Am I ‘black enough’?

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-11-06 01:41Z by Steven

Am I ‘black enough’?

Cable News Network (CNN)
2014-10-27

Gene Seymour

Editor’s note: Gene Seymour is a film critic who has written about music, movies and culture for The New York Times, Newsday, Entertainment Weekly and The Washington Post. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

(CNN) — I am black, though for most of my life, I’ve heard from various people that I wasn’t.

From children with skin the same color as mine saying that my normal speaking voice was somehow faked and that I spoke and therefore acted “like a white man”; from a black woman who berated me for listening to the Beatles in my car because, in her words, their music “wasn’t yours”; from strangers and would-be acquaintances of varied races over several decades who openly wondered if I was something other than African-American because of an eclectic range of interests (Jewish novelists, New Wave French movies, Wallace Stevens’ poetry, etc.) that didn’t quite jibe with whatever was expected from African-Americans.

There was even a liberal white teacher in my high school who suggested to me, straight-faced and with the very best of intentions, that if I was feeling out of place among my fellow black students I should just spend more time around what was then called “the ghetto” and learn how to speak as they would prefer; maybe even to adopt their speech as my own, so as to ….I don’t remember the exact words, but I’m guessing it was to better embody whatever her idea of legitimate blackness was back in the mid-60s.

If you came of age in mid- to late-20th century America when the civil rights movement gave way to growing consciousness of, and pride in being of African descent, the charge from within the black community that you were Not Black Enough was almost as wounding, even debilitating, as a racial epithet from a white person.

Apparently, you can’t even win a Super Bowl as a black quarterback without somebody slurring your authenticity. There were reports swirling around the Internet last week that Russell Wilson, signal caller for the defending NFL champion Seattle Seahawks, was being accused by some of his black teammates of being Not Black Enough. “I don’t even know what that means,” Wilson, who has mixed-race parentage, told a press conference yesterday after his team rallied from a two-week losing streak to beat the Carolina Panthers

…This fall, what was once a mostly insular discourse among black folks has gone even more public through two cozily familiar entertainment genres: the family sitcom and the campus comedy.

The latter, “Dear White People” is writer-director Justin Simien’s Sundance Film Festival sensation about culture clashes between white and black students (and among black students themselves) at a mythical Ivy League college. There’s a black Big Man On Campus named (what else) Troy, who besides being the son of the dean of students is dating the daughter of the white university president. There’s also a gay nerd-outcast named Lionel, who wears a retrograde Afro hairstyle so big as to be compared to a weather system, listens to Mumford & Sons, loves Robert Altman movies and, as he puts it, “isn’t black enough” for either the black or the white students.

The most radical character is a mixed-race young woman named Sam White, a rabble-rousing radio jock and aspiring filmmaker whose acerbically funny barbs aimed at genteel racial stereotyping at mythical Winchester University sets off a nationalist insurgency among the black students. Yet, as with Lionel, she carries a portfolio of seeming contradictions, such as a white lover and a preference for Ingmar Bergman’s movies over Spike Lee’s

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Seahawks’ Russell Wilson Controversy Shows Dangers of Racial Authenticity Tests

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-11-03 21:58Z by Steven

Seahawks’ Russell Wilson Controversy Shows Dangers of Racial Authenticity Tests

The American Prospect
2014-11-01

Kevin Cokley, Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology; Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies
University of Texas, Austin

The ‘are you black enough?’ question is perilously close to the racist one-drop rule of yore—whether called by blacks or whites.

Whether Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is “black enough” is beside the point. The real issue is why we are still talking about racial authenticity at all.

“My feeling on this—and it’s backed up by several interviews with Seahawks players—is that some of the black players think Wilson isn’t black enough,” Mike Freeman writes at Bleacher Report, reporting on tensions between just-traded teammate Percy Harvin and Wilson, including a locker room reportedly divided into pro/con camps.

“This is an issue that extends outside of football, into African-American society—though it’s gotten better recently,” Freeman writes. “Well-spoken blacks are seen by some other blacks as not completely black. Some of this is at play.”

The “Am I Black Enough?” racial authenticity card is a recurring theme in the lives of black athletes in particular, and black people in general. Concerns about racial authenticity are always present, especially for those who are biracial or somewhat more racially ambiguous as Wilson, with his light skin tone and curly hair, is believed to be…

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