I believe these are intertwined and interlocking issues.
Younger AABW’s Curious Choice to Give Their Online Spaces and Conferences Titles Like Breaking Brown, Blogging While Brown, Brown Sistagirls, Etc. Instead of Breaking Black, Blogging While Black, Black Sistagirls, etc.
Please note that I’m not singling out any particular
blogger or writer. There are a lot of
AABW using “Brown” instead of “Black” when giving a title to their
online presence. I’m mentioning these titles as examples of what I’m talking
The labels we choose when describing ourselves say a lot about our levels of consciousness and level of comfort in our own skin. AAs have historically had a tortuous relationship to identity. Our kidnapped ancestors started off self-identifying as members of whatever African ethnic group they were members of. That African tribal identity was deliberately destroyed via mass torture and rape. Despite a few holdouts, such as the founders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (which was founded in 1816), our ancestors abandoned the label “African.”
Instead, most of our ancestors began to self-describe as “Negroes” or “colored.” Until the mid- to late 1960s, to be called “Black” was a slur among most African-Americans. With the exception of the Nation of Islam who referred to AAs as “Asiatic Black men and women.” Unfortunately, hypocrisy tainted their efforts at claiming the label “Black” and reclaiming racial self-respect, which I’ll discuss later in this post. Most of our efforts as reclaiming ethnic and racial self-respect and pride are tainted with hypocrisy. It’s a human frailty, but there are some other poisonous ingredients.
Something has changed over the past decade or so. I’ve noticed that younger AABW are running away from the label “Black” and instead using the term “Brown” in giving titles to their online presences. Up until now, the label “Brown” was claimed by Latinos in the U.S.
For the past three decades, AABM in hip-hop and c/rap have been actively degrading Black womanhood in favor of lighter and Whiter women. This rabidly anti-BW poison has permeated throughout modern AA culture. All these younger women know (and have internalized) is an atmosphere of downright rabid gendered racism. All they know is Black women being openly devalued and degraded by the toxic modern AA culture created by hip-hop and c/rap’s warped values. By contrast, younger AA Black males don’t feel mental pressure to run away from self-describing as “Black men” because their identity as Black males has not been under heavy attack from the AA collective.
AABW in my age group are relatively blessed. We were already teenagers when that hip-hop and c/rap mess started up. By the time hip-hop c/rap emerged, our self-image had already been formed by other, mostly healthier cultural influences. Unlike younger generations of AAs, we also grew up listening to our parents’ records. And listening to our parents’ older siblings’ records. So we were familiar not just with the Black music of our era. We were also familiar with the Black music our parents and their older siblings had listened to when they were teenagers.
My teenage friends (male and female) and I hated hip-hop c/rap; and saw it for the talent-free, self-degrading garbage that it was from the very beginning.
We were also repulsed by hip-hop and c/rap on an aesthetic level. We liked music that involves acoustic instruments and musicians who can either actually sing or play instruments. We liked coming from a people who (prior to the hip-hop c/rap age) could harmonize and sing a cappella at the drop of a hat. We were not at all impressed by the influx of no-singing, no-instrument-playing "musicians" yelling and cursing over recordings of other people's melodies and beats.
Since, unlike modern AAs, we were familiar with our parents’ generation of Black music, we automatically recognized the stolen melodies, refrains, and beats the c/rappers were yelling over. And we knew the original versions of these stolen songs were qualitatively so much better than the ripped-off, c/rap version.
As a teenager who played the piano and flute and appreciated the craftsmanship that goes into composing music, I was particularly disgusted by all the “biting” involved in hip-hop c/rap. When you don’t have any talent, you have to bite off real musicians’ work.
But we ultimately allowed ourselves to be silenced by other AAs who accused those AAs who disliked hip-hop c/rap of being “bougie.”
Prior to the Curly Nikki debacle, I had decided not to say anything publicly about how so many AABW were running away from calling their online endeavors “Black” to using the term “Brown.” I didn’t want to say anything potentially divisive unless it was truly necessary. The Curly Nikki episode showed me that it’s necessary to say something about this.
I wasn’t so much shocked by what Curly Nikki did. I had mistakenly assumed that she had built up her own brand. I didn’t know that she had been a Trojan horse for a White-owned media entity from the very beginning. The pattern of White-controlled entities using Black faces to lure Black consumers is not new. I discussed this pattern in terms of upstart cable TV stations during THIS post:
Sojourners know that the traditional opening strategy for many upstart, minimal-quality cable TV networks is to pimp the AA consumer zombies. These networks use cheap, low-quality Black-oriented programming to build an initial audience of faithful AA consumer zombies.After establishing a stable base audience of AA consumer zombie-viewers, the cable network uses the financial base created by AA slave viewers to develop more expensive programming designed to appeal to their true target audience: White viewers.Once the new network develops a stable of programs favored by a sizeable audience of White viewers, the network then discards the AA consumer zombies and the Black-oriented shows used to attract AA consumer zombies. The network throws the slaves away like yesterday's trash. Two good examples of this strategy are the WB Television Network and UPN.
As you may know, I’m an “old school” AA woman from a certain place and time, so it’s always been easy for me to connect all the dots. But the question that has stymied me since the time I started blogging is WHY is it that so many younger AAbw and similar bw of all income classes and educational levels CAN BE COUNTED ON to act suicidal in so many situations as if it’s a reflex. As y’all point out, even when they’ve been told over and over the smarter or reasonable way to flip the script, they still CHOOSE to make suicidal moves. Even when they’re taking their last gasp, they still make suicidal moves!
So, my approach to this mystery is the same one that scientists use in studying lower life forms to determine why water animals, might for ex., crawl out of the water–to die on land-deliberately. I’m NOT trying to offend anyone but I think that it’s time to “study” these very detrimental choices that SO MANY AA women make and dig out–no matter the underbelly of it–what’s really going on. I call it a death wish. I notice, too, that the bw who do these things rarely ever speak up and say exactly WHY they’re doing them–and some of them do know why. “Low self-esteem” has been worn out!
So, in the last year, I’ve been trying to drill down deep to find out what’s at the bottom of this “death wish.” We’ve got to be brutally frank about this because AA women don’t have much more time. We’re seeing this more clearly now.
I’m convinced that ONE reason they do it is because negative attention (slave movies, reality shows, etc.) is better to them–than no attention at all. And I believe that some darker bw live life vicariously through their lighter friends or lighter other women. That, to them, is better than nothing. AAs have NEVER dealt ruthlessly with the massive colorism that sits in the heart of the typical AA man, and it IS AA men who are the chief makers and distributors of this poison. so it will continue to kill the spirits of many black females since they WILL be rejected in favor of lighter-whiter women.
. . . One of the key reasons I’ve been able to pinpoint for some of this suicidal behavior is that the bulk of AA women feel VERY alone and apart from other WOMEN, as well as men. That’s the #1 reason they’ve stated to me for why they continue with the BAU (business as usual). They feel unsupported and virtually hopeless that things will don’t feel they have anyone at their back and I think this is because they really don’t have anyone at their back. And this has occurred for a number of reasons but we can see some of this online, where bw (who need each other the absolute most will attack and tear each other to pieces psychologically, if they can.) This is because “hurt people hurt people.”
. . . @neurochick, Yep, I know–from interacting with various younger AAbw, that something profound occurred to large segments of them that caused many of them to become numb, and to completely doubt their value.
This replacing of Nina Simone by Zoe Saldana and the whole replacement thing could NOT have occurred in the 70s and 80s. Nina, herself, would have ripped her clothes off in Times Square, if necessary, to bring worldwide attention to her being replaced. LOL! Let’s face it-there were more than enough clueless bw back then, BUT there would have been way more than enough LOUD, unceasing protests from enough of us. A great WRONG is occurring with this replacement campaign, but judging by the overall silence, the bulk of AAbw can’t “feel” that wrong occurring. Like I said, they seem to be numb. Not only do I “know” it’s wrong, but I also FEEL it.
Insofar as going to see any of these movies where AAbw aren’t being lifted up–and spending money on them, the fact is that spending money on anything sends a clear message of APPROVAL and/or that we just don’t care. That’s the message that is being received. And if we don’t care or do approve, then we should never be surprised or not even bat an eyelash when that thing comes back to bite us in the butt. We can’t have it both ways. If there were ample roles for AA women–roles that we could be proud of–I wouldn’t have a problem with supporting selected one of these movies, but there aren’t. And self-preservation is the FIRST law.
The other thing about AABW formally self-describing as “Brown” based on actual color is that it opens the door to yet more fragmentation. Because if I picked a self-descriptor based on my actual color, I’d end up calling myself “Beige.” Once we open those floodgates, it’s guaranteed that lots of other formerly “Black” AA women will be calling themselves beige, tan, manila folder and anything else that’s not Black. Foreign-origin Blacks will increase their efforts to avoid the “Black” label by self-describing based on their African, Latino or West Indian ethnicity only. There are nuances to all of that that I discussed HERE.
AABM have already retrogressed by staging 30+ years of 1800’s-style quadroon balls in their music videos and movies. Do we as AABW really want to join AABM by working our way back . . . step by step . . . (from Black to Brown to whatever the next lighter descriptor will be) toward self-describing as “colored”?