“The problem with the statement 'Listen To Black People' is the suggestion that all black people think the same. Because what happens if you listen to one book, and this book says something else? Then where are you? This book says something completely different about how to counter racism, or how to be as a white person in this fight against racism. There is no general consensus when it comes to a lot of these ideas. There isn't.
I disagree with a lot of my black friends. I disagree with a lot of my white friends. And that's the way it should be. The goal I hope is that we can disagree respectfully, and that we can maybe ask each other: 'why do you feel that way?' rather than saying 'you feel this way because of this'.”
“For some of those black people who challenge the dominant meanings assigned to blackness within the black community, the words and phrases Uncle Tom, coon and coconut become all too familiar. They are the adult version of you’re acting white! Paradoxically, in such a situation, the person considered most authentically black is often the most stereotypical. Blackness thus becomes performative: a fixed identity that demands conformity, rather than develops freedom. Affirming blackness provides no roadmap to creating a meaningful and good life—it is merely a mechanism to signal one’s authenticity.”
“We continue to indulge the politically wrong-headed, counterproductive, and even reactionary features of the 'representative black voice' industry in whatever remains of our contemporary public sphere. And we never reckon with the truly disturbing presumption that any black person who can gain access to the public microphone and performs familiar rituals of 'blackness' should be recognized as expressing significant racial truths and deserves our attention.
This presumption rests on the unexamined premise that blacks share a common, singular mind that is at once radically unknowable to non-blacks and readily downloaded by any random individual setting up shop as a racial voice. And despite what all of our age’s many heroic narratives of individualist race-first triumph may suggest to the casual viewer, that premise is the essence of racism.”
— Adolph Reed
“Blackness is supple for shapeshifting. Blackness is a way of seeing, knowing, smelling, moving—the thing that makes us difficult to understand is that there are so many types of blacknesses. I remember when I learned my particular kind, what we’d come to know and call ourselves in college, 'plain blacks.' Plain blacks who, when asked, 'Where are you from?', claim local cities in the US like Oakland, or Detroit, or Brooklyn. Those of us who when pressed for more, 'No but where are your people from?' and respond Texas, Mississippi, New Orleans, somewhere in the South, and when pressed more, realize that there is no record beyond that. But we keep it moving. Blackness is the greatest experimental poem. Blackness could be just about anything if…”
— Kai M Green
“We need to reflect and think about the nuances of Blackness. In contemporary terms, continental and diasporic Africans need to work together and speak a powerful language against discrimination, racism, Middle Passage and continued exclusion from educational, health and other social institutions. But, as we do that we should not lose sight of the fact that Blackness is a historically contingent category that is always-already multicultural (Jamaicans are not Ghanaians), multilingual (Black Brazilians speak Portuguese while Tanzanians speak Swahili), multiethnic, multinational and more than ever heterogeneous.”
“Racial metanarratives are inherently limiting. It’s very difficult for Black Africans, much less Black Europeans and Black peoples of the Pacific and Central and South America, to read themselves through the dominant (US) framings of Blackness. For example, if you are a Kenyan living in Mombasa, chances are high that your greatest preoccupation is not racist white cops, but violence from Black Kenyan policemen. And here we are, one scholar Zimbabwean/South African, the other a US citizen born and raised in Western Europe, both women, myself queer. The 'Middle Passage' epistemology fails because it dictates that you belong to the past and I belong to the present and future. But history, nationality, gender, class and sexuality intersected us here at this exchange even as we came through different paths and bring different experiences, outlooks and philosophies.”
“Black diversity, that phrase you never hear, is real but it is always smothered for the premises of black cultural and political unity, and by the liberal confirmation bias that assumes it. That's why it's not part of today's narrative. That's why George Floyd's dead body means so much more than his life. It can't defy the narrative. It generated a perfect storm because it was racially predestined.”
— Michael DC Bowen
“Black Americans, like other individuals, are more than their chosen or assigned racial identity. They have multiple identities that intersect or overlap in ways not anticipated by law's conventional unitary approach to race-based discrimination. Increasingly these cultural and imposed identities influence both how we see ourselves and how others see us in America. The political and cultural division between black ethnics is an example of multiplicity within a racialized legal identity—black multiplicity.”
“I'm against the Black Lives Matter as a political movement because it is a racially essentialist movement. You could even say it's a racist movement. I know that's a very radical thing to say, and I don't mean to cast aspersions. I just mean literally it essentializes blackness.
All lives matter. Now I know you can't say that because the meaning of those words now, in context, is freighted with a whole lot of other stuff. If you say it, it's like saying 'Blue Lives Matter'. It's taking sides. It's like being 'anti-anti-racist'. But it's just true.
The notion that race is the central thing driving these outcomes is wrong. It's just in error. People should be disabused of it.”