There’s no doubt that there has been critical legal and systemic reform in how Black people are treated in the United States. But culturally, things seem like they have not changed, and they have gotten worse.
Growing up, natural features such as larger thighs, darker than average skin, box braids, and big lips, among other things, were always the go to when insulting an African American person. But now, in 2020, these things are trendy. It is as if things made for and by Black people are somewhat socially acceptable, unless it’s used for or by Black people.
Not to mention there has been a double standard created around the same things that both Black and white people alike use.
Let’s take hair, for example.
Hair extensions are a universal tool used by African American, white, Asian, and most ethnic groups. But when referring to African American women’s hair, there are always backhanded comments, such as “Your weave is so pretty!” or “Is that your real hair?”
These comments are never made toward other ethnicities who utilize the same methods of hair extension. Due to races and cultures integrating on social media, this opens the door for seeing how other races culturally style themselves. For centuries, Black women have been utilizing braids, dating back to 3500 B.C.
The women would use braids to identify themselves and their tribe members and would teach them to their children, passing it down. These same braids would later aid slaves. Before being taken to the United States for slavery, the women would sew grains of rice or other small seeds into the braids so that the slaves on the ships with inhumane living conditions would be able to eat something. And then, after the use of stars to map their escapes, slaves would use braiding patterns to escape the plantations. Braiding is a fundamental element of Black history, but it also causes unnecessary problems for us.
In the last few years, we have heard stories of Black women being ejected from their places of work, students dismissed from school, and even a Black child forcibly having his hair cut with scissors by his coach before being allowed to compete in a wrestling match.
A double standard also accompanies this assault on Black people’s hair. We are seeing a rise of white women utilize box braids. Now the fact that they are using braids is not the problem. But where the problem lies is that Black women are being called ghetto, unprofessional, and the double standard is even affecting them monetarily because of their dismissal from their jobs.
Another way this country, particularly this generation, continues to dismiss Black people is their use and incorrect use of African American Vernacular English. The short and sweet definition of AAVE could be described as a shared vocabulary exclusively by Black people, learned either from our community or generationally.
It is common that with such exposure to other cultures, it means picking up on their mannerisms and vocabulary. But again, the problem is that Black people are being picked on and discriminated against because of this. Their language is usually concluded to be “ghetto,” whereas when other races use it, it is once again trendy.
Things such as the “Purrd” phrase coined by Black influencer Rolling Ray or the term “It’s the…for me” are all examples of AAVE that was siphoned from the Black community and now referred to as “Gen Z slang.”
But ∂ from social groups that are mainly white or other races.
In my time here at Troy (which has only been around six and a half months), I have noticed that the Black person in mostly white groups is always talked over or completely excluded. There are no large scale-spaces on campus for Black students to gather formally.
With large houses that project their names, the white fraternities and sororities can engage with the campus, potentially drawing in more members. Of course, the Black Student Union, Elite 101 Men, and M.I.S.S Elite exist and offer Black students a community to join, but these are simply student initiatives.
The university itself must take the initiative to provide a general area for Black students and their respective groups to meet.
We are not a unified country; we are simply one coexisting with each other. This war on Black culture must end.
This Black History Month, don’t merely observe history but take steps to omit these bad habits this country has embraced.