“Some view racial membership as an immutable status — you are born black and that is it. I do not. I view choice as an integral element of membership. In my view, a person (or at least an adult person) should be black by choice, with a recognized right of resignation.
Carrying through with that contractualist conception, I also believe that a black person should have no immunity from being de-blacked. Any Negro should be subject to having his or her membership in blackness revoked if he or she pursues a course of conduct that convincingly demonstrates the absence of even a minimal communal allegiance.”
— Randall Kennedy
“Even though there is consensus that the Black Social Movement has advanced the fight for the rights of historically marginalised people, it is also visible that it reproduces oppressive behaviors by remaining silent on the demands considered less important, such as questions of gender, gender identity and sexuality.
Part of the problem is related to widespread presence of cis, heterosexual men as leaders of the main organisations that fight for the rights of the black population. Their demands are connected to their lives and realities, which reinforces some stereotypes. These include the naturalisation of the idea that ‘blackness is constituted through the normalisation of the heterosexual black man, represented by the emblematic virility of his physical force, aggressive nature, violence, hearty apetite for sex and powerful penis.’ Within this logic, travesti or trans identity is something completely disconnected from blackness. Trans bodies, identities and subjectivities will not have a place within the Black Social Movement, as their ‘lives are not considered lives and materiality is understood as not important.’”
— Megg Rayara Gomes De Oliveira
“Because blacks live amidst such hunger for the moral authority of their race, we embraced protest as a permanent identity in order to capture the fruits of white guilt on an ongoing basis. Again, this was our first fall by our own hand. Still, it is hard to imagine any group of individuals coming out of four centuries of oppression and not angling their identity toward whatever advantage seemed available. White guilt held out the promise of a preferential life in recompense for past injustice, and the protest identity seemed the best way to keep that promise alive.
An obvious problem here is that we blacks fell into a group identity that has absolutely no other purpose than to collect the fruits of white guilt. And so the themes of protest–a sense of grievance and victimization–evolved into a sensibility, an attitude toward the larger world that enabled us always and easily to feel the grievance whether it was there or not. Protest became the mask of identity, because it defined us in a way that kept whites 'on the hook.' Today the angry rap singer and Jesse Jackson and the black-studies professor are all joined by an unexamined devotion to white guilt.”
— Shelby Steele
“A never-quite-vanquished nationalism remains a poignantly unavoidable source for frictions between the articulation of group identities—those persistent fictions—and individual negotiations of either more-or-less orthodox cultural allegiance or cosmopolitan openness (even assimilationism). For most minority entities, then, a measure of cultural nationalism—or group unity—has been a prize element of their steady existences as quote-unquote communities. The hazard of nationalism—its tendency to decay into fallacious myths, misty romanticisms, and blood-rite fascisms—persists, then, despite the globally swaddling and homogenizing embrace of IBM and Coca-Cola.
Black intellectuals possess no immunity against the potentially toxic allure of nationalism. Rather, we have been notorious for being either ‘too’ doctrinairely race-conscious, or nation-conscious (consider Malcolm X), or for not being conscious ‘enough’ (consider Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.).”
— George Elliott Clarke