You don’t have to shed your Blackness in order to be enlightened

What was once an inside joke has now become a dangerous ideology that has taken off in the age of wokeness and Travel Noire.

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Everyone knows that one person in the crew who swears up and down that they have Native American ancestral roots. It’s almost common in Black households for family members to rep native tribes without no official reservation documents for proof. The running joke of “I’m not really Black, I got some Cherokee in me” has been used in pop culture for years.

But what was once an inside joke has now become a dangerous ideology that has taken off in the age of wokeness and Travel Noire.

Fake deep, pseudo-intellectuals, and the well-traveled are now trying to embrace this false sense of globalism as a way to divorce themselves of their Black identity to appear more insightful. Oddly enough, many of them have began to deny being Black at all as if it can be turned off like a light switch.

A recent example of such foolery came from the very-Black rapper Waka Flocka, who declared this weekend on the radio show, “Sway In The Morning,” that “I’m not African-American at all.”

“My folks is not from Africa. A lot of people in this room’s folks ain’t from Africa. Might be a couple, but people just don’t understand,” said the “Hard In the Paint” lyricist. “I asked my grandma, ‘Yo grandma, what’s your background?’ She said ‘Red foot and black tail Indian.’ I said, ‘What?’ She said, ‘Yeah.’ My mother and my father, we 100 percent Indians.’ I asked my other grandmother, and we got Cherokee in us, and European and Italian. A little Dominican.”

To be fair, he admitted later in the interview that “I’m uneducated. I’m confused,” but continued the ignorance by adding, “But I’m damn sure not Black. You’re not gonna call me Black.”

This is not how any of this works.

Is Waka really gonna act like he hasn’t lived his entire life as a Black rapper from Atlanta who later starred on ratchet Black reality television? Not today, Satan.

I can’t even act like Waka is the only celebrity or person who has tried this stunt — I’m still side-eyeing Raven “I’m from every continent in Africa except one” Symone for those cringeworthy remarks. While many presume this is a new way of viewing racial identity, what we are really witnessing is repackaged anti-Blackness being presented as a woke awakening.

Self-inflicted white supremacy looks like being quick to denounce your Blackness while upholding another nationalities. When one adamantly goes out of their way to say “I’m not just Black” it can easily imply that being Black is insufficient or a demotion. When Black people glamorize the small percentages of other racial groups within their identity, it further perpetuates the exotic desirability of them above Blackness. No shade, but outside of the very white Rachel Dolezal, you don’t see white folks running to attribute other aspects of their identity to diversify as much as we do on the opposite end.

Translation: Deep-seated white supremacy has always put pressure on us to distance ourselves from Blackness, while white folks remain steadfast in their dominant identity.

Sure, I probably have some other nationalities within my gene pool outside of African countries — but I’m also not obsessed with representing those identities before my Blackness. Because when I navigate this very racist country, white folks are not seeing me as a global citizen, but as a Black man, and my experiences reflect just that. I doubt that my world will change if others knew I just so happen to have 5 percent Italian and 2 percent German in my ancestry — because my Blackness is more powerful than that.

So, when people ask me how I identify, I honestly say “I’m just Black.” Because despite how much we think masking under all of these nationalities will save us — it won’t. The only one that has forever invoked survival, resilience, and brilliance despite every obstacle that stood in its way has been Blackness. That’s all I am, that’s all I need to be.


Ernest Owens is the Editor of Philadelphia magazine’s G Philly. He has written for USA Today, NBC News, BET, HuffPost and several other major publications. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and