Tommy Hawkins explains how not all Black culture is the same. Hawkins is appalled that people still group all Black people into the same category. Hawkins gives some examples from his experience and writes that it is up to all cultures of Blacks to correct people when they make this mistake of “being black”.
I have definitely seen this idea throughout the media. Black people in the United States are either grouped into African-American or African. Even though there are so many different cultures of Black that do not fit in these two categories i.e. Haitian, Jamaican, or Afro-Latino. Even within these different cultures people are not all the same they come from different socio-economic backgrounds, different cities, share different experiences etc. Making everybody with Black skin the same needs to be stopped. Everyone, has their own unique ideas, perspectives, and cultures. Some, cultures may overlap or be similar, but saying one culture is the exact same is not correct.
Ali D. Chambers wrote an opinion piece on why Greek culture is detrimental to the Black community. The argument proposed is that Black fraternities and sororities were established to assimilate into White culture. This is because White is seen as the best and what African Americans should strive for. So, therefore these fraternities and sororities were made in the already established images of White Greek organizations so that African Americans could be accepted and considered equal. This argument is similar to Langhston Hughes “Racial Mountain”. Chambers also writes that the organizations are filled with elitism and colorism, through “secret meetings” and “exclusivity”.
While, I do believe that Black fraternities and sororities had to assimilate, I do not believe it was because they wanted to be White. Even though these Greek organizations are structured like already established White ones before them, White fraternities and sororities were not letting in Blacks so they created their own. Even if Blacks were let into Greek life, the goals of those fraternities or sororities were not focused on bettering Black lives. Therefore, the reasoning for creating these organizations are to help the Black community and uphold cultural traditions. For example, these organizations may do volunteer work within the Black community and also give scholarships. Stepping is also very popular and has roots established in the gumboot dances in south Africa.
However, when these organizations began there was a lot of colorism such as the brown paper bag test. Blacks the color of the paper bag or lighter were allowed into the sororities or fraternities while those darker were not. This stems somewhat from slavery because the lighter slaves were treated better usually because they were related to the slave master. This created a tension between darker and lighter Blacks, with lighter meaning that they are better. Colorism, in the sororities and fraternities, has improved tremendously from when they first were established. I agree that colorism and elitism can still be seen today, but I do not agree with Chambers that these organizations were created to promote these elitist ideas. Rather, I think that these organizations are by-products of society.
Recently in Montgomery, Alabama; a lynching museum was created to honor victims of lynching. The Montgomery Advertiser, a newspaper in the city, wrote an article about the museum and apologized for the part previous staff members played in promoting lynching culture.
The current newspaper staff apologized for their predecessors reporting, on lynchings and saying that African Americans deserved to be lynched for crimes they were accused of.
The past newspaper staff was very critical and biased of the Montgomery bus boycotts and the Selma to Montgomery march. Furthermore, as the Selma march was taking place they did not quote MLK properly, and did not accurately report his messages.
Montgomery played such a critical role in the Civil Rights movement. Creating a lynching museum and having the current newspaper staff apologize shows progression. White Supremacy and lynchings were very pervasive in Montgomery, but the fact that there are these changes, proves how influential certain groups like the SNCC or SCLC were. Also, groups today such as Black Lives Matter that continue to advocate for change.
When reading “The Negro Artist and The Racial Mountain” I began to think about my high school experience. Some of the Black students would say that another Black student is “talking white” or “sounds white”, when that person spoke with proper grammar rather than slang and/or cursing. They would also comment on how certain white people were “acting Black”. When one student was considered to be “acting Black” they would be goofing off, disruptive, disobedient, and talking inappropriately. These statements make blackness sound less than, and uneducated, while white is “unconsciously a symbol of all the virtues” (Racial Mountain). This is similar to the “Negro poet” wanting “to be white” (Racial Mountain).
White is considered to be the standard and what Blacks must strive to be. The” white man does things”(Racial Mountain) well and Black people are supposed to follow his example.
The internalization of negative stereotypes is very prevalent in the Black community. Some people actually believe that, “talking white” is better and means that you are educated, while in actuality they are speaking like how any person speaks their language. Some people in the Black community hold on to these stereotypes about themselves which just perpetuates the negativity. They may believe that since they can never be white they will never be good enough. These views can effect them in different aspects of their lives i.e. school, and jobs. They may give up because they know that they cannot reach the white standard, which can cause other problems in their life as well.
In 1915, Dubois asks an important question pertaining to race and class conflict. He wonders why lower; working class Whites are not helping the exploited Asians, and Blacks. Since, all of them are in the working class he analyzes why the working class Whites side with the upper class Whites. DuBois thinks that it would make more sense for the working class to work together because they are all exploited as a whole. However, this does not happen because the working class Whites, identify more with their race rather than their socioeconomic standing.
I found myself asking a similar question when president Trump was elected. The media showed White people of all backgrounds supporting Trump. Many, lower class Whites were especially prone to voting for him. I thought about why this was. After reading “African Roots of War”, I now have a clearer answer.
I would never have thought someone would say Trump is relatable or like the common man. I would think that him being apart of the upper class would produce the opposite effect. That he would not have the lower class best interest at heart and would not be relatable to the average American. I have heard these statements however, not because of class, but because of his race. The shared race makes him relatable to a working class White person, just like it did in 1915. They also are not exploited as much as someone who does not share their race, even though they are not in the same class. Even after a hundred plus years, DuBois examples can still be seen in society today.