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The Culture of Anti- Blackness

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

Written by: Journei Green

Historically, anti-Blackness was used to diminish Black people after slavery. This racist tactic has been used over the years to successfully turn non-Black People of Color and White people against Black people in one form or another. While this term is relatively new to many people in the conversation surrounding racial injustice, much of the racial oppression in the United States is rooted in anti-Blackness. There are various examples of anti-Blackness throughout past and present-day culture, even permeating into pop culture. For instance, the film Birth of a Nation can be seen as a backing for the horrible atrocities done by the KKK to African Americans.

Anti-Blackness is defined as resistant or antagonistic sentiment towards Black people, as well as their values or objectives. It touches nearly every part of daily life, as it is strengthened through various institutions and supports systemic racism. For example, one anti-Black strategy is non-Black people using African American Vernacular English (aka AAVE) as a type of minstrel act. To break it down, Black people use AAVE as a form of communication, while non-Black people use it in the form of a joke or mockery. Another tactic is the overall disregard for African American culture. Unlike other cultures, African American culture has become mainstream and popularized. However, when the topic of gatekeeping comes into question, African Americans are gaslighted into allowing non-Black people to profit off of their culture. Due to society's skewed standards and oppressive attitudes, Black people aren’t allowed to gatekeep because, historically, they have not been given bodily consent. This has equally filtered through traditions, food, entertainment, and more. Another tactic is non-Black People of Color using the actions of a couple of Black people to diminish the positive work that Black social groups have done. This thought process is usually a cop-out to be racially insensitive and anti-Black.

Anti-Blackness could be categorized as a form of microaggression, but a microaggression is a diet form of racism. In current times, many people think that racism is only overt. This couldn’t be farther from the truth and causes a disregard for racism in all aspects. Usually, when Black people speak out about racism, they are told that “they "always bring up race” or “not everything is about race”. These words are extremely harmful anti-Black sentiment and are seen as racial gaslighting.

As a society, to work past anti-Black tactics, we have to educate ourselves on the correct definitions of racial terminology. We also have to be considerate of the things we say. This is seemingly simple but actually very difficult in reality, due to the nature of individualism in America and the American systems rooted in oppression. Society must give BIPOC enough room to determine which parts of their culture are sacred, without demonizing our practices.

Definitions to know:

Anti-blackness: resistant or antagonistic to Black people or their values or objectives:

AAVE: a nonstandard variety of English spoken by some African Americans

Minstrel: a member of a type of performance troupe caricaturing black performers that originated in the U.S. in the early 19th century

Gaslight: to attempt to make (someone) believe that he or she is going insane (as by subjecting that person to a series of experiences that have no rational explanation)

Gatekeeping: the activity of controlling, and usually limiting, general access to something

Racial gaslighting: the political, social, economic, and cultural process that perpetuates and normalizes a white supremacist reality through pathologizing those who resist

Microaggression: a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority.

Overt racism: This is deliberate and intentional prejudice or discriminative actions directed towards someone from a different race.



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