The recent unrest and racial strife in the United States has provided insight into the world of Black Americans whose lifestyle, mindset and affiliations are not representative of what is popularly presented as ‘Black American’ or ‘Black people’. Now, more than ever, the stark divergences in points of view about what it means to be ‘black’ in America are not only coming to light but are drawing deeper lines in the sand. One of example is the now trending opinion piece shared yesterday on this website called ‘A Tale of Two Black Americas’
While this website chooses not to do so, many Black American websites, think pieces and individuals are expressing the rift taking place in their minds between opposing arguments such as being pro or against Black Lives Matter. There are many who identify with the ‘black struggle’ and the verifiable existence of police brutality and racial profiling while also having to admit that they themselves have never experienced the ‘black struggle’ in their own lives and can not affirm that this issues the THE main issue of concern for ‘all’ Blacks. However, if they want to be invited to next year’s family bbq, they will need to remain quiet about their views about the issues that should be the main priority of the ‘collective’.
Even though, I am a Black American woman, my website chooses not to engage in this angst and double-mindedness. The reason is because I take great issue with both Black people and Non-Black people treating Black Americans as a monolithic group.
It shouldn’t have to be said (and feels rather elementary to do so) however, there are indeed Black Americans with varying economic, social and educational upbringing, status and affiliations. Black Americans have a world of variety in likes and dislikes in regards to music, art, cultural expression, travel destinations, food choices, health choices, relationship choices, sexual orientation and more.
And big shocker, I know, but Black Americans actually have varying political and group affiliations.
Even bigger shocker, not all Black Americans choose to view life through the lens of ‘blackness’ or ‘race’; even if the world around them prefers them to.
A growing number of Black American used to view life through the lens of ‘blackness’ and realize how much it held them back from participating in life as if they were ‘in to win it’.
It is problematic for white people, liberal people and ‘blackness’ aligned people to pigeon hole every person who is visually identifiable as black because the group think concept of ‘blackness’ is most often tied to the lowest common denominator.
The Urban Dictionary defines the lowest common denominator as:
A particular type of obnoxious person one encounters in extremely large groups, or where everybody is universally included. Because there are so many people, there is a significantly higher probability of idiotic people.
In relation to people, they are the simplest group in a population. They have the simplest opinions, the simplest views and the simplest lifestyles. They are the unsophisticated (which is not correlated to the amount of happiness they have – in fact, living a simple life may make you even more happy than living a sophisticated one). Because these people do not think as much as a sophisticated person, they tend to be more naive and more gullible to gut feelings, and the ingrained culture and social laws that are around them. Their trust is easily earned.
In terms of politics, this can be taken advantage of when politicians use their persona and the gut feelings of their audience to gain followers, even when their policies and views might be to their disadvantage.
If one were to take a poll of people who live in Switzerland and have also never met a Black American, you might be interested to find out their opinions on what Black Americans are like. I have had many Black Americans, who travel abroad, share their experiences of talking with individuals who had never actually met a Black American prior to speaking with that particular person. Their ideas about Black America are monolithic aside from Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan or Oprah, of course. And to be clear, their impression or ideas are characteristic of the lowest common denominator behaviors.
This may not be wholly different from what many White Americans think about Black Americans and it is certainly the imagery that is promoted via news outlets.
What is especially important to note is that a wide swath of Black Americans feel that ALL black Americans should identify with the Lowest Common Denominator; even those who do not and have not participated in or aligned themselves with those behaviors and mentality. Furthermore, there is great pressure to do so due to group policing. In other words, Black folks police other Black folks to ensure that they all fall in line with the ‘racism is the overriding issue facing Black America today’ narrative.
Stepping outside of this bubble, if we were to eliminate the incidences with Police, one would assume that most human beings who happen to be black would denounce criminal behavior. One would assume. But apparently, that seems not to be the case.
Allowing oneself a good 24 hours to browse social media and the internet at large would provide a snapshot of a supposedly monolithic consensus of: never mind the prevalence of behaviors that lead to a higher incidence of police interactions, (which invariably lead to the possibility of incidences of police brutality) the real issue is simply police shooting of unarmed victims.
Again, stepping outside of this bubble, Black Americans who reject the one-size-fits-all association with ‘blackness’ are standing on the outside looking in and realizing that many very important questions about monolithic black acceptance of ‘black lowest denominator culture’, all in the name of grievance politics, are being avoided and deflected and when the dust settles the divide between them and the monolith may just be irreparable.