What Is 'Blackness', & How Do We Identify It?

What is ‘blackness’ and how do we identify it?

The only thing we’re certain of is that ‘blackness’ is: the state of being Black.

Well, ok then: what is ‘Black’?

That’s a tough question, because the answer is rooted in two diametrically opposed places: one, what it is to be white (equally obscure). And two, what it is to be African (which is, by design, even more obscure than being Black). (For the intents and purposes of this blogpost, ‘blackness’ approximates African-ness, and ‘whiteness’ approximates European-ness.)

Yes. I refer to “white” (~European) and “African” (~Black) as “diametrically opposed”. I do not do this because there is any inherent reason that they must be that way—but because that is the lens in which the western (white/European) world has rendered African/Black existence:

1) As the source of its sorrows (found in scores of idioms and description of phenomena)

a. “…the dark side.”

b. “These are dark times…”

c. The Black Death (alias for the Bubonic Plague)

2) As a distortion/perversion/degradation of itself (found in language)

a. (As degradation)- Denigrate (from Latin root words, denigrare meaning ‘blackened’). Latin is an anachronistic European language. Today it is used predominantly in the Vatican.

b. (As a perversion & a distortion)- As found on page 82 (and all throughout) Joseph Conrad’s book 1899 Heart of Darkness

i. Quote from the book: “They were dying slowly— it was very clear… The black bones [who has those?] reclined at full length with one shoulder against the tree…The man seemed young —almost a boy— but you know with them [as opposed to who?] it’s hard to tell.”

ii. Historical comparisons between Africans and monkeys and insinuations that Africans are apes (Diogo 2017)

iii. Misapplications of neoteny and the racist pseudoscience of phrenology

3) As the bane of its existence and as its antithesis (conceptually and philosophically)

a. Where they are ‘intelligent’, we are not: James Watson (Nobel Prize winner for the discovery of the double-helix DNA structure) said the following on the intelligence of Africans in 2007. He said he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours—when all the testing says not really.”

i. They white-wash history and culturally appropriate to support this blasphemous lie that Africans (~Blacks) are unintelligent. They’re STILL trying to rationalize the White Man’s Burden/Manifest Destiny bs:

1. Speculative disinformation about the Edo sculptors of the famous Benin Bronzes (shown right) being “dark-skinned”, “lost” or “descendants of” Portuguese.

a. All this, because west Africans couldn’t possibly have been that amazing at sculpting and metallurgy.

2. White-washed the African history of Egypt in its heyday.

a. All this, because Black Africans couldn’t possibly have been the architects who built such fantastic structures while they were eating each other in caves (Robinson 2017, Santana et al. 2019). (Maybe it was aliens??? Cue the ridiculous Ancient Aliens show.) In Egyptian texts Egyptians describe themselves as brown-skinned. Ancient Greek scholars alive alongside indigenous Egyptians describe them as Black (Heroditus, Apollodorus, Ammianus Marcellinus). I ask you: how could Jesus have hid in Egypt (Bible, KJV, Matthew 2:13) and blended in if he didn’t have wooly hair and skin like ‘burnt bronze’? (Bible, KJV Revelation 1:15).

3. European white people invading, annexing, and culturally appropriating the west-Asian (as opposed to Middle-Eastern) Jew identity (Zionism).

a. If you examine the DNA of the Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish, (the ones taking up the limelight within Judaism) you’ll find that few of them have strong genetic ties to west Asia (Costa 2013). All this, to support the narcissistic exceptionalism propaganda that the story of humanity is the story of the white human.

b. Where adjectives that connote us (like ‘black’) are imbued with deviancy, concepts that connote them are harmless and innocent:

i. “a white lie” (idiom insinuating harmless deceit)

ii. “Devil’s Food Cake Mix” (The name of a chocolate cake mix produced by a brand called Baker’s Corner. They also have white cake mix called—you guessed it—"Angel Food Cake Mix”. Their alternative white cake is called “Classic White”.)

4) As both an existential and immediate threat (in areas of people-activity and philosophy)

a. Immediate: White Fragility, White Women’s Tears, White Female Rape Frenzy (the ‘kArEn’ phenomena)

b. Existential: One of the British princes, William (Duke of Cambridge), under the guise of providing solutions for environmental concerns, made the following comment in November 2017: “In my lifetime we have seen global wildlife populations decline by over half. Africa’s rapidly growing human population is predicted to more than double by 2050—a staggering increase of three and a half million people per month. There is no question that this increase puts wildlife and habitat under enormous pressure.

i. Who is a filthy, inbred colonizer like him to talk about the abuse of nature? He, who is a multi-millionaire because of it? Who is he to pinpoint us (Africans) as the epicenter of overpopulation (or a good spot to start depopulation) when ALL the facts (taken in the right historical and economic contexts) say that Africa’s inhabitants have little to do with the contemporary ecological consequences of white supremacy (the industrial revolution, and European economic systems like capitalism)???

1. Technically, Africa is an underpopulated continent

2. No African nation that has been historically led by autochthonous Africans is listed as a major cause of CO2 emissions.

3. Africans are the indisputable MASTERS of living in harmony with nature. But now some People of Non-Color want to point fingers because we are over-hunting animals/over-farming lands to sustain ourselves while we struggle to keep up with their rigged economies?! FOH!!!

5) ETC.

But innately, Black (blackness) doesn’t mean any of these things.

But what does it mean? A complete, stable answer to this deep philosophical question is likely impossible to achieve anywhere, much less here: but we must begin brainstorming so that none of you take me out of context.

Arguably, here are the tangible and technical ways that “black” (~African) could be defined as it relates to person-hood:

1. Human

a. This is the ultimate derivation of how most contemporary scientists describe humans, seeing as genetics has repeatedly shown that humanity came from the central/south eastern part of Africa (Gonder et al. 2007, Rotimi et al. 2016, Campbell & Tishkoff 2008). We are a young species with only one extant group, Homo sapiens sapiens. For most of the 200,000+ thousand years we have existed, humans have been black (brown skin, brown eyes, dark curly hair). The differences in skin, eye and hair color that we see today are superficial and only started showing up in humans after they left Africa.

i. For example, it has been reported that the famed bAbY-bLuE eyes only showed up ~10,000 years ago (Eiberg et al. 2008). Seems impressive, until genetics tells you that blue eyes are a mutation of brown eyes, and that brown eyes have been around at least anywhere from 20-40 times longer than blue ones (Beliza et al. 2012, White & Robago-Smith 2010, Stringer 2016).

2. Continental African

3. Having predominantly African Ancestry

a. Black as in “Black American” which is often synonymous with ‘African-American’ or the now anachronistic “Negro”

i. Unfortunately, this definition of black (specific mostly to North America) can be stretched to also include the following groups:

1. Black people from central America, south America, and Caribbean

2. People in the USA that may be perceived (look) as Black (ex. Southern Asians, Hispanics) because they have brown skin, curly/kinky hair, brown eyes, thick lips, etc.

3. Recent African immigrants

4. White people born in Africa that immigrate to America (check out how this white male from Mozambique sued New Jersey Medical School over this very thing, lol: https://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=7567291&page=1)

5. White people who feel like it??? (ex. Rachel Dolezal)

4. Having brown-skin

a. This includes most indigenous people in the southern hemisphere, and some in the northern one.

5. Having Black mannerisms

a. Accents, vernacular, etc.

6. Being a POC (non-white)?