Why I Don’t Like Integration
When I was younger I thought integration was the perfect solution for racism. Now as an adult I realize it was probably the worst thing to ever happen to African Americans.
I understand the concept of equality and having basic rights to live like a normal human being, like drinking out of a water fountain and having the right to vote, but these human rights are drastically different from identity and culture. In my opinion, the lack of identity and culture is precisely what is wrong with Black folks. Many people refer to their history as a blueprint to guide their lives and well, most Black folks can’t trace their roots past their grandparents. Since slavery, Black people were stripped of their land, customs, rituals, culture, family, education and freedom. It’s not a secret that once Black people were freed, the best way for them to function in America was to assimilate and tailor their life to the comfort levels of White people. It’s also not a secret that anything Black always had the worst perceptions and negative connotations attached. Integrating with a society who thought you were three-quarters of a human being and think you should still be working on slave plantations, probably wasn’t the best idea for us. What integration did was forever make Blacks second-class citizens to White people.
I don’t think the average Black person today literally thinks they are a second-class citizen, but they feel it from the laws and systematic oppression set up against Blacks. I also realize there are some people who are so far removed from race relations they feel that because they have it all together, racism doesn’t exist and well, that’s another classic problem with Black people; we are not our brother’s keeper. I am truly learning how detrimental this concept has been on Black society. We allowed our children to be taught by people coming from a lineage of hatred simply based on the color of their skin. We wanted to integrate with these same people, their families and their communities and then wonder why our Black children are failing. We allowed our people to work for the same companies who profited from our ancestors free labor. We were (and still are) willing to do anything to fit in with Corporate America; act White and dress White. We wanted to be a part of their entertainment industry. The same industry who said our entertainment was ignorant, yet stole our style and White-washed it to “now make it popular.” We want to star in their roles even if it means we are the first to die and are somehow demoralized and stripped of our Black cards (i.e. dignity) in the process. We want to wear their clothes even though designers resent their clothes ever being worn by Colored folks. We want to be models based on their standards of beauty even though we know they think our beauty is ugly, nappy and needs to be fixed. We want to emulate their style even if it means tearing down our own. None of these scenarios have anything to do with human principles and everything to do with culture. Black folks never had time to reinvent their culture because they were forced to adopt the culture of their oppressors. Somehow today we have learned to be okay with this and call it the African American way.
I often wondered why we tried so hard to fit in with people who hated us. It’s one thing to be wanted and accepted and another to desire that from people who wish you ill will. I have learned to not care about the opinions of people who do not have me in their best interest. I’m also the same person who would not have been offended because I was too much of a nigga to eat at their restaurants. As much as I love to cook, I would have found other like-minded people and created my own restaurant. I just want to know why we never branched out and built our own, invited our own, accepted our own, invented our own and helped our own, feel free to comment below. I understand that all the Blacks who tried were murdered, assassinated, burned to death or destroyed by riots, but, well… maybe I may have answered my own question. We must not be fearful now and must gain control of our own momentum.
Imagine if Blacks built their own schools and communities instead of marching for justice? Don’t get me wrong, it was necessary at times, but I also feel like we were way too passive about our situations too. Imagine if we didn’t care that people hated the color of our skin and was never bothered by them calling us derogatory names which were derived from the land of our ancestors (Niger-nigger, Negro-nigger, etc.)? I firmly believe when you don’t respond to negativity, it ceases to exist because most people are only looking for a reaction. Imagine if we never let them see us sweat? I would have loved to see us just start our own even if it wasn’t as rich and didn’t have as many resources. In time they would have flourished into empires like our ancestors once built and ruled. If this occurred, it would have been absolutely remarkable. If we stopped focusing on their hatred towards us and loved ourselves, we would have recreated our own sense of identity, beauty and community. I look at the immigrants who migrate to America and wind up in my city. As much as they try to learn the standards of my society, they all find a way to cultivate their own culture. We have places called Little China or Havana where they can buy groceries, shop and have places to fellowship with each other. Even though some people make fun of this or think it is racist, I don’t, I think it’s brilliant! I rarely ever see African stores and communities that are not run down, drugged out and impoverished. I wish Black people built more, but I guess that’s asking a lot from a group of people with no identity or culture to mimic in the first place. In my mind, if we created our own instead of integrating, we would have created an environment of respect that would make people want to mingle with us. This can further be explained by the concept of traveling. Most people want to experience different cultures so I think this would have worked the same way. Instead of people loving our style yet hating us, they would have wanted to experience our culture. People would have respected our differences. I also think this would have taken away the negative perceptions towards Black customs and stopped Black people from hating themselves. Who said thick coils of hair was nappy? Who said dark skin was bad? Who said Blacks can never unite? With that being said, how can we ever expect someone to accept us when we don’t accept ourselves?
I guess the part that just really irritates me about all of this is that people feel like they are doing us a favor with integration. People star us in roles because they feel they should have at least one Black person. People give us jobs to fulfill their affirmative action plans. People put us in commercials to make it seem like they employ diversity. People say they have Black friends because they think it will make them seem less racist. But what if people did these things because they genuinely wanted to experience Black culture? What if Black folks had their own Hollywood and people paid top dollars for their actors and actresses? What if Blacks owned their own entertainment industry and people paid large amounts of money to become involved? What if Blacks owned their own sports teams and traded their own athletes within the league? What if Blacks owned more schools and universities and could truly educate their own people? I just feel like this would have made such a huge difference in race relations. The hatred towards interracial relationships would go away as well for both Blacks and Whites. People would understand why Whites were and are attracted to Blacks because they are just as skilled, beautiful and intelligent as the next. Blacks would slowly leave the mindset that all Whites are supremacists because they have come to terms with their past and present situation. We could finally be seen as one group of people, a group of American people. But until Blacks stop riding the coat tails of their oppressors, we will always remain in this vicious cycle.
Disclaimer: I don’t dislike or hate White people because I have the gift of discernment and can judge people based off their character and not the color of their skin. I don’t get along with White people in my circle to save face or say I have White friends, I do so because I love them as people and how they treat me. In the same regard, just because someone is Black doesn’t mean I tolerate bad treatment from them either, I just understand that we relate with each other; treat people how you want to be treated. But I’m not blind or ignorant to the fact that slave masters and people who happily watched lynchings went on to become our Presidents, politicians, police officers and neighbors. For as many White people who accept me, there are just as many who purposely turn their head when I walk in their direction. This post was written for my people as a wake up call. While I recognize everyone has a history of suffering, I feel the most compelled to first help my own. They always say history repeats itself and honestly I feel like I’m living in 1945; people just hide it underneath systematic oppression. One day we will all overcome the nasty history of America, but until then, I shall continue writing.