My blackness isn’t for sale

Kennedy Brookins

From the moment we were stolen from our homeland to this very day in 2016, African-Americans have been brainwashed to believe that black is ugly. In a society where blackness is counted against you, self-love and love for the community have not only been acts of defiance for blacks, but also our saving graces.

          

America, however, has made it clear that being unapologetically black is not okay. This is evident in recent pop culture events, like Cam Newton being referred to as a “thug” for celebratory dances similar to the ones performed by many white players and Beyoncé being boycotted for a song that reclaims and celebrates black stereotypes.

 

With Black Empowerment Week at the University of Texas at Austin recently coming to an end, students on campus are still reflecting on what it means to be black and proud.

          

For sophomore African and African Diaspora Studies major Megan Denman blackness is “being able to claim the culturethat unique mix of African, European, slave and Native American elements all in one.”

          

Pride in and outright love for the traditions we were raised on is essential to blackness. Equally important is pride in our bodies. Yet, when we celebrate things like our melanin, Jackson 5 nostrils and thick lips, white Americans react in outrage. As if to say, “No, you can’t do that! Your body isn’t for you!” As if blackness has become something regulated by whites, for whites.

          

During events dedicated to admiring our culture, such as #BlackOutDay, whites realize they can’t fully be apart of them. Further, being unapologetically black isn’t tangible—it’s a mindset and a way of life. So, maybe even more important than not being able to partake in them, many realize they can’t capitalize off of them.

          

Denman adds that whites are only comfortable with the kinds of blackness that can be bought, traded and sold.

          

She said, “When it’s Kanye or Beyoncé tickets, or a vintage Jordan jersey, or when the new Yeezy’s come out that’s when white people want it.”

          

Please understand this: black culture is more than the catchy rap songs you play at your house party. It is more than the hottest new fashion and style trends. It is the pain, suffering and opposition faced by our ancestors who were kings and queens, slaves and abolitionists, fighters and survivors. This is our culture, both the ugly and the beautiful, and we’re embracing it all.

          

African-American students at UT Austin embrace this culture in many ways. Organizations like Black Student Alliance make it their mission to empower black students on campus. BSA’s President, Jennell Benson, adamantly speaks out against concealing who we are for the comfort of others. “There shouldn’t be a difference between being black and being an American, but there is,” she said. “The only way to change that is to start identifying with the culture and stop apologizing for it.”

          

So, here it goeswe love being black! We are beautiful not despite of our blackness, but because of it. We stand proud in our dark skin and wear our Afros as crowns. We love us and we’re not sorry that you can’t make a product out of that.

 

Brookins is a psychology junior from McKinney. Follow her on Twitter @kenneteaa.