You absolutely can be pro-Black and be in an interracial relationship
OPINION: A recent article made the absurd suggestion that a Black person can’t be both. Are we still policing Blackness like this in 2022?
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
I just read an article that put a certain sound in my ears. It was the sound of the siren of the Blackness police. You know that whine that comes whenever someone tries to tell you how to be Black and what the boundaries of acceptable Blackness are. We’re still doing this in 2022? We’re still telling each other if you do this or don’t do that, then you ain’t really all the way Black? Really? Hey, if you ain’t “really Black,” can you escape police attention or the tentacles of systemic racism? No? OK, so what are we really talking about? Not behaving the way some Black people think we should? Um, OK.
So yeah, this article about how you can’t be pro-Black and in an interracial relationship had me like, wow. I mean, the nerve, nay, the audacity, nay, the negro-acity to come for those of us who married outside the race like that means we are somehow outside of the race or have done wrong by the race. I can’t. Black baby Jesus, walk with me because I can’t deal with this crap alone. But, dear reader, even though I can’t, I will. Let’s deconstruct this diseased idea.
The dichotomy is absurd—either you’re pro-Black, or you’re dating a non-Black person, but if dating a non-Black person, then you’re what, anti-Black? Neutral Black? A traitor??? Is my pro-Blackness surrendered at the altar, or do I lose it before then? Does it make a difference if my partner is biracial? Am I then semi-pro-Black? Or is it semi-anti-Black? So confused. But wait, the argument is that I’m not pro-Black because my partner isn’t Black, but help me understand this: If my non-Black partner married outside of their race, if they chose a Black person, then doesn’t that make them pro-Black? It gets so messy when you try to police Blackness.
I’m sure the idea that you can either be pro-Black or be in a relationship with a Black person will come as a shock to my sister, Vice President Kamala Harris. Is John Legend not pro-Black? His music seems very pro-Black to me—he wrote the epic song “Glory” for Ava DuVernay’s film Selma. Is Jordan Peele not pro-Black even though his movies have consistently given us dark-skinned Black actors that he’s lit and shot in ways that make their skin look so beautiful that it challenges us to reconsider societal beauty notions that favor lighter skin people? Alfre Woodard and Serena Williams are clearly pro-Black in the way they work and move through the world. Richard Pryor and Quincy Jones and Sidney Poitier are incredibly important Black artists. Are we really saying Kanye ain’t pro-Black? OK, that’s a problematic example. Forget I said that. But, uh, are we saying his ex-brother-in-law, Travis Scott, ain’t pro-Black? Iman ain’t pro-Black? Halle Berry ain’t? Tina Turner ain’t? I’m not pro-Black??? I’m shocked.
I am absolutely pro-Black. A love of Black people shapes my politics and my cultural choices. I love Black people, and I feel deeply connected to and responsible to the ancestors who fought and died so I could have the life choices that I have. I feel myself standing on their shoulders almost tangibly, and I make professional choices that I hope honor them. I majored in African-American studies when I was in college, and 10 years ago, I wrote a book investigating what it means to be Black in the modern world called Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? I also married a woman who was born in Lebanon. The choice to date and marry her was not a statement on Blackness—our wedding ceremony honored both African-American and Lebanese traditions. Rev. Run from Run-DMC was our officiant, and we jumped over a broom like our ancestors did. Why did I choose her? The heart moves in mysterious ways, and humans are complex and multifaceted. We can have contradictions and yet still be in harmony. Being with her doesn’t mean I am any less pro-Black—Blackness is a part of me that she embraces. I’m unapologetically Black and proud wherever I go and no matter who I’m with.
I didn’t realize people were still out here trying to shame Black people who are in interracial relationships in public. That’s just so 1990. To think you can stand in judgment of someone’s Blackness because of who they’ve married is so silly. My Blackness is not so fragile as to be damaged by being with my wife. But are there other ways that I can cancel my pro-Black card? Please tell me. If I listen to the Beatles or visit Paris or attend a Shakespeare play, am I losing my religion—excuse me—my Blackness? Or is it possible that I can perform and embody my Blackness the way I want without being judged? Is it possible that my Blackness is powerful enough to roll with me wherever I go and whatever I do? I think it is. I also this that part of being truly pro-Black means loving Black people enough to understand that we are all Black in our own way.
Touré is the host of the podcast “Touré Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is also the author of seven books.
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