*Words have power. But you already know this, right? But words come from thoughts, and thoughts are shaped by perception and perception comes from two things: personal experiences and what information we are fed. The information we are fed often comes from what we seek out; and ultimately, what we choose to believe.
This is more than just a lesson down the memory lane of dichotomy. There is an actual point to it. Why do we, as black people say (or think), “Is it because I’m black?” or affirm, “It’s because I’m black, right?”
Any and every “bad thing” that happens to us, when we are dealing with a person of Caucasian or any other descent, brings that “because I’m black” thing out.
The mere assertion suggests there is something “wrong” with being black.
Personally, I have always detested that stance. I guess that’s why I never took it. Not that I ignore feelings that I receive as racist being anything but that, it may be a natural arrogance on my part. I don’t know, I just always thought of it more as the way I presented to you:
Not “because I am” but “because you are.”
If it is arrogance I fully embrace it in this instance and consider it a gift. Because I don’t want to harbor ANY feelings (hidden or out loud) of being less than…especially since being black is something I can’t change. Nor want to.
But I do cringe whenever I hear my people saying this. In ALL of its forms. It’s subliminal…any negative comments, including those posted oftentimes on the EURThisNthat and EURweb reader boards, speak to this “because I’m black” mindset – whenever someone says something dramatic, negative, or even what others may consider “wrong” – not far behind will be comments in some of those “other forms.” The “we never support,” or “because we’re black,” or whatever. I notice “Is it because I’m black” or “It’s because I’m black right?” never follows anything of a positive nature.
Why is that?
It’s a very “telling” public example of cultural low self-esteem and instead of getting mad that the shit may now be out in the open; perhaps we need to look at it for what it is and think about changing it.
I know I am not alone in this. I know that a lot of you cringe too, and I trust this commentary will connect with those it is supposed to connect with.
So back to the way we use our words; the ones formed by our thoughts, which come from our perspective and personal experiences, and the information we seek out and are fed.
How come …the question instead is not, “Is it because you’re white?” Or “It’s because you’re white, right?”
Remember, words are important. So now, say those sentences out loud right now.
Go ahead, that’s an order.
“Is it because you’re white?”
“It’s because you’re white, right?”
See? It kind of changes things up, right? Like a paradigm shift. The words, put this way, shifts the intent.
Now, I personally am not suggesting we try to make white people (or any other culture) feel bad or less with our shift of thinking and the words we use as a result.
That is so not my concern here.
My intent, however, is to demonstrate that words have power, and they can be very telling and intrinsic in nature; especially as it relates to our feelings about ourselves individually and collectively in what remains one of this country’s biggest issues: race.
Remember this: The children are our future, and they are watching.
They are smart. They listen to what we say and watch what we do. But don’t assume they take everything at face value. They see beyond what we may want them to see. They are not able to articulate it yet, but they see intent. They see truth and they recognize when they are being talked down to.
I do speak this from experience. I grew up in segregation in the early years of my life. In the south, standing on our porch, I recall thinking there was something very wrong with the picture: how black folk were living vs. white folk. But I didn’t know how to share this with my parents, who would probably have punished me for ‘being too grown’ anyway.
But the point is, I vividly remember having my own thoughts.
If a child’s parent or significant other is going around thinking that being black is something wrong or negative, (and wearing a ‘proud to be black’ T-shirt doesn’t excuse this behavior) because whenever we hear something negative, or feel mistreated or misjudged by someone of a different culture, our first response (or thought) is “it’s because I’m black, right?”
No. It’s not “because you’re black.”
It’s because they‘re not.
And I said it because I’m DeBorah B. Pryor.