“I aint watching no EBT Awards!” “They so ratchet!” Hardly any regularly broadcasted event exposes levels of anti-blackness quite like the BET Awards. It's like people have competitions to see who can talk worse about the celebration of black music. People will fall over themselves to cape for a white woman in black face (Rachel Dolezal, in case you don’t know. Google her; I’m not talking about her anymore) but when real, full blooded black people are gathering it is entirely too “classless”’ for their tastes. I call utter and complete bullshit on that. No BET and its programming aren’t perfect but just be honest; that’s not why most people don’t like them. They don’t wanna be associated with other black people. It's anti-blackness, full stop.
Anti-blackness is a phenomenon I’ve been talking about for a while now. In simple terms, it's an aversion to anything having to do with black people because you think that no good can come from it and you fear that you will be regarded as bad by associating with blackness. Predictably, it's all wrapped up in respectability politics and is a very large part of racism. Now, because people who aren't overt racists and even people of color can be anti-black, this can come in many different flavors. You'll have people who hate black people all together (your classic original recipe racists), the ones who tolerate blackness but secretly donate to cop bail funds (diet racists), the ones who secretly love blackness but can't or won't admit it (your mystery flavor racists) and my personal least favorite: the ones who only love blackness when its all nice and respectable (imitation flavor racists). What most all of these expressions of anti-blackness have in common is that hate when black people break out and do things on their own, especially when it doesn't line up with what they think it should be. These are the people who think HBCUs have no purpose, won't support black businesses, and only teach the sanitized forms of black history. Anti-blackness is so rampant that even the people who are technically affected by it turn around and practice it. Why else would the Dominican Republic be kicking out all the same people who fought for their freedom?
You’re probably saying to yourself “Well what are you saying, Marcus? Are we supposed to just love everything that black people do? Do we ignore what BET does and what black people do that is actually bad?” Of course not. I mean BET let Robin Thicke tribute Smokey Robinson. There are no words for the amount of wrong there. What I am saying is that too often we hate anything having to do with black for no reason other than it's black. We have been taught from our youth that black = bad and we are doing a great job of keeping that belief going. It would never occur to us to watch BET even though they have at least some good programming. We have been taught to hate ourselves for so long it comes as second nature to us. It's why we spend nearly all of our energy now excusing why current events are happening by saying "They deserved it" and "Yeah that's bad, but.." more than the white people are.
“Wait, what are you talking about Marcus. What do current events have to do with anti-blackness?” Everything. Even outside of the blatant examples I talked about earlier we see a pattern of anti-blackness in our day to day lives. Why do you think even the black police officers are convinced that black people are the most violent people in the world despite all the evidence to the contrary? Because they have been convinced that because they are black they are bad. Why do people always say that Serena Williams is so “overwhelmingly dominant” and so “masculine” and “animalistic”? Because Serena’s black skin keeps her from being seen as a woman. Why do people, even our own supposed “leaders” (I’m looking at you Sharpton) tell us to be peaceful, don’t be angry and just keep quiet and pray? Because as black people we don’t get to experience emotions. We don’t get to feel because our blackness makes us inhuman. That is the heart of anti-blackness, its final purpose. Anti-blackness can only function when blackness is lesser; less human, less good, less beautiful, less right, etc. Anti-blackness serves to degrade and dehumanize black people and everything about them, starting with something as simple as their expressions of art until it creeps all the way up to their expressions of emotion.
We have to stop anti-blackness at all those levels. When we ourselves degrade blackness and don't see it as anything worth preserving or protecting, we make it easier for us to ignore when it's threatened. If we grow up thinking "I don't care about black superheroes; I got Superman!" and "Who cares that 106 & Park is gone; TRL was better anyway!" it doesn't take long for that to become "Who cares that an HBCU is being closed, this school is better anyway!" and "Who cares that we're not reading more black authors; these authors write much better!". This internalized belief compounds until we are saying "Who cares that that thug got shot; he was probably doing something wrong anyway!" Anti-blackness can easily grow and evolve until you're moving from "imitation racism" to full blown "original recipe racism" and the next thing you know you're Clayton Bigsby. It may seem like a stretch to say that, but we all know how powerful indoctrination is. We must break the indoctrination of anti-blackness and love, support and accept the various forms of blackness, and understand that it exists without a need for white validation. That is what our awards shows, our media, our communities are all about.
And that’s why I will continue to watch and support the BET Awards, the Soul Train Awards, the Trumpet Awards, the BET Honors, Black Girls Rock, the Image Awards, the Hip-Hop Awards, and all the other awards shows that show the polylithic nature of blackness (polylithic is the opposite of monolithic and may or may not be a word I made up). Not to mention, something beautiful happens when we centralize blackness. I mean, you can't see Monique dance to Beyonce, Patti Labelle sing with two HBCU choirs, a tribute to the women of the Civil Rights Movement, or a live performance of THE human jukebox himself, Doug E Fresh with a heart full of anti-blackness. How can you hate the culture that provides things like that and so, so much more? How can you not want to defend the people who created it? The reason why so few black people want to defend themselves from brutality, racism, and other forms of abuse is because deep down they don't see their value, and even believe they deserve it. In a time where blackness is hunted, abused, misused and squashed our self worth is vitally important. We have to love on ourselves, support ourselves and uplift ALL aspects of blackness if we want ANY aspect of it to be free. #BlackLivesMatter, but so do black schools, black businesses, black musicians, black media and black culture in general. No one is gonna value that but black people, and it’s high time we did it. If that means not turning my nose up at the "EBT Awards" and finding the good in it instead of dwelling on the bad, then I'm prepared to do it. Are you?
Do you find yourself competing for the "Anti-Blackness Award"? When was the last time you sat down an enjoyed a book, TV show, movie, awards show, song, album or anything else that centralized blackness? Leave your questions, comments, and concerns below and don't forget to like, share and subscribe!