Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?


One of the things I enjoy most about social media (Twitter specifically) is the ability to converse with people you may not get to in your normal routine of life.  I get on the interwebs and have fun (as you probably know since you’re online reading this).  One of the unexpected benefits that I’ve found over time is a number of people who are willing to have intelligent back and forths about whatever is on their minds.  Especially for an intellect like myself, the way I get better is by being challenged and thinking about how or why I feel a certain way.

Most of my followers are great for this but here are 4 guys you may know, that I follow who make my ‘Twitter barbershop’ (patent pending on that name…)

alpha1906: (Lawrence Ross) Respected black author, we met when he was promoting his book The Divine Nine.  A straight up L.A. guy, and dare I say an even more avid sports fan than myself (I don’t really do soccer).  In true Alpha style, he has an opinion on everything, but when it’s not ‘nation time’, he can be as silly as they come.

MistaChuckD: On the other hand, it’s ALWAYS Nation Time with Chuck, which is what we all love about him.  In this Twitter family analogy, Chuck is the big brother you don’t even bother unless you already got your ish together.  You think you know the answer and you go to Public Enemy Number One, and he’ll have you considering things you hadn’t thought of.

Roland Martin: Also a frat brother, Roland is the ‘loud’ one, or the ‘host’ of the get together (pun intended).  In real life he’d be the brother who won’t let you bring anything messy into his house or Cadillac (or ascot) cause he takes too much pride in being the cleanest of the brothers.  Like the others though, when someone (anyone) gets too far out of line, the jokes will stop and he’ll call you out on it.  Everybody needs at least one guy like that in their corner.

And then there’s Toure.  I see him as the educated rebel.  Some of Chuck’s ability to agitate, some of Lawrence’s appreciation for history, some of Roland’s charisma.  But definitely his own guy. When you were kids, he talked you into throwing rocks at the neighbor’s window.  If you were a boy he’d be the brother or cousin who you had the most fistfights with.  But it was never out of malice; he genuinely needed to know if you had the ability to beat him up.   And pushing people’s buttons was just icing on the cake.  So that brings us to his newest book, ‘Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?’

Let’s start with the title, or rather the phrase ‘Post-Black’, which definitely irks some people. I even got some side profile from a sista who wanted me to explain it in a tweet when she saw us talking (thanks Toure).  I couldn’t do it then but I’ll do my best to break it down here:

‘Post-Black’ as Toure means it (or as I interpret it), is meant to represent the post Civil Rights generation that is undeniably proud of being Black, but at the same time want the freedom to say, ‘But that’s not all I am.” In the book and in discussions he often uses the talking point of ‘what Black people don’t do’ which is part of it, but the full defintion of this should also include ‘what Black people aren’t.’  He goes into the ‘talking white’ point and ‘the closer you are to the ghetto the Blacker you are’ myths; to my point I think he could have gone deeper into how many interracial people and gays have to deal with the identity crisis of ‘You’re not really Black” or “the Black community will not accept who you are”.  Moving on…

For the heavy subject matter I thought the book was an enjoyable read.  The intro was written by Michael Eric Dyson, who I’m also a fan of.  Having said that, if you thought my intro for this piece was heavy, you probably want to skip the intro for the book.  I’ve got my Masters degree, and I was still reading Dyson’s part saying to myself, “Brother, I’m lying in bed trying to decompress, lay off the big money words….”

Once Toure takes over, the flow is much easier to get into.  I especially liked the chapter about Obama (one of the better pieces I feel that breaks down exactly how and why he’s been on a zero tolerance way of live since he won that primary in Iowa), and his personal stories about returning to Africa (I still don’t know if I agree with his point, but he makes a strong case for why it’s understandable but false that we refer to ourselves as ‘African-Americans’).

I went and shook the brother’s hand tonight when he was in town for a Q&A.  He opened up by saying this book wasn’t supposed to be ‘the Answer’ but a conversation starter, and I certainly think it’s that.  Damn agitator. (Kidding Toure).

If the writing is unclear below, he signed my copy, ‘Malik, Always be Black however the Hell you want!”  Well, it’s like they say, ‘Once you go to the Opera, you don’t go back.’ Or something to that effect.  Nevertheless, have a good weekend everybody.

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