of the officials, pointed out in his speech afterward that, “we used the same spelling book that you did and we spelled better.”

        The School Board in New Orleans pulled all white teachers from black schools. It was decided that white children should not have to compete with black children.

        I understand what everyone means when you say that it should not be necessary to identify a person more definitively when we are talking about non-whites. Professor Taboo has said it perfectly and we all know it. Our world is filled with bigots. You are imagining how things should be in the world we desire.

        I was born with exactly zero prejudices. I was born an atheist. Such perfection only lasts a few months. I was raised in the SW region of Virginia. Jesus was one of the first words you learn and pretty soon the N-word. From 1941 to this day, I still have to deal with my prejudices. It is some of the earliest impressions on my little brain. The brain is still little, but strangely, it holds a lot of ..stuff. It may be like a recovering alcoholic; you fight it every day until you beat it out of your psyche. More or less. Someone here said they are not prejudiced. I’m a much better person than I was raised to be, but I am not that pure.

        Now imagine all the people raised like me who accept that life wholeheartedly. And educated people; lawyers, judges, merchants, ministers, and law enforcement. All the people in a position to put their knee on your neck and keep it there. Every black person who rises above the white man’s description of what they are supposed to be should be celebrated. Every one of them should stand before the white world and say. “I did it by your book and I did it better. You didn’t have to compete with me.”

        Liked by 3 people

    • Which may explain in part why 90% of rapid onset gender dysphoria of young girls occurs in homes parented by self-identified Democratic liberals, 88% of who are white. Coincidence?

      Like

  11. Here’s why this ‘belief’ that things are getting ‘better’ is so important today:

    When we see stats that over 40% (and growing each year) of young white women are ‘identifying’ as LGBTQ on various campuses (but almost never the ‘L’), when I see ‘trans’ athletes taking high school podium all the way to Olympic spots from biological females because of ‘feelings’, when I see every medical profession instituting ONLY ‘affirmation’ therapy for pre-teen girls unsure of their identity status but who know the ‘white’, ‘lesbian’, and ‘female’ is the lowest possible social rank and who are sent merrily down a path of various medical interventions not least of which is infertility for life and almost guaranteed and repeated retina detachments, medical professionals in every category handing over prescription pads to children and have schools support only this response in every way possible, seeing biological males ‘feeling’ trans demand legal access – and getting it – to access rape centers and women’s shelters and cell space in women’s prisons, I sincerely and seriously question anyone who thinks these every-expanding expressions of ‘group identity’ constantly supported and promoted by media as ‘respecting’ individuals who represent them, can claim by belief alone that things are getting ‘better’.

    This belief is the assumption that is not only factually wrong but is driving this identity insanity ever deeper into the liberal model of individual respect and – here’s the point – causing growing and real harm to real people in real life with much virtue signaling applause.

    As for those ‘groups’ most harmed? Yup: young white women specifically but women generally as an ‘identifiable group’! Even in the identity world where illogical and self-refuting ideology runs rampant, women are the ones losing the most and are reliably and consistently pushed to fringes whenever this performative idiocy of identity politics is championed as ‘progress’.

    When you see a racial identifier in headlines, you know this is a red flag: you are about to be subject to yet another ideological group identity framing. The only question is: do we ‘better’ understand why this gross distortion of reality reduces individuals to their POC stereotypes and is in action diametrically opposed to Martin Luther King’s civil rights achievements?

    Like

    • Except for your last paragraph, I feel you have strayed from the point of the post. Sure, there’s an overall connection, but as I’ve expressed on several occasions, I prefer folks to stick to the topic and not veer off into “related” issues. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I saw a documentary from the US, that was about a particular murder case. There was a call from a concerned citizen to a “911” who told, that they saw a couple of people fighting in the street. The first thing the dispatcher actually asked from the caller was what race are the people engaged in a fight. The dispatcher did not ask, if the people fighting were armed, was either injured, or what were they wearing, or even if they seemed to be female or male. Instead the demand was for the caller to make a judgement on what “race” did the fighters represent.

    Do the people in the US expect one another to have some innate sense of “race”, so that they can decide from total strangers by a glance, as if from some sort of colour chart what “race” they are supposed to be representing and WHY is that so important?

    Liked by 1 person

    • When steeped in the framework of race and other group identites, it’s no wonder that race becomes front and center. But, as you point out, to what end and at what cost?

      I still think this group framework is guaranteed to make us into all kinds of versions of Us and Them rather than towards the meaning of the unifying motto on the Great Seal: e pluribus unum.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This may be tangential, but I really dislike the whole institution of high-level spelling bees. First, spelling big complicated obscure words is not a skill that people really need to have. When I was young, we could look that stuff up if we needed it, and now spell-check has made that way easier. So the kids participating are spending hours and hours learning this skill whose only purpose is to win spelling bees. I don’t fault schools who realize that there are better ways for kids to spend their instructional time. I like the geography bee much better in this regard, because having a deep knowledge of countries and peoples is much more useful in the long run.

    And secondly, the whole “bee” format is really designed to tear people down. Except for that last winner, every other person’s experience ends in failure. Failure that is very personal and often very public. They’re not out because they tried their hardest and someone was just a little faster, or some such. They’re out because they screwed up. I’d rather encourage kids to be involved in more activities where everyone can have a positive experience.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I don’t know, Nan, but where I come from such qualifiers are almost the norm. For example, it helps to point out inequalities that are sometimes not easily visible or the absence of opportunities. And for a country like yours where there is a history of racial discrimination including sometimes even in access to quality education, to make such a distinction would in my view be important. Someone would use it as a justification to advance a racist trope, but we must so what? Maybe I am totally wrong on this.

    Like

    • You offer good points. However, simply because racism in this country has become so very, very ugly –and black people are being killed primarily due to their skin color– the subject, unfortunately, takes on an entirely different perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Black people are being killed primarily due to their skin colour? What? Where? By whom? Is this greater or lesser for blacks than any other identifiable feature?

        I know most blacks are killed by other blacks and that this has reached new and terrible levels in many US cities since the BLM riots and calls to defund police. I know that far lower than 1% of young black men who die each year are killed by police in the US. I know fewer black people are killed per police encounter than whites. But I don’t know and have never yet come across information that links some epidemic particular to black people being killed primarily due to their skin colour.

        So what’s going on? Why do you believe this? Do you know something in this regard that I’m not aware of? Please… share.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You are most likely correct in that my remark cannot be validated and/or substantiated through any legal or other authoritative means. Nonetheless, black people in this country do get the short end of the stick much more frequently than white folk. And certain individuals in law enforcement are especially prejudiced to the extent that yes, they are much more inclined to “shoot to kill” black law-breakers.

          Curious — have you ever read any articles that describe the conversations that “black folk” have with their children as compared to children in white families?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, and not for a second do I think racism is not a problem when it is exhibited. In Canada, the same racism is expressed towards the indigenous. But I think we’re being sold a bill of goods that simply isn’t true, that racism is systemic when it’s not, that everyone white is de facto racist, that only by reverse racism can ‘progress’ be made. I see all of this unfolding as if it were true and as if there is is only one correct response.

            You know that I think it’s really important – vital, even – that before problems can be addressed and corrected, they have to be correctly identified. What is the problem with racism? The problem arises when race itself is used by official policy as a meaningful characteristic. That by definition is itself a racist outlook. Rather than promote this racist outlook as the only correct solution to addressing racism – let’s call it anti-racism just to muddy the waters – I think understanding what’s true first is the necessary step to correcting for it. And ‘systems’ that implement long term solutions like education, governance, law, and so on – don’t need need to be torn down, don’t need to be overthrown, don’t need to be ‘realigned’, to achieve lasting results that reduces discrimination on the basis of an immutable characteristic. In fact, this is why I have raised the inter-racial marriage example where we have seen a complete reversal in acceptance across our entire society in a mere matter of decades. Our liberal system works to reduce these kinds of discrimination when the fundamental principles are upheld. Those are now deeply threatened not by what’s true but by the kind assumption you have expressed about what you believe is true. Far too many people believe our institutions are the problem when they are not. And that is a HUGE problem when these institutions have been occupied and taken the knee to implement race-based retributive policies in the name of ‘anti-racism’.

            Like

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