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Twitter Reacts to BlackLoveDoc’s Shortage of Dark Skinned Women in Promotional Video




#BlackLoveDoc returns to OWN on September 5th, and they’re being dragged through the Twitterverse because of their promotional video, which dark-skinned women are largely unaccounted for. 

If you’re unfamiliar with what #BlackLoveDoc is, it’s a docuseries where a collection of black couples—queer and hetero—have discussions about love on camera. 

The promotional video sparked a debate about colorism. One Twitter user replied, “When I say that ‘Black love’ is nothing more than a lie this is what I mean. The women had to pass a paper bag test to even get the so-called ‘Black love.’ This is why I’m [a] firm believer in Black women opening their options and dating the right person for them regardless of race.”

Whoever runs #BlackLoveDoc’s Twitter account, probably Gayle King, replied: “Hey Ella! We agree. This is why we show Black men and women of all shades in loving relationships – we even show them in relationships with someone who isn’t Black Flushed face And some folks are mad. It sucks. But we [still] show US being loved. Because that’s what matters.”

Bad response to being called out for colorism. Surely a billionaire like Oprah can afford better social media editors and public relations training for her staff. 

Enjoy these tweets of #BlackLoveDoc’s promo getting dragged:



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“I Still Know What You Did Last Summer: Pandemic, Pride, and HIV Afterlives”




by Jatella Jordan

Atlanta Black Pride began as a picnic. 

Once upon a time in 1996, “a small group of African American lesbian and gay friends held a picnic over Labor Day weekend to celebrate their unique experience in Atlanta’s LGBT community. Each year, the group grew with others from the community and neighboring cities.” This swelling group would become the non-profit, volunteer-led 501(c)3 organization, In The Life Atlanta (ITLA). As a founding party to the International Federation of Black Prides, ITLA annually hosts upwards of 100,000 Black queer people in Atlanta, Georgia–comandeering almost every major club, the entire metro area, and, the city’s heartbeat, Piedmont park. 

Atlanta Black Pride is the largest pride event dedicated to Blackqueer people in the World. 

Of course, everyone who attends is not affiliated with ITLA, nor is every event held in the name of Atlanta Black Pride on Labor Day weekend engineered with the consultation or even knowledge of ITLA. However, I find it imperative to properly situate what can be considered a kind of Blackqueer Hajj into the larger, historical context of the “Black (gay) Mecca”. 

As I write this, cases of COVID-19 and resultant deaths are on a relative decline in Georgia. Yesterday, September 4, 63 people died; ten less than the number who died the day before on September 3. There were 2,066 cases discovered yesterday as well, which in comparison to the 2,675 found the day before seems like progress–seems. 

Either unwittingly or out of sheer moral dereliction, Blackqueer people have, nonetheless, crowded the concrete corridors of downtown Atlanta in the name of “Pride”. Fulton County, in which Atlanta resides, has the most cases of any county in Georgia with 25,540 confirmed cases to date. Footage from inside clubs packed passed capacity proliferated Black twitter. Bodies move as if welded together; the building heaves as it holds them–constricted and ecstatic. Sweat and swisher-soaked shirts find their way up over heads, tucked into jeans or draped across clavicles, couches. Tongues untied touch, mouths unmasked meet. Exhales no longer waited; they breathe each other in, eliding every edict to distance. Under these conditions, death is imminent, intimate.

In 2018, WSB-TV reported that, according to Emory University’s Center of AIDS research, HIV infections had reached “epidemic” proportions for Blacks in Atlanta, with every 1 in 51 Black people at risk of diagnosis. 42% of new HIV diagnoses in the country in the same year were among adult and adolescent Black people. Black queer men–the demographic majority of Atlanta Black Pride, I must add–make up for 37% of new diagnoses among all queer men in the United States. 

One of the very few things known about COVID-19 is that it disproportionately impacts the already immunocompromised–the Elderly, the infantile, the asthmatic, the seropositive. Hence, it would seem to behoove the Blackqueer attendants of Atlanta Black Pride–who by no means nor stretch of the imagination are solely responsible for the intracommunal increase of HIV diagnoses nor by majority, themselves, seropositive–to be vigilant, not simply about their own health but about the health of their larger community. Put differently, Atlanta Black Pride 2020 seems blissfully ignorant of, not merely this current historical moment but, moreso, itself; its attendees–against the backdrop of 5,000+ deaths, 263,000 cases and counting, impending eviction crises, mass unemployment, abolitionist unrest–begin to appear almost morally bereft. 

I’d be remiss if I did not mention that most of the event fliers appeal to cisheteronormative cultural appetites with well-oiled and scantily clad, light skin men/mascs who titillate the impoverished desirability politics of its viewers. Consequently, thin, conventionally desirable, cisgendered, homonormative Black men get to feel most hailed and at home. This may possibly clarify why it looks to be the case that, for Atlanta Black Pride and her benefactors, the pandemic is not to be taken seriously; to whom/what do cisgay men ever feel accountable? 

On the other hand: it is, however, simply empirically untenable, outright false to assert or even suggest that Black cisgay men are the only Blackqueer folks present for Pride. Anything else would be or border erasure. This, then, raises an even more harrowing question: for whom/what is the Blackqueer responsible? If cases rise in Atlanta post-Pride, even if only within Blackqueer commons, are Blackqueer people, even partially, responsible? Who is the onus on to defend Blackqueer life or stave off Blackqueer death and dying? 

Cultural historian Saidiya Hartman, in her trailblazing monograph Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-making in Nineteenth Century America, looks at the Black codes and Freedmans’ Bureau handbooks to illuminate how postbellum America incorporated recently emancipated slaves through liberal ideologies of consent, responsibility, and culpability. The “ex-”Slave demonstrated their appreciation for emancipation through self-mastery, discipline, and hard work. After 400+ years of free labor, idleness and lethargy in the Black was shamed and eschewed as “the body no longer harnessed by chains or governed by the whip was instead tethered by the weight of conscience, duty, and obligation,” writes Hartman. In a constant performance of ethical sophistication and proper conduct, Black bodies were ushered into a more modern regime of servitude in which they would perpetually genuflect to the behavioral dictates of the State and its White majority in always already foreclosed attempts at making good on the promises of manumission: national incorporation, sociopsychic recognition, juridical protection, and legal equality. To be irresponsible–meaning both without anything to be responsible for (property for instance) or to be accessed as negligent vis-a-vis what one is supposed to be responsible with (personhood and other persons)–was to be unfit for freedom. 

Under these on-going conditions, the Blackqueer remains precluded from recognizably responsible behavior at least insofar as Blackqueerness yet marks the racially abject and sexually deviant imposition on and threat to the very notion of the public and every concept of the proper, good, and socially acceptable on which it relies. Stuart Hall’s Policing the Crisis, Michael Warner’s Publics and Counterpublics, and Saidiya Hartman’s Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments come into chorus beautifully on this point. Blackqueer responsibility is a misnomer because Blackqueer propriety is impossible. As Hartman further advised in 1997, the Blackqueer is the constitutive outside of citizen-subjectivity, or the Blackqueer is only a political subject to the extent to which it is criminally culpable. The Blackqueer capacity for responsibility, within a legico-juridical order to which it has no place or legitimate claim, is always a precondition for Blackqueer criminality. 

The Blackqueer is ontologically ir/responsible: at once, made to be responsible for their own bio-political damnation and irresponsible with their ever-pending redemption. “Sin is Negro as virtue is white,” writes Frantz Fanon in Black Skin, White Masks. “All those white men in a group, guns in their hands, cannot be wrong. I am guilty. I do not know of what, but I know that I am no good.” 

What might it mean to understand Blackqueerness as the refusal of the politics of the proper? What if the politic of Blackqueerness is to dispossess itself of the proper, which is to say the appropriate and the “responsible”, which is to say place and/in state? Can we look at the refusal to be withheld from each other as that dispossessory politic? Maybe getting together is the only or originary politic of the dispossessed; those dispossessed, first, of the very possibility to get together. If what poet-philosopher Fred Moten reminds us is true, if “we get together to fight,” can we see within all the fighting, the “fighting to maintain our capacity to get together”? Must we be responsible for the conditions that coproduce our constriction and our ecstasy? Whither might Blackqueer rage and release be permitted? What would it look like to shift the penologic of responsibility back on the “authors of devastation,” whose “innocence,” Baldwin tells us “constitutes the crime.” 

Before the U.S. government decided to rescue Wall Street from COVID-induced collapse, it refused to democratize access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis while defunding the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. Blackqueer people, particularly in Atlanta, have long occupied a state of [non-]emergency, with nothing to show for it besides a well-lit stadium and a Mayor with Bottoms for a last name. Therefore, when we ask Blackqueer people to be “responsible” for their contribution to the pandemic, be held accountable for COVID’s role in community, we must first ask how “responsibility” itself is a request for a comportment that consents to the current medico-juridical paradigm that engineers Blackqueer death–both, premature and belated. Blackqueer riskiness, ethical irresponsibility, was not why HIV/AIDS became an epidemic and, in the same way, it will not be why COVID-19 never loosens its grip. A government that capitalizes off of catastrophe; that chooses profits over people; who–right before entering a $1.95 Billion deal with Pharmaceutical company Pfizer and biotechnology company BioNTech, a $2.1 billion deal with French pharmaceutical company Sanofi and British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline–allowed the ban on evictions to expire, permitted schools to reopen, began disseminating “back to work” plans, and “phasing-out” travel restrictions: the U.S. government will always, in every instance, be responsible for the rise of coronavirus and its asymmetrical presence in Blackqueer and poor communities. 

Furthermore, if to be Blackqueer is to lose the right to one’s own body or the right to own one’s body; if Blackqueer bodies are always “public texts”, as Karla Holloway might suggest, then we must take into our analysis how Blackqueerness has been written into the general political body, the hegemonic commonsense, the collective unconscious as, in itself, a biological threat, as negrophobogenic as Fanon later puts it, as sheer pathogen. This discursive-material conceptualization–Blackqueer systematic vulnerability to disease/death conterminous with disease/death as the universal sign of Blackqueerness—rebuffs performative concealment or “proper posture”. There is nothing the Blackqueer person can do to not be a figure of epidemiological scandal. The Blackqueer is the ghost of every pandemic. The Blackqueer occupies the political role of bioterrorist, in advance. Borrowing a Hartmanian locution: this is what it means to live as the afterlife of HIV. 

Still there is the very real risk of acquiring (and dying by) COVID. The lives of Blackqueer folks, disproportionately immunocompromised and/as disabled, hang in the balance. Their vulnerability to death seems eclipsed–as it is already more generally–by an intracommunal propensity to play with precarity. There is no question that a dearth in political attention to the Blackqueer disabled structures Blackqueer responses (or lack thereof) to the pandemic. Yet, I want to suggest that play can also be a Blackqueer disabled response. I want to suggest that Blackqueer disabled folks attended Atlanta Black Pride, against their best self-interest and though it might not be an ethics to universalize, it is not a politic to minimize. Amidst the ongoing War on AIDS, Blackqueer lifeworlds–crowded nightclubs, dilapidated bathhouses, un/protected penetrations—become articulations of summers refusing to be stolen, bodies refusing to behave, backs going unbent. Blackqueer folks–disabled and otherwise–engage in risk irreducible to the apolitical or asinine. There is a politics present in Blackqueer folks’ refusal of the ways precarity precludes play. If we think about the war on AIDS as war on the Blackqueer disabled/immunocompromised, how might Blackqueer disability always entail the negotiations of play and precarity; how might those negotiations proliferate to unforeseen, counterintuitive and counterproductive ends? A politics of Blackqueer commons might also look like where touch persisted, when pleasure insisted under the pressure of pandemic and antiBlack public, especially as the difference loses all distinction, especially since “we have nothing to lose but our chains.”



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For The Culture

Cori Bush Snatches The Missouri Primary From 19-year Incumbent William Lacy Clay




A little positive political news is coming our way. Cori Bush, who’s running for Congress in Missouri has snatched the primary vote from Lacy Clay, who has held the seat for 19 years. For the past 50 years, the Clay family has held the seat. Today, Cori ends that streak.

Of importance is that Cori is not only a Black woman, but one of the better-known organizers for Black Lives Matter. The Congressional Black Caucus was very vocal about their disapproval of her “radical” stances, but it seems their clucking has meant absolutely nothing to the final result. She punctuated her victory with a simple tweet:

Boom! Haha. Ya girl has sass. I’ll remind you all that she was one of those protesting for our lives at Ferguson and has lead her public life with a raised fist ever since.



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For The Culture

I’m Not Like One of You Lil Negroes, I’m Mixed





If we’re being honest, I filter out the area on my Jack’d to say Black and Multi-racial. The only reason why I have to add “multi-racial” is because I might miss a couple of negroes. Search up any city/town in the country with the mixed filter and you will find dozens of Black men’s profiles. Now multiply these accounts times every city to conceptualize the magnitude of this occurrence. It has made me ask myself, what would compel Black queer men to deliberately chose multi-racial as an identifier? Like yes, I know mixed people come in all complexions, but blackness is this country and throughout the Americas has never been about “purity” and that no matter the hue, if you are visibly of African descent, you are Black. Visible blackness is paramount when discussing racialization. Historically, having recognizable semblance of African admixture thanks to the one drop rule determined who is and isn’t Black. This also serves as a reminder that just about ALL descendants of chattel slavery are “mixed” anyway. None of us are 100% African because of centuries of nonblack sexual violence and interracial unions. So to be honest, we all have admixture on this side of the diaspora, yet blackness is still socialized as to be inclusive to those who are technically mixed. It seems as though that there’s an undertone of “I’m not just of African ancestry” when Black people say that they’re mixed. However, africaness and blackness are two different things; africaness relates to nation, whereas blackness is purely regarding race.

And once again, I’m fully aware that people can be biracial/mixed and be of many different complexions blah blah blah, but socialization doesn’t care about DNA. Frankly, no one is walking around with their Ancestry .com results plastered on their foreheads. It’s all about the optics, what you present to the world matters most. Being phenotypically Black, but choosing to identify as mixed race is questionable. Not to mention that these people do not have a mixed race experience. We’re talking about unambiguous Black folk here and I’m 100% positive that the people in question are not perceived as anything other than Black. Take this into account, Rapper Logic stated that he does not understand why J Cole has considerable frustrations with white people being that they’re both biracial. However, Logic is white and navigates through the world with white privilege despite being half Black. J Cole is visibly Black and has a completely different racialized experience, one that Logic does not understand. Like I’m sorry (not really) but mixed and Black aren’t synonymous. I know there’s people that may want that because associating blackness with being mixed is literally the only way people can actually like being Black. A lot of Black people want to live vicariously through racially ambiguous people (curly hair, lighter skin, light eyes, smaller facial features etc). “Good hair” and “pretty/colored eyes” are governed by proximal nonblackness, using nonblackness as a benchmark to hold Black features up against. Seemingly, people can only love blackness as long as it’s the furthest thing away from Black as reasonably possible. 

So what would motivate unambiguous Black queer men on dating apps to make a deviation betwixt them and blackness? They should really be asking themselves that, but I need answers and quickly!

A part of the issue boils down to anti black desirability politics; it would be obtuse to think that many Black people aren’t aware of social hierarchies regarding complexion, identity and desirability. That many Black people are fully aware of how colorism and anti blackness work. Now how they chose to process that varies, but sometimes the effects of colonization show up in how people chose to identify. Surely, racial ambiguity, biracialness and mixed race-ness have always been associated positively. The perception is that mixed race people are more smart, valuable, attractive and special. And because these anti black notions are relational, the perception of mixed race speacialness is joint with the idea that blackness and Black features are uninteresting and “regular.” Truthfully the further you are away from blackness and the closer you are to nonblackness, allows you to be perceived by Black people as a romantic prize. Colorism and anti blackness is literally socialized on a global scale, and these systems very much inform people’s “pReFRaNCE”. Let’s face it, the Black community drools over anything light-skinned, thin/gym bodied and cisgender. Surely, these people are choosing an identity that they feel is going to give them a leg up in this very anti black dating arena. The social currency that mixedness brings within the Black community enitces unambiguous Black queer men to market themselves outside of who they are. To address this conundrum, we must examine the historical racialization of blackness if we want to contextualize self-identification on dating apps. We must acknowledge that the self identification of unambiguous Black queer men on these apps represent the residual effects of colonization/chattel slavery on a micro level. And as micro this may be, it speaks to ambidexterity, multiplicity, and pervasiveness of global anti blackness

Blackness Under the Jurisdiction of White Supremacy: A Brief History

“And it is that trauma that has crept its way through the pores of and into the DNA of many descendants of slavery”

Two free women of color and their Black servant in the French Caribbean. Painting by Agostino Brunias

The mass rapings of enslaved African women enacted by white men during the trans atlantic slave trade and chattel slavery produced populations of biracial Black people throughout the Americas. Although most were enslaved, some were able to access freedom and/or resources because of their proximity to whiteness (nonblackness). Certainly the power to racialize entire populations fell under the jurisdiction of white supremacy, the United States, Mexico, Jamaica, Haiti, Domincan Republic, Brazil, and Cuba aimed to recognize differences between those who were considered negro and those who were considered mulatto. Despite the fact that anti blackness always placed anyone with African admixture at the bottom of social hierarchies, mixed-race people historically aimed to distance themselves from those who were considered monoracially Black.

In colonial Puerto Rico, Black people were able to escape blackness if they could prove that they were at least a quarter European. Gracias al sacar, a law implemented on the island literally translates to “thanks to take out.” Notice that celebratory language is used to describe the legalities of transcending blackness; that choosing to opt out of blackness would be a celebration. In Jamaica, free people of color (who were mostly mulattoes and quadroons) were observed to have a sense of pride for being distinct from monoracial Black people. Surely their identities required anti-blackness for empowerment and meaning. It was also noted that free people of color were able to own, torture and rape enslaved Black Jamaicans. Often, the mulatto/quadroon overseers and slave owners were even more barbaric than their white counterparts. In Brazil, one didn’t have to be a mulatto or a quadroon as a prerequisite for potential freedom. In fact, Many monoracial Black slave catchers and owners were legally recognized as white although they may have been born as slaves. Astonishingly, monoracial Black (legally White) punishers could perform whiteness through their ability to enact tremendous violence against Black Enslaved people. The purpose was to maintain white supremacy within the Black community. It also solidified the reality that whiteness serves as an agent of danger, horror and violence against Black people. Let’s be clear, these Black people made the choice to identify as nonblack, they wanted to perform nonblackness.

A Black Brazilian performs Whiteness(nonblackness) as they whip a Black slave

In the U.S, specifically in Louisiana, free people of color or gens de couleur also distinguished themselves from the overall Black population. They understood that they could never be white and acquire the privileges of whiteness, but they can leverage proximal nonblackness to attain resources and economic opportunity. Unsurprisingly, gen de couleurs were also able to have Black servants. Eventually many gen de couleurs would form their own ethnicity as creoles of color, priding themselves with having African, european and Indigenous ancestry. Creoles of color had the ability to participate in anti blackness and deny monoracial Black people from their spaces using the brown paper bag test. Influenced by the divisive practices from the creoles of color, many institutions, schools, clubs and organizations throughout the United States that were run by Black people utilized the brown paper bag test to exclude brown skinned and dark skinned Black people. Those who were biracial or triracial had an automatic advantage as they would most often be light skinned. These practices perpetuated the notion that being mixed-race and unambiguous{ly Black} was different than being monoracial and unambiguous{ly Black}. Although by “law”, these light and mixed only spaces were occupied by negroes, they certainly did not want to identify as such. And with unambiguous monoracial Black people observing the advantages of being phenotypically in closer proximity to nonblackness, many would also try to distance themselves from blackness.

Early Black organizations featured only light skinned/biracial folk

In a contemporary sense, many diasporic Black people stay away from identifying as Black. While Colombia has a strong Black presence, many Black Colombians will use terms like costeño (coastal dweller), moreno (dark skinned), gente de libres (free people), and pardo (mixed race), which are all terms associated with Black people and African ancestry, but does not hold the same racial stigmatization. Many Black Dominicans do the same thing, using terms like mulatto, indio (Indigenous) and trigeño (Black, Indigenous and white). Many visibly Black Brazilians would commonly identify as pardo instead of preto (Black). And as we see, the United States is no different, when given the opportunity, many Black people will choose to identify as mixed or even Indigenous before Black. This also explains why there is a collective of Black folk who think we’re not the descendants of west Africans, but instead indigenous to the Americas. But that’s a different topic for another article chile.

The legacy of chattel slavery still persist and its affects can be shown in how peoples of substantial African ancestry chose to identify. Centuries of hatred, violence, torture, and disposal of Black peoples left many descendants of slavery ashamed of who they are. Rather than looking at our history at the angle of survivorship and triumph, many feel like the horrors of slavery is a badge of shame and condemnation. It is evident that many cannot fully reconcile with the trauma of slavery. And it is that trauma that has crept its way through the pores of and into the DNA of many descendants of slavery. 

Here’s a painting depicting Mexico’s racial caste system. It is purposefully designed to be read from left to right. Left boxes are the most privileged and the right boxes are the least. Notice how these identities are created in their relation to whiteness, for ex. there isn’t a name for “negro” and “indio” admixture.

Texas Bamas

With this history, we can now contextualize the many contemporary cultural references that reify the idea that Black and mixed are two different things. When Beyonce said “mix that negro with that creole” implies that the two are distinctly different and that she is something completely new. Beyonce also has a song called Creole where she says “exoctically tempting…  So all my yellow bones/red bones/ brown bones get on the floor, mix it up and call it creole… Bad bad yellow bone/red bone/ brown bone.” These lyrics are obviously excluding dark skinned people which aligns with the history of the formation (no pun intended) of the creole identity. Young rapper Miss Mulatto uses the pejorative colonial word “mulatto” as her stage name. Keisha Cole swore up and down that she was biracial until proven otherwise. When asked how she felt about Black Girls Rock, her first words were “true, true i’m biracial.” It’s almost as if she found being called Black offensive. Bow Wow said he can’t relate to civil rights because he’s mixed and that he is absolutely not Black. Wacka Flocka also made a comment similar, stating that he’s not African American at all, but instead Cherokee, european and a little bit of Dominican… i-

A lot of people don’t know the difference between race, ethnicity and nationality

The whole entire show Mixedish separates itself from blackness. I think we’re all fully aware that biracial people have a slightly different experience than monoracial Black people. However, if they are not nonblack passing they are still socialized/racialized as Black people. A common narrative amongst some biracial Black people is that they were made to feel like they are not Black enough. Given this reality for some biracial folk, wouldn’t the show Mixedish be considered divisive, aren’t we all Black? Why make Blackish and Mixedish two separate shows? When dark skinned and brown skinned Black people talk about colorism, immediately the assumption is that they are being divisive. But Beyonce, Bow wow, Wacka Flocka, Keisha Cole, and many others get to identify as nonblack as visible Black people, but never get called divisive. Highlighting anti-blackness and colorism as the motivation behind why people identify as mixed might be considered divisive in the Black community, but someone actually declaring an identity other than Black isn’t, see how this works?

The Conduit of Mixedness

“It is this internalized anti blackness that allows nonblacks to be initiated into Black culture, which accelerates appropriation and our subsequent erasure”

Now my question then becomes, are unambiguous Black people who identify as mixed allowed to participate freely in black culture and community? Can they even say the N word? These questions are rhetorical because obviously they can since they are in fact black, but i’ve often wondered what their response would be if they were challenged with those questions.  Why do we allow people to dibble and dabble into blackness? One reason why it is difficult to gatekeep blackness is because there are Black people who don’t want to be Black and don’t like blackness; they would try to include nonblacks into blackness so that they can feel better about their own blackness. That’s why some Black people latch on to American indigeneity (ABOS niggas), mixed race-ness or they call racially ambiguous people like Bruno Mars, Kehlani, or Cardi B Black. It is this internalized anti blackness that allows nonblacks to be initiated into Black culture, which accelerates appropriation and our subsequent erasure.

Kehlani has called Kamaiyah “ghetto” and “uncultured”

 It is necessary for us to gatekeep our blackness because the same way unambiguous Black people are using mixedness as a conduit into nonblackness, nonblack people are using mixedness as their conduit into blackness. Keep in mind that the conduit only works for nonblack people, because unambiguous Black people are always going to be perpetually Black even if they try to latch on to “mixedness” to escape blackness. Only nonblack people can utilize the conduit of mixedness to their advantage. Think Rachel Dolazal, a white woman who was validated as Black, but no Black person EVER can be validated as white. This proves disastrous because it means that our identity is not ours, but in fact for the taking of all nonblack people.

Many nonblack latinxs would try to latch on to the Afro-latinx identity to infiltrate blackness. They would try to use their nationality/ethnicity as a racial filler to say that they’re Black, in the same way some Black folk will use nationality/ethnicity as a racial filler to be in proximity to “other.” The perception of being foreign also adds another layer to this phenomenon as it suggest that being a Black American is boring or regular. This is why you hear comments like “I’m Dominican and Black.” On the flip side, you’ll have nonblack latinx folk saying “i’m Dominican” or “I’m *inserts nationality” as a way to claim blackness. It is only through the conduit of mixedness that allows nonblack and Black folks to move in and out of Blackness through self identification. Gina Rodriguez called herself an Afro-latina only after she got called out for being an anti-black racist. Evelyn Lozada also pulled the same stunt; nonblack Latinx understand that they can utilize the one-drop rule to identify as Black so that they won’t get held accountable for their anti-black racism.

Rachel Dolezal

In a new online phenomenon nonblack people, specifically women, are engaging in what’s called blackfishing. The look that these women are aiming for is that of the the racially ambiguous looking person or Black person with considerable proximal nonblackness. Because think about it, why would these women want to look like unambiguous Black women with afro centric features? There isn’t as much social currency in regards to the physical aesthetic of phenotypically afrocentric Black women, unless it’s on a nonblack person. Certainly these women are trying to posses a look that would to appeal to cis Black men. They understand that the ambiguous phenotype is elevated in the Black community, especially if it’s sitting on feminine presenting people. It is important to note that these women need the existence and hatred of Black womanhood as a reference point for their blackface. Without colorism in the Black community, these women would have no reason to blackfish. Perhaps these nonblack women have the desire to parasitize off of Blackness just like their slave holding ancestors as a compounding motivation. Kim Kardashian, Nikita Dragun, and Bad Bhabie are celebrity examples of nonblack people obsessing over not just blackness, but the blackness that looks closest to them. As we know, these antics are anti-black and align with the violent history of appropriation, erasure and extermination of Black peoples. This is why it is extremely important to gatekeep blackness and not allow people to jump in and out of it as they please. We should not see our blackness as a costume, or a resource for nonblack people to use for their personal gain. We have to be very clear at defining contemporary blackness. Those who are easily identifiable in that they have visible sub-saharan African ancestry are Black. The second we start to question their race, they are not, fast math.

What is There to Gain?

“Mixed” perceived people and biracial people can be awarded confidence, self esteem (because of the devaluation of dark skin) grace, sympathy, redemption, support and a romantic partner within the Black community.”

While we know that during colonial times being biracial or perceived as mixed gave you systemic advantages over monoracial Black people, it is evident that this reality still holds true today. Everything from casting calls where mixed people are preferred, to activism “mixed” and biracial Black people are able to catapult themselves in spaces monoracial Black people cannot. We know that colorism is systemic and advantages lighter skinned Black people in every aspect of this society. Colorism isn’t about “light skin vs dark skin, house slave field slave” belief, as Kenya Berris and many other celebrities like to perpetuate. It wasn’t created by Willie Lynch because he isn’t real….Amandla Seales.  East/south Asia and Africa are rampant with colorism, but there was no chattel slavery. Colorism is merely a product of white supremacy that says that the lighter you are the more human you are. This means that you are safer, smarter, more approachable, more likeable, unthreatening and desirable. It is a system that sets darkness (blackness) as the antithesis of humanity. With this, we can see that there are intra community ways where we as Black people perpetuate colorism and elevate Biracial Black people. It is not a coincident that certain voices are amplified past others, why people are more inclined to listen to Angela Davis, Yara Shahidi, Amandla Seals, Shaun King (who is white but says he’s Black), Colin Kaepernick, Amandla Stenberg, Zendaya Coleman, and Barack Obama. Although all of these people are Black, apart from Shaun, they are able to be perceived as more likeable and trusting. Simply, people prefer their Black activism from those who are considered desirable (thin, light and cis).

Shaun King has been able to leverage a huge following and social clout as a white man, who identifies as biracial. His work includes making money disappear that was raised after acts of anti black violence and participating in misogynoir.

Recall the harsh anit-black ridicule Blue Ivy got when the public saw that she was a little Black girl, instead of the racially ambiguous person they thought she was going to be. Blue Ivy was called ugly and routinely critiqued because of her hair and facial features. The public attributed “ugliness” to Blue Ivy’s afro features and that the blackness that showed up on Blue Ivy is inherently unsightly and manly. That entire event highlighted the fact that colorism, texturism and transphobia are inextricably linked. North West (biracial with loose textured hair and light skin) never experienced that type of blatant anti blackness and ungendering. Let’s also discuss how the Black community treats Azealia Banks versus how they treat Cardi B. Both have a history of antics and problematic tirades, but only Cardi B is able to have redemption. If Cardi B shows an inkling of knowledge she gets resounding praise. Cardi B’s racial ambiguity allows her to still be likeable despite being boldly problematic. Azealia Banks routinely calls out anti-blackness and exposes the issues in the music industry, but instead is ignored and called “crazy.” We can see that there are tangible resources that can be had if one is perceived as “mixed” or biracial. Outside of the systemic gains of colorism, “mixed” perceived people and biracial people can be awarded confidence, self esteem (because of the devaluation of dark skin) grace, sympathy, redemption, support and a romantic partner within the Black community.

Azealia Banks calling out colorism on the TV show Wild’n Out

Mixed-raceness and Desireability

“These men want to appeal to other Black men because they know that is what many Black men prefer”

When Cyn Santana went on an interview and said that Black men cater to (nonblack) Latinas, Angela Yee (biracial Black woman) jokingly says “you know the Black girls gone come at you.” If Angela truly identified as Black, why did she separate herself from Black women? Is she not one of the Black women Cyn Santana could have offended? Youtuber Biannca Damien (the one who enacted Blackface to make fun of dark skinned Black women, and got upset that her child came out with brown eyes instead of light eyes. She also scoffed at the idea that her child might be dark skinned) made a video with fellow colorist Queen Naija where they reacted to a video of their boyfriends playing smash or pass. One of their boyfriends said smash to a darker skinned black woman, and Bianca’s response was “I thought he didn’t like Black girls.” Clearly Bianca doesn’t see herself or Queen Naija as Black and that they use their “mixedness” and proximal nonblackness to leverage themselves above dark skinned and brown skinned monoracial Black women. This speaks to the larger phenomenon of lighter skinned Black people who’s entire self esteem, self worth and value is predicated on the affliction and hatred of dark skin/blackness. Just like the Jamaican people of color and the gen de couleurs of Louisiana, their proximal nonblackness gives them a sense of ego and superiority over darker skinned Black people. Such people need dark/brown skinned Black people to societally remain at the bottom because only then will their self worth can be actualized.

Many racially ambiguous people are au courant with anti blackness and that their phenotype holds privilege as shown in this picture

Suely we can observe the preference for racial ambiguity in terms of desirability within the Black community. Musicians such as Kendrick Lamar, Lil Uzi, Tyler the Creator, YG, Childish Gambino, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Lil Wayne, Fabolous, G Herbo, and Yung Dolph have made songs uplifting specifically “mixed” women. Overwhelmingly, a lot of  hip hop music videos feature only lighter skinned or racially ambiguous/nonblack women. Many cishet Black men seem as though they have an infatuation with Biracial Black people or a “mixed race” aesthetic. Jahleel Addae made a toast to “light skin kids” at a table with Black men and their White wives. Kenya Berris’ entire franchise centers Biracial Blackness and always positions biracial women at the center of desirability. Cis queer men are no different, with many instagram accounts representing queer Black love as either two light/racially ambiguous people or one light/racially ambiguous person and a masc presenting dark skin person. The Black queer community continually uplifts individuals who fit the “mixed race” aesthetic. The anti black desireability politics that favors “mixed raceness” coupled with internalized anti blackness and Black shame due to the legacy of slavery, motivates unambiguous Black queer men to identify as multi racial on dating apps. These men want to appeal to other Black men because they know that is what many Black men “prefer.”

lets bring this full circle, “cheers to light skin kids, gracias al sacar and this painting from colonial Brazil by Modesto Brocos all have one thing in common. It speaks to the desire of many diasporic Black people to be nonblack. So when Black queer men identify as mixed-race, does it demonstrate their desire to be nonblack?

What next?

We know that now and even historically, blackness has always been at the bottom of every social hierarchy and with this, we cannot divorce anti blackness from conventional beauty standards and desirability. Black queer men being cognizant of this reality, sometimes chose to either buy into their own fetishization (calling their body parts BBC becuase without this stereotype they would promptly get looked over) or market themselves as nonblack/mixed. Unambiguous Black queer men identifying as mixed and multi-racial may seem minor, but it speaks to a very real history of the violence and oppression of monoracial Black people. They are also perpetuating the idea that blackness alone, cannot possibly be desirable. Understand that their action comes at the expense of blackness, as it always has. Black people as a whole have never benefited from other Black people distancing themselves, it has always come with terror and violence. It’s an allegiance to global anti-blackness.

Observing Dark skinned feminine presenting fat people, trans people, and cis people and see how they have figured out a way to love and embrace their blackness outside of what it is constructed to be, outside of the constructions of the anti black nonblack gaze, is remarkable. That despite fatphobia, transphobia, sexism, and femmephobia coupled with colorism, dark skinned fems remarkably found ways to love themselves seemingly out of thin air; how to love themselves without using the cushion of another person’s marginalization. Understand that this process takes years and is extremely difficult, but it is absolutely possible. We must acknowledge that there is a possibility of self love and reclamation thanks to the courageous acts of resilience from dark skinned fems. We can only hope that Black people who are infatuated with “mixedness” detach value from nonblackness and embrace every inch of who they are. They should not fall for the temptation of using nonblackness as a mechanism to escape their own self hate. To embrace blackness in its totality and love the history, culture, aesthetic and most importantly the people, can surely encourage other Black people to do the same. It’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to be kiki, but the rewards of moving out of internalized anti-blackness creates new paths in the horizon for ALL of us. This action must take place if we want to propel forward in a promising direction. Otherwise, Black people will pay the price globally for the dis-allegiance of those who prioritize nonblackness.




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