There is an African Proverb that says, “Until the story of the hunt is told by the lion, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” For centuries even up to today, White people have attempted to write the history and narrative for Black people. White people have erased, rewritten and whitewashed history to make themselves the victors, inventors, and saviors of everything and everyone in the world. One textbook described the transatlantic slave trade as bringing, “millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.” Workers? Use of this word minimizes if not wholly erases the subjugation and horror of slavery. Black people did not willingly come to America to work on agricultural plantations.
But this is what happens when you allow the hunter to tell the story. It is with that understanding that there has been a resurgence of Black people and People of Color, speaking up and reclaiming our narratives. Many people understand that there is power in owning and telling your own story. One narrative about Black people that we fight to dismantle every day is that Black people are beneath White people. This narrative has been told for centuries and was reinforced by minstrel shows in which White people dressed up in blackface and portrayed Black people as stupid, buffoonish and lazy. (I have always wondered how White people kidnapped, enslaved Black people making them work for free from sun-up to sundown in the fields and in the house for hundreds of years but it was Black people that were labeled as lazy. Make that make sense.) Currently this narrative continues to manifest itself in the media. According to a study by Color of Change and Family Story, “the media overwhelmingly depicted black families as poor and dependent on welfare, black fathers as absent, and consistently overhyped the link between black families and criminality. However, when it comes to white families, the picture painted is often of social stability. In the US, black families represent 59% of the poor in the media, but make up just 27% of the poor of the general population, says the study. White families, on the other hand, represent 17% of the poor in media, but make up 66% of the poor across the country.”
However, despite any story that White people may attempt to tell about us and there have been many, Black people are well aware of our excellence and all the contributions that we have made to society. Our very being has altered the course of society’s modern-day existence. The list of our achievements is endless. Everywhere you look Black people have left fingerprints of greatness. To celebrate our greatness, similar to the Black Pride Movement that was started in response to “dominant White cultures and ideologies,” a new movement of calling out Black Excellence has started on social media. Which brings me to a Twitter post made by Serena Williams, one of most celebrated tennis players this world has ever seen.
You don’t even have to think so. You know so. They do it because you are the best and anything they can do to attempt to discredit you, they will. Sometimes people can’t believe you have beat them at what they perceive is their game.
We don’t compete. We dominate. pic.twitter.com/lqpubAvCBL
— Hannah Drake (@HannahDrake628) July 25, 2018
I do not think it was my comment that caused such an uproar. I think it was the picture that accompanied my comment that caused people to be upset. The photo is breathtaking. I wish I knew who took it and who was in it but I stumbled upon the picture in my Twitter feed, and I was speechless. So much is said in the photo that commentary really isn’t necessary and when I posted it, it wasn’t long before someone created an entire Twitter account to tell me that I was racist and an ugly pig. I laughed as another person posted photos of what appeared to be White MMA fighters beating up Black MMA fighters. I wasn’t offended. Everyone knows with ANY sport, you lose some, you win some. However, I knew somewhere on the inside of this person that made the posts, it was not just about winning. It was that he could not stand seeing a Black person in a position of dominance. The depths some people will go through to discourage Black people from celebrating ourselves is astounding.
There seems to be a level of fear when Black people state that we are excellent. It is as if White people must remind Black people not to be an “uppity Negro” and to stay in our place. Without fail when I make a post about Black Excellence, a White person will find their way into my feed to remind me, “White people are excellent too.” “You shouldn’t make it about race.” “Don’t you mean human excellence?” “You’re being racist!” How is pointing out Black Excellence racist?
Why is saying Black Excellence weird? White people will always find a way to minimize or erase Black Excellence to destroy the Black narrative with the hopes of destroying Black people. Perhaps because excellence always shines a spotlight on mediocrity. The tales of Black people being stupid, lazy, thugs and all welfare recipients is fine for many White people, but the minute you say, “Black people are excellent,” it’s a problem. What many White people fail to understand is that telling my story does not take anything away from their story and me acknowledging and celebrating Black Excellence does not take anything away from their excellence.
Which brings me to my next point, inevitably a White person will say, “What about White Pride? If a White person is proud to be White, they are racist.” No. A White person being racist is racist. A White person that is proud of being White doesn’t bother me. It is a non-factor in my day to day existence. I believe all people should celebrate their culture and heritage. But please note, throughout history up until today, there is a stark difference in how Black pride and White pride manifest itself. The problem is if and when your White pride seeks to harm, hurt, disenfranchise, marginalize, or kill me. That is when White Pride becomes a problem.
Black people, I challenge you this week to go on your social media feed and post something that celebrates Black Excellence and write, “Black Excellence at its finest,” and see what happens. If you do not have a photo or article about Black people just post “Black Excellence is amazing” or “I love being Black,” “Black men are extraordinary,” “Black women are beautiful” anything that CELEBRATES Black Excellence or Black people and see what happens. How long does it take before a White person disagrees with you? How long does it take for a White person to tell you that you should not think so highly of yourself? Did a White person remind you that White people are excellent too? Were you called racist for pointing out Black excellence? Why do you think this happens?
White people, I challenge you if you see a celebration of Black Excellence online to resist the urge to say, “What about us?” I challenge you to resist the urge to comment in a way that minimizes a Black person’s accomplishments in an attempt to put Black people down. I challenge you to stop yourself from commenting on a thread about Black excellence that White people are excellent too. Think about your interactions on social media, have you called a Black person racist or told them color doesn’t matter when they mention something amazing we have accomplished? If you have done that ask yourself, “Why?” Ask yourself why you feel compelled to mention White accomplishments when Black people mention their achievements? Does Black excellence go against a narrative that you have been told or even said about Black people? Why do you think this happens?
Black Excellence should be celebrated. Black people are some of the most amazing, beautiful, intelligent, brilliant, extraordinary people in this world. Our strength and resilience are unparalleled. I love everything about our Blackness and every day that I awake I will celebrate it with my whole heart, unapologetically.
Categories: Current Events, Race Relations, Thoughts, Musings and Reflections
SPEAK THIS GOOD WORD SIS!
Tumblr is a great place for these kind of messages too, especially the celebration of #BlackGirlMagic. (Incidentally, have you heard Janelle Monae’s Django Jane? It’s the sh*t!)
I’ve been saying this for a long time now: White People hate to hear us declare our worth. They’ve been working to psychologically castrate us for decades! They don’t want us to have happiness, or joy, or pride. They don’t want us walking with our head up because it means we don’t want or need them to know who we are.
Remember when Beyoncé came out with Formation and White people collectively lost their sh*t. They hate to hear us recognize who and what we really are. It’s not enough to refute their lies about us. We must declare our worth loudly, proudly, and unapologetically.
As if they know they’re not “all that” and declaring our worth is a reminder that they’re not. In some instances our mere presence in a space is a reminder of that (hence the need to exert power over us by calling the authorities). It’s like they believe they can only be great if they’re standing on everyone else’s back (which, as a race, they have).
Crazy how consistent whites are with these responses ===> “White people are excellent too.” “You shouldn’t make it about race.” “Don’t you mean human excellence?” as if EVERY DAMN THING has to be centered on them by default.
All the time! I mean ALL THE TIME! I was hoping that you would read this. 🙂 It’s like we can’t celebrate ANYTHING about being Black. I promise you there has NEVER been a time that I have said something about Black Excellence and someone hasn’t jumped to comment against it. I promise you.
No we literally cannot! Seriously!!!
I see this all the time on Tumblr. Someone will write a post about how Black women are beautiful, I Love Black Ladies, or Black girls Rock or something, and people like this will swan into the notes on that post saying the EXACT SAME THING that you just listed.And they only play this game of “whataboutism” with Black people.
Do you remember that one statement, (I think it was P Diddy) lauding the Black women in his life and White people tried to vilify him for saying that. And then there’s that imaginary feud that one tennis player has with Serena.
Everytime Black history month rolls around you get a bunch of juvenile dummies asking why there is no White history month, or why there’s not a WET in response to the existence a BET.
And how White women got really salty and wrote a bunch of op-ed pieces basically asking who Beyonce thinks she is, when Beyonce came out with the photoshoot of her birth announcement.
And then there’s the response to just us saying Black Lives Matter. White people lost all of their ever loving minds over that one. Its like some desperate need to be the center of our universe.
I love that my kids attend schools that really do a good job with Black History Month but I wish the curriculum extended and integrated such celebrations of the contributions of black people (and other people of colour and LGBTQ people and of immigrant populations when it comes to it) throughout the curriculum across the whole school year. Celebrating black excellence needs to be more emphatic than just a token month that somehow, to me anyway (and I’m a white immigrant so my perspective is maybe skewed) ring fences celebrating black people in a way that doesn’t sit completely comfortably with me – though I’d rather have black history month than no month at all.
On a related note, I’ve been trying to teach my kids to identify and discuss media stereotyping of black people. It’s been quite eye-opening for them. They’ve been trying to pass on their observations to their friends.
I had another thought to share but I just had surgery and my brain is still addled from anesthesia. I might be back if I remember but for now I just hope that what I wrote above was coherent.
Hi, Laura. I hope you are recovering well from your surgery. ❤️ Everything you wrote is very coherent. I completely agree with you about learning about a diverse range of people that are excellent and that certainly doesn’t have to be in one month of the year. When I look back on my education (until I got to college and even still a lot then) it was all White. It was like White people did EVERYTHING! Then they role out MLK, Rosa Park and Harriet Tubman and the was it. How bland.
Wonderful that you are teaching your kids about media and stereotypes. I work with a group of young people and I had them focus on this for a week and they were shocked. I am so glad people like you are teaching your kids these things.
Get some rest and I hope you are feeling better. ❤️
Thank you, Hannah.
Thanks for writing this wonderful truth! I love my Blackness and have always celebrated it!!
You’re welcome and AMEN! I am not today nor ever apologizing for celebrating Black Excellence!