Featured, Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

I’m In Love With Black People Who Love Being Black People. And Love Black People

It’s not terribly uncommon for me to write and/or publish a piece that deals with race — whether its a satirical quiz about a certain strain of regressive pro-Blackness or a piece from one of our writers about a reality show featuring women not quite sure if they’re Black — and receive feedback that either questions my agenda or explicitly states I must have some anti-Black agenda. Often, the people making these claims will mention that I work/write for EBONY and The Root — publications that people who love to accuse other Black people of being anti-Black love to cite as not being Black-owned. Therefore, since the publications I receive paychecks from are run by White people (They’re not. I’m just playing along here.), my agenda is clear.

Admittedly, I can see how someone could craft that argument based off of my work. I’m somewhat schizophrenic when it comes to what I choose to write about. Monday, for instance, in a six hour span, I wrote an emotionally draining piece about a woman who was murdered after leaving a bar, a considerably lighter piece for The Root about Macklemore and why I’m not feeling his new song, and then an even lighter piece for VSB comparing Stacey Dash to a Bratz doll. And, it’s not difficult to imagine someone reading all of this and wondering where the hell my head must be at. Also, if a person isn’t familiar with my work, and comes across a piece like the Hotep quiz or the Shit Bougie Black People Love series, I can see how someone could either A) not realize the pieces are intended to be humorous or B) realize they’re humorous, but be not quite sure of who they’re supposed to be making light of.

With that in mind, let me clear this up today. The people accusing me of having an agenda are right. I do have one, and I intend on it permeating everything I produce. I want everything I write and everything I create to be marinated in it. They’re just wrong about the actual agenda.

I love being a Black person. And I’m in love with Black people. Particularly Black people who also love being Black people and don’t attempt to minimize or just completely neutralize the Blackness they possess. My “agenda” is to articulate, celebrate, examine, deconstruct, and, ultimately, honor and spread this love by creating spaces where this is able to happen. And, just as importantly, to show other Black people who claim to love Black people that their love is incomplete — valueless, actually — if it’s restrictive, regressive, and doesn’t include people who don’t fit some inverse ideal of what Blackness is supposed to be. Your love for Black people doesn’t mean shit if it doesn’t include Black women. Or Black men. Or Black homosexuals. Or Black atheists. Or Black Christians. Or Black…you get my point. If your love subjugates and discriminates, it’s not love. It’s vanity.

Naturally, you can not love every single Black person. But while you can — and probably should — put conditions on that love based on what that particular Black person happens to do if it directly damages other people (sexual assault, murder, putting kale in the potato salad, etc) you cannot put conditions on that love based on who that particular Black person was born to be. And still claim to love us.

Of course, there are Black people who believe that making Blackness inclusive is inherently anti-Black because it “weakens” us. Whatever and whoever doesn’t fit their ideal of what makes a stronger Black community — whether its feminism or atheism or being Christian or being queer — are cancers that need to be eradicated. But what they don’t get is that this journey includes all of us. If it doesn’t, there’s no journey. No community. No love. No point.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • iamnotakata

    “I love being a Black person. And I’m in love with Black people. Particularly Black people who also love being Black people and don’t attempt to minimize or just completely neutralize the Blackness they possess.” All of this!!

    I would definitely say anyone accusing you of being anti Black has not been an activity participant in the awesomeness that is VSB for very long!! As someone who has been hanging in the cut with yall since 09′ Damon you sir are Black as h ell!! I have never gotten the anti Black sense from you and I love your writing style!

  • I really appreciate your efforts, Mr. Young. Keep fighting the good fight.

    Also, you know it was BBP athletic event when only like 4 people brought cleats and and no one is the least bit dirty.

  • Mimzi

    My favorite thing you’ve ever written in 5+ years of reading your work.

  • YeaSoh

    >insert black power fist here<

  • Courtney Wheeler

    Honestly…when I feel like the world and everyone in it is making me insane…I’m come here..I read something intelligent/thought provoking/depressing/straight up hilarious on this website and all is right in the world. Thanks dude.

  • miss t-lee

    “I love being a Black person. And I’m in love with Black people. Particularly Black people who also love being Black people and don’t attempt to minimize or just completely neutralize the Blackness they possess. My “agenda” is to articulate, celebrate, examine, deconstruct, and, ultimately, honor and spread this love by creating spaces where this is able to happen”

    You guys do a fantastic job.

    Keep up the good work.

    https://media.giphy.com/media/l41m3DOjA3HM1v4Yg/giphy.gif

    • Brother Mouzone

      “Particularly Black people who also love being Black people and don’t attempt to minimize or just completely neutralize the Blackness they possess.”……………………. THIS HERE! I really don’t need to hear about the 1/8th cherokee on yo mama side, or the breakdown of what KIND of Black you are…sometimes there is a subtle “I’m more than JUST a Black american” message when it’s broken down for no apparent reason i.e. I’m from this island or that island, my father is cuban, etc…WE BLACK! The PO-LEESE(yeah I spelled it like that) don’t care about how mixed or multi whatever you are when they encounter your Black a$$, so don’t ever make the mistake of thinking you can actually neutralize your Blackness. Be UNAPOLOGETICALLY Black and you will always have the love and respect of most Black people.

      • Brother Mouzone

        And that doesn’t mean you have to be anti- anybody else.

      • GenevaGirl

        “1/8th Cherokee…” Thank you! I hate when people give their entire genetic makeup as if to discount their blackness, to try to make themselves more palatable to white people. Unless you go to your non-black family’s family reunion, it doesn’t count! You’re not one of them, despite what your results on 23 and Me may say.

        I am very light and people always ask what else am I. Black folks, white folks, Latinos, you name it, they’re always in disbelief. I respond, “I’m BLACK.” Clearly, I have other ethnicities in my bloodline, but they are too far back to count and I don’t care.

        Then they follow up with, “You could pass.” Uh, no, I can’t. Why would I ever want to be anything than what I am?

      • thank you, it makes you wonder!

  • Sigma_Since 93

    It’s sad that you have to write pieces in this vein every 8 months or so. I guess it’s a negative result of the success and growth of VSB and you as a writer. As long as the haters don’t come for the family, keep doing you homie!

  • Galaxy_Scribe

    I’m mixed and race is just something I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about. Does my lack of agenda “weaken” Black people?

    • Vanity in Peril

      Nnnnyope, we’ll hold down the fort for you and we’ll be here when u get called a ninja by ur ally white friends. Shotsfired, not really, all love.

      But nah, they will eventually call you a knighuh

      • Question

        …and trust that to the non-Black side of your family, you are their “Black cousin” , not the “mixed cousin”, the “bi-racial cousin”, the “Black and _____ [insert whatever] cousin”, the “cousin that doesn’t think much about race”.

        You’se the black cousin…

      • JamesInstagram

        Upvoting for fine-ass Oscar Isaac in “Ex-Machina” Even though he was an awful jerk in that movie, he could get it anytime, anyplace.

        • Vanity in Peril

          I am currently in the middle of an extremely one sided conversation with Mr. Awaken my Force on instagram. He is perfection.

    • Brooklyn_Bruin

      Yes. Thanks for playing

      • Jennifer

        lol

      • mr. steal your costco samples

        upvote so hard

  • Melvin D. Clayton

    This was so damn refreshing.

  • Jocelyn

    I don’t LOVE every post I read here. Sometimes I get a few sentences in and shrug because what I’m reading doesn’t resonate with me. So I stop reading and find something else to do. Other times I am so in love with what I see on VSB that I share it with friends (on Facebook and in real life). Anyone who interprets a post that they read on VSB as agenda pushing should try a few
    things. First, click into a few other posts to understand the diversity
    of thought represented. Second, consider a reading course that will help
    with comprehension. If the first two actions do not help, it is time for option three – an enema.

    • Londa

      Gimme some…

      • Jocelyn

        I will also give you five on the black hand side.

        • Londa

          Right back atcha!

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