What Does It Mean To be Black and Human?

Every human being, no matter what their skin tone, has a body so similar in structure that we can reproduce with each other without any biological encumbrances.  We all have the same cranial capacity, therefore the same cognitive potential, despite what those with a racial bias would like to claim, and if indeed all of humanity is in fact human, then those of us from one race have as much value than those who are not from our own race.

Image result for humanAt a time when young black men are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than their white counterparts and studies show that racial bias is alive and thriving all over this country and indeed the world, it’s safe to say that the perception of black men in America is not improving by any stretch of the imagination.

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“Black” is associated with everything dark, negative, and unwanted. Black is the color of the pits of hell, coffee that spits out, shit, cats that bring misfortune, rotting food that has been abandoned, and the storm clouds that bring destruction. Black is the color of depression; black is the color of death.  So it should not come as any surprise that when an ill-trained cop sees a young black male he is inundated by the negative connotations, thoughts and perceptions that come with the word black which have been so ingrained into his or her psyche that upon any interaction with any black male the officer’s fight or flight instinct kicks in immediately and as we have seen more and more recently this is happening with ultimately fatal results.

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In the 1780s, Thomas Jefferson published his, “Notes on the State of Virginia.” Among his discussions of checks and balances and the separation of church and state, he also addressed the conflict between his position as a slaveholder and his famous words, “all men are created equal.” His argument, simply put, was that black people are not actually human. The differences between whites and blacks that he outlined include that blacks “require less sleep…after hard labor through the day,” are “inferior in reason,” and are covered by an “immoveable veil of black, which covers all the emotions of the other race.”  This country, despite its beautiful propaganda, it seems was founded upon a promise that has proven to be a lie.  For if black men are human, then under the idea that all men are created equal that is the foundation of the Constitution, then police across the country and indeed, throughout the entire criminal justice system are committing state sanctioned murder each and every time they gun down or beat to death an innocent black man because they do not perceive them to be the equals of whites and therefore not deserving of the protections guaranteed every human in American under the Constitution.

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Jefferson’s arguments were so persuasive that they started a wave of pseudoscience with the goal to completely dehumanize and demean blacks to assuage their own moral compasses which were telling them that they, these so-called Christian and God-fearing men, the Founding Fathers, were committing a great abomination in the eyes of their own god.  For example, American physician Samuel A. Cartwright argued that black slaves who fled captivity suffered from a mental illness called Drapetomania, since the Bible calls for a slave to be submissive to his master, and by submitting to the will of God, he would have no desire to flee — if healthy– a clear justification of the institution of slavery and the promotion of Willy Lynch Syndrome.

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In fact, it could be argued that the entire concept of race is pseudoscience. There are no biological or genetic determinants for what we call “race” and as a result, the concept is constantly evolving along with political needs. The categorization system with three options from elementary school has now developed into nearly twenty options. Race is a social construction, and the intent of the creators was to degrade certain groups until oppression seemed logical.

Being Black in America often means being judged before one ever opens one’s mouth. It means knowing that much of the population already have the preconceived idea that blacks are uneducated, loud, and ghetto…It means having to hear others respond to the social injustices that they are facing with words like ‘All Lives Matter,’ as if others saying that ‘police need to stop killing unarmed Black men’ is offensive and questionable enough for debate.

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Blacks have to work three, four times harder just to prove that they are as intelligent or capable as someone with lighter skin than them.  Yet because human life is really about the choices we make and the possibilities that lie before us, this artificial separation of human has led to a deep separation and segregation which does not allow us to discover just how human people of other races really are.

But humanity is intertwined with both biology and culture and although we live in a certain culture, our biological traits, i.e. skin tone, has now come to determine the way we live in the world as well as being embedded in the social world, which is a great travesty and injustice.

And without reflection, interaction and culture we can never expect to engage each other and gain a better understanding of each other as fellow humans, no matter what color one skin tone is.

 

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