What does Blackness mean in 21st century America?

Is it transcending the old ways we imported from Africa with a little blending of certain customs in a strange new world in order to survive?

Is it conformity with the present dominate culture?

Or is it for some of us reaching back to our past and discovering the beauty of what it means to be Black for the first time?

Blackness-at least in America-is like free flowing water that can’t be contained.

Once we think we have Blackness molded, shaped, and contained, it flows freely again!

At one point in our history Blackness was derogated.

Instead of something to love, it was to be cast out like a disease.

Still at another time in our tenuous history in America, Blackness was to be celebrated.

Then like any fad, it waned and subsequently seemed to disappear from the public radar.

Was it because we thought we had finally arrived and become an integral part of the fabric of this country?

Esteemed Black scholar W.E.B. Dubois said that the problem of the 20th century was the color line.

He wrote those words at the beginning of the 20th century.

We have surely witnessed the truth of this sentiment in the late 20th century.

The greatest impact in which Dubois’s words have manifested itself is in the rise of the Prison Industrial Complex as well as the astronomical rate of disease among African Americans.

Why is it important that we finally decide on a definite shape and fixed meaning of Blackness?

Ponder this for a second readers:

Institutions and ideas that were once set in stone have at certain occasions had to be reconstituted to fit changing situations.

The situation for Black people has never truly changed.

I know that some of you may disagree with this sentiment now that we have elected the first Black president.

But as always in our history, there have been paradoxes.

While the bulk of our early numbers contained mostly slaves, there were prominent free men and women as well.

Also, while most of our early members were illiterate, there were some who had attained the highest level of education.

So, here we are, almost halfway through 2013 in the 21st century and we are still a paradox.

I don’t know.

Maybe that works for some.

Please know that I am not suggesting by any means that we are a great monolith.

If truth be told, there is probably more diversity between Black people than any other ethnic group in America.

All I am suggesting is that we define a core blackness consisting of values, ideas, etc. to help us thrive instead of just surviving in America.

Just my thoughts.

Until next time…