“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
“What is blackness? Is it cultural (eg: Africana culture; what does Africana even mean outside of a purely sociohistorical context in or relating to American (continental) slavery)? Is it biological (eg: pigmentation, hair texture, etc.)? Is it sociological (eg: race as social construct)? Or an uneven mix of all three?”
— X Gerard Lee
“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
“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
“There is no—nor, really, has there ever been—one true 'black community.' There is no one quintessential 'black experience.' There is no 'black economic class'—there are, in fact, many, ranging from cosmopolitan elites like the Carters or the Obamas to the family still grieving Freddie Gray’s murder. And there is no collective black vision for a just America.”
— Kaila Philo
“I was one year younger than Trayvon Martin when he was killed in 2012, and like many black men, I felt like he could have been me. I was the same age as Michael Brown when he was killed in 2014, and like so many others, I shared the BLM hashtag on social media to express solidarity. By 2015, when the now-familiar list had grown to include Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, and Walter Scott, I began wearing a shirt with all their names on it. It became my favorite shirt. It seemed plain to me that these were not just tragedies, but racist tragedies. Any suggestion to the contrary struck me as at best, ignorant, and at worst, bigoted.
My opinion has slowly changed. I still believe that racism exists and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms; I still believe that, on average, police officers are quicker to rough up a black or Hispanic suspect; and I still believe that police misconduct happens far too often and routinely goes unpunished. But I no longer believe that the cops disproportionately kill unarmed black Americans.
Two things changed my mind: stories and data.”
— Coleman Hughes
“So the thing about police shootings of black people is that it’s always the same story, over and over again. Similar details, similar outcomes, just again and again. And it struck me that these people were living their lives before they got defined by this story, the police shooting story, and these lives were all unique and different stories, but this one story was always the same, a singular story that invaded other stories like an infection.”
— Violet Allen
What we all ought to seek is not universalism but transcendence, which cannot be achieved without honoring the particular. Transcendence cannot come from romanticizing the suffering of a people or by universalizing it—which is ultimately a form of ignoring it.”
— Chloé Valdary