In Search of Blackness: Yo Black, what flavor are you?

Although it's been going on for longer than I've been alive; it appears to me that in the time since the "Obama Ascendancy" there is a mad scramble to define what "blackness" is. Black may be the flavor of the month but no one is quite sure what that means. From Michael Steele inviting Republicans up to his "heezy" to the right-wing talking heads seeing reparation conspiracy theories everywhere. We're witnessing a crazy scramble to put blackness in a box, therefore containing and subduing any thoughts of getting ahead of ourselves. (i.e. re-electing certain brown-skinned folks in 2012)

This cycle seems to rinse and repeat no matter how many times we grit our teeth and repeat one of the following:
  1. We are not a Monolith
  2. We come in multiple flavors
  3. We're a group of diverse individuals with varying experiences who happen to share a racial chromosome
  4. Don't put Baby in a corner
  5. We can't be defined, quit trying
Someone always has to try. And I feel the sentiment behind this is summed up well in the classic Black Sheep tune, Flavor of the Month:

Let's see what kind of flavor I want...
Do I want, vanilla?
Or do I want a taste of chocolate?
Hmmmmm... I want something different, I want somethin slammin'.
What's the slamminest flavor out this month...
Let's see...
Yo black! Hmmmmm, what flavor are you? 


Let's start with the curious case of Antoine Dobson. For those unaware, Antoine Dobson is a young man living in the Lincoln Park projects somewhere in Alabama. An intruder attempted to rape his sister and the local news interviewed the entire family.


From this clip, folks made remixes, bands played the remix, Antoine got him a website, a Twitter account. It went viral. Most interesting though was the mixed response from black folks. Some people were mightily offended that the news put this bandana-wearin', syllable-choppin' negro on blast. Others were highly amused and added "Run tell dat, homeboy" on the end of every sentence. I fell somewhere in between. Antoine spoke his truth as best he could. The only problem came when a random non-Black person asked me about him in the check-out line at Target. I was like - hold up, are all Black people required to speak on the actions of the whole race? I missed that meeting. Antoine Dobson no more represents me than I represent him. And I think we're both happy that way.

Slate Magazine's writer Farhad Manjoo attempted to write a thought-provoking article on "How Black People Use Twitter". The first problem was that it was illustrated with a brown bird rocking a fitted cap and clutching a smart phone. The article attempted to get to the bottom of some popular trending topics. Never you mind that a lot of those topics are generally started by a younger subset of black "youth" who tweet from smartphones. A great breakdown of the article  was over at Black Snob's place last week. The problem with the article is that not only does he paint all Black Twitterati with the same brush but he behaves as though Black people are a curious species to be studied like pet projects for biology extra credit. As referenced by my first link about the "Monolith" above, Alicia from innyvinny.com, took the article and turned it into something witty by creating a range of #browntwitterbirds and the term #tweegros (Negroes who tweet) was spawned. Hilarity.

And finally, Dr. Damn Laura. I actually didn't know Dr. Laura Schlessinger was still on the air. BougieMom put it in perspective when I asked her what she thought about this. She said, "WHo is she and why is she important to me?" Exactly. Anyway, Dr. Laura is still on the air and took the opportunity to drop the N-bomb six times in one show using the time worn argument that black people say it to each other so it's hypocritical for us not to want to hear white people say it to us. Yeah, not a good look. How many diggity-darn times do we have to tell folks - just don't say it. But the worst part of her rant to me was the phrase: 
And what I just heard from Jade is a lot of what I hear from black-think...
I had a minor aneurysm reading that. Just what in the holy hell is "black-think"? To me, the idea that there is a group "black-think" ideology that each and every person included in the race subscribes to makes me absolutely crazy. Seriously? In 2010, we still need to say some of us play chess, some play bidwhist? Some like T.I., some like Tchaikovsky? Someone is still letting a phrase like "black-think" fall out of their mouths? In Public? On a syndicated radio show? Arrgh. Makes me wanna holla, throw up both my hands.

So let me just say it one mo' gin as clearly as I possibly can: Blackness is not a state of mind or a state of being, it's a skin-tone or a genetic marker. You can no more group us all into one pot than you can distinguish raindrops during a torrential downpour. To attempt to do so is futile, serves no one and just reveals an appalling lack of intellect. 

Who can tell me what "black-think" is? Do share your thoughts, feelings, comments on all of the above... the floor is yours.