Nigga or Nigger it’s the same thing

The concept of Du Boisian “double consciousness” has three manifestations. First, the power of white stereotypes on black life and thought (being forced into a context of misrepresentation of one’s own people while also having the knowledge of reflexive truth). Second, the racism that excluded black Americans from the mainstream of society, being American or not American. Finally, and most significantly, the internal conflict between being African and American simultaneously.

I happened to come across this thought again today. I always remember feeling it on some level when I first entered the Black community. When I mean by that is for the early years of my life I had largely lived on military bases or in NYC where there always a large variety of people culturally speaking. WEB Du Bois was the first person that I remember reading of that intellectualized it for me as I continue to become more accumulated to the Black community.

My own thoughts concerning this don’t necessarily have to deal with only Black community. I was always of the belief that to form the whole of a human being it required both on the individual define themselves, as well as the community perceives the individual because being the human beings are social human beings, how others feel about us directly and indirectly how we feel and define ourselves as human beings. Du Bois narrows this down specifically the Black American race.

I can understand the frustration that this causes in a lot of people in my generation and the one before because they’re straddling an ever changing line about the notion of blackness in America. I haven’t really ever suffered from this because I always consider myself to be first and foremost a military brat before any racial identifiers I thrust upon myself. However, I am neither dim nor oblivious to the fact that on the best or worst of days I’m seen a nigga/nigger regardless of how I self-identify. And being that I have no desire to retreat away society, I must adopt both of those identifiers to some extent to cope with my existence in this country, and disregarding or outright ignoring them is only going to make personal issues far more complicated than they already are as well as political issues.

I think the movie/play that best exemplifies this is Raisin in the Sun which runs the gambit of all the issues with dealing with one’s blackness in context to America. We have two college characters who are operating are opposite extremes of the spectrum where one is attempting to go back to her Africaness by adopting each and every single thing that she feels should connect her to the motherland. While we have another which is attempting to ‘wash away’ his undeniable blackness through careful adoption of certain traits that are supposed as the greatest of the white man’s virtues. I’d rather not spoil the play/film for those who have not seen it, but the rest of the film does go through the generational strife of black identity politics and is worthy of your time.

There are several issues presented with ‘double consciousness’. Combating stereotypes being the most obvious one, however I don’t think you can take on this one directly, rather it is a generational effort that will take decades of hard-work and community improvement to set it aside enough, because it will likely always be there. The second and third problems need to addressed via the same question: Do we want to be Americans? Or if you wish to be more dramatic with the question: Rebellion or Revolution? Granted I believe there will always, always meaning in the ‘foreseeable future’, an undeniable blackness that permeates throughout the race lines in America, however if we haven’t already reached the impasse it is surely within sight. The community needs to decide if it wishes to integrate into larger American society, where it is still possible to have their cultural niches as the Asians have proven, or will their be new separatist movement where the community doesn’t accept any non-allied help and builds from within.

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About panamaenrique

Afro-Latino film lover in NYC. I love blues, jazz, soul, funk, and everything else under the sun. Any questions, comments, or concerns about anything I say, feel free to hit me up. My contact info is there and I'll be sure to give you a lengthy response about what I said and why I said it.
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4 Responses to Nigga or Nigger it’s the same thing

  1. *OnlyYolie* says:

    hey malik… quick question just to make sure i understand… in terms of African-Americans is there any other real choice for them but this so called “American-ness”?

    • Yes, I believe there is a real choice. There are already plenty of groups in America that operate on the outside/fringes of American culture, but still have pull. Most African-American communities are already isolated even if they are in the biggest city in America, HARLEM. It has also, been done before, HARLEM. There needs to be the realization that you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Honestly, with the hundreds of millions of dollars that black athletes in the NFL, NBA, and MLB hold there is already enough capital to invest heavily in the communities that they represent.

  2. *OnlyYolie* says:

    now you are really making me think…

    but does self sufficient or self maintained= non “american-ness”?

    black millionaires make up less than 1% of the black american population (at least that is what i read somewhere)

    • I think that’s ironically very American. Or at least that’s capturing the American Dream to some extent. ‘Americaness’ deserves some definition. I mean it within the context of a homogenized white male view of the country. It is the individual above the community. It’s the idea of no longer ‘seeing color’ despite that racial disparities still exist.

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