To be Black or American?

I have been struggling with what it means to be a Black American. W.E.B Du Bois calls it “double consciousness”, two souls at war with one another. The Black me and the American me are constantly fighting. They will never unite and merge peacefully because in order to acknowledge and appreciate one side the other must be oppressed. Like oil and water, two exist, in the body of every black person living in America.

Is it possible for the two to live harmoniously? Is it possible to accept the dark hue of my skin, the kink in my hair, the fullness of my lips and the spread of my nose and equally accept what it means to be American?

It is hard to be proud to be an American. It is something that my mind cannot accept. The ideals and philosophy of America are built on the success of one group through the oppression and degradation of another. And for those of you who believe that we have arrived at the era of post-racialism please open your eyes and WAKE UP!!!

Some say, if you work hard, you can attain the American dream. What exactly is the American dream? The ability to buy your dream house, land that perfect job, and a platinum Escalade with 24 inch rims, is this making it?

It is so easy for us to get caught up in what America is selling  us. The Nicki’s and Weezy’s show us a life that is not real, yet so many of us mistakenly believe this to be the truth. Are you really successful if you have to completely deny or alter who are?

Images bombard our minds everyday. Advertisements on the tallest buildings tell us to lighten our skin, straighten our hair, change our noses, and get rid of our hips. Like a pandemic, we become infected and active participants in our own degradation. And certain folks become the spokespersons and endorsers of self hatred and assimilation instilling empty values and superficial aspirations in the upcoming generation.

In the end, being a Black American doesn’t actually represent a combination of two cultures. In most cases, you end up trying to validate one side while repressing the other. To be a Black American is waking up everyday only to face constant physical and mental oppression. To be a Black American is to fight everyday not just with the outside world but fighting to remain and sustain the very essence that is you.


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