Am I a self-hating Negro?

Just came back from hanging with my girl. We met in high school (it seems relevant to me that it was a specialized high school for smarties—my friend would say that thinking this fact relevant is a symptom of my self-loathing) more years ago than I care to admit to. I call her “Mrs. Blackity” and she describes me as “almost black”. Tonight she accused me of being a self-hating Negro.

The major points of disagreement during our lively discussion over dinner at Los Dos Pollitos. [ol][li]I’m not really black. I am the great-granddaughter of slaves. I am also the granddaughter of a person born in European. My mixed heritage shields me from the full, real black experience.[]I think that most criminal acts are not mitigated by race. Girlfriend says that “the full black experience” is what turns many of our young black men into criminals. I say—so what? The larger social issues have jack to do with whether I tolerate, condone or even sympathize with criminals. []I confess to not wanting to live in an all black neighborhood. Even a good one. I don’t want to live in an all “anything” neighborhood. And I also think all black enclaves marginalize blacks. It annoys me when people talk “street” inappropriately. Like at a job interview. This means that I am ashamed of my blackness, according to Girlfriend. [/ol][/li]Girlfriend’s main point was that I cut other groups a lot more slack than I do blacks. This is true. But it’s not because I hate blacks. It’s because in order to be thought of as half as good, blacks have to work twice has hard and every single stupid and/or criminal act reflects on me personally in a way that just doesn’t happen to white people when people in their group act the same. The very fact that I’d come to this mostly white messageboard to ask this question would be damning proof in Girlfriend’s eyes.

Does this constitute self-hatred?

Well, I’m one of the “melanin challenged” folks but can understand at least a bit of what you feel. Being annoyed when someone associated with yourself does something wildly inappropriate isn’t limited to blacks. I live in Saudi and occasionally bump into the definitive “ugly American” and it embarasses the hell out of me. I also run around in Thailand a good bit and have the same thing happen regularly. Ignorant women from the US marching into Buddhist temples wearing hot pants and a bikini top, things like that.

FWIW, I don’t think being annoyed/embarassed makes you a self-hating black, just one that would like your race to be an example to follow.

I’m curious though, what would you consider “the full black experience?” I know that is probably a stupid question but I haven’t lived in the states for the past 20 years and I suspect things have changed a bit.


Well, the background of this message board is mostly white (on my screen, anyway). But the letters themselves are pretty black.Sometimes they’re VERY black.

The fact that you’re willing to look to examine this question at all (much less here) is, IMO, a powerful indication that you self-identify primarily with a group larger than African-Americans. If that means that you’re a self-hating Negro, I guess you are. I think identifying with a larger group speaks with great hope towards a day of lessened racial conflicts, generally.

Or how about being from Texas and having many people classify you as an uneducated, racist, beer swiling cowboy? But that is really very minor compared to the Black things Biggirl brought up.

In talking to my Black friends, I see exactly what many are talking about. The black “problems” seem to get purpetuated by white folk and black folk both. Not everyone, mind you. Not even a majority. But when these things do come up, on either side, it seems to always be very high profile. Why is that? And, by the way, many arguments (from both sides) seem so totally illogical.

But then I have no clue, you see…

Yes, you are absolutely a self-hating almost-black. You might even be almost Big, and almost a Girl.

In all seriousness, did you expect any real debate here? I can’t imagine anyone here coming in on your idiot friend’s side.

So, where do you stand on this Colin Powell/Johnny Mathis thing?

As a black woman, I empathize with your feelings. There has many a time when I’ve been embarrassed by the actions of other black people, as if their foolishness reflects poorly on me. But you know what? My sanity is too precious to let it be affected by other people who in actuality are no more associated with me than any other person.

Yes, when one black person screws up, a lot of ignoramosus will look at you as if you too screwed up. I’m not denying that that happens, because I’ve found myself in several situations having to explain or defend the actions of complete strangers just because we both have dark skin and kinky hair. But what happens a lot of the time is that my own perceptions lead me to believe that people are judging me based on the actions of others. When in actuality, it is myself doing it; no one else. If I want people to treat me as an individual and not as a faceless Black (with a capital “b”), then it starts with me. I have to stop feeling ashamed whenever another black person stumbles, because what can come out of that shame except insecurity and unhappiness? That kind of shame will only push me away from other black people, out of the irrational fear that they will do something that will reflect poorly on me. And also, who wants to always fret about what white people are thinking? That’s not a fun kind of existence.

So, even though I don’t really know both sides of the story, your friend is not completely coming out of left field with her diagnosis, IMO. But rest assured you’re not the only one tackling this problem. Case in point, moi. I can barely watch the news without mentally cringing whenever they report on a black criminal. But I see this as a problem that I’m trying to overcome.

Johnny Mathis and Harry Belafonte are in cahoots now? :slight_smile:

I can’t see your skin color but I would imagine if you look black enough to most people you’ve probably experienced the “black” experience. Personally, I would think that since people are varied based on a variety of factors that the black experience can also vary. Did you take the paper bag test to determine whether you were black enough?

I lived in Texas and I don’t pronounce nuclear like the president of the United States does nor do I have the twang that so many other natives have. Nobody in their right mind would ever say to me that I was ashamed of coming from Texas.

People often expect more of those they associate or identify with. Based on what you’ve said I don’t think you sound self loathing. You don’t fit their idea of what it means to be black. Heck, I don’t even know what it means to be white.


Your friend is being somewhat silly using the critera listed as a metric for self accepting vs self hating blackness. Having said this, however, I can see how claiming to own enough of the black experience that you can qualify as a “self hating black person” and being 1/4 or less black might strike some black people as a somewhat questionable posture.

Nothing in the OP gave me the impression that Biggirl is 1/4 or less black.

But at any rate, pedigree (for a lack of a better term) is irrelevant in a practical sense when it comes to race in the US. If you look black (or perhaps better stated, not white) then that is how you are socially categorized. Denzel Washington could very well be biracial (having the papers to prove it and everything), but he looks “100% black” in the eyes of society and so therefore that is what he is considered and treated as. Self-identification is largely a product of how the world identifies you. Which means that if Biggirl sees herself as a black person, it is probably not just due to her ancestry. It is also because that is how she perceives the world to see her. Does that make any sense?

Just as a matter on interet, how many of us in this disscussion are Black? I’m a minority member but of another sort and I don’t know a darn thing about being Black.

I think MGibson struck on the core of our discussion (it wasn’t an arguement-- I did see her point, I just disagreed with it) in that what she saw as important signifiers of “blackness” did not match mine.

As to how black I am being of mixed race: I am black and Puerto Rican. I am me and I don’t let other people’s definition of how much “black blood” is needed enter into my self-identification. Especially since, unless you are straight off the boat from Africa, any American black will find that they have other ethnicities lurking in their families.

Is expecting more from black people in general a sign of cultural self-loathing? Because the deck really is stacked against blacks in this country, no matter what the “things are different now, blacks should stop complaining” segment of this country says. But when it comes down to it, when I see my no-job-having, working on her 5th kid, coke snorting cousin I do not see a failure of the system (although in truth “the system” made it particularly easy for her to end up this way). I do see a walking stereotype that angers me.

Is that self-hatred?

This may be a hijack, and I’m sorry if it is, or if it sounds demeaning or anything like that.

What do you owe to other Black people? Do you find that you have to prove your Blackness? I’m white, Catholic, Irish and German. I feel no obligation to any of these parties. I don’t feel any need to validate myself to other Irish descendants. What is it about the black experience that makes it an issue whether you are “black enough?”

I’ve always found the idea of “self-loathing ______ (insert category here)” to be kind of a crock. It’s the nature of humanity to have different perspectives, attitudes, or beliefs, regardless of just about anything. The idea that someone could hate themselves because they are black, or jewish, or gay, or whatever, seems impossible. Is my perception here wrong?

Biggirl’s friend’s attempt to minimize Biggirl’s blackness speaks more to her attitude toward blackness than anything Biggirl has presented here. IMO.

No, this is not self-hatred- it is righteous anger. Not “holier-than-thou” righteous, but simply, well, “right” righteous.

Oh boy, you’re not all black. And if you’re not a Democrat, than watch out - you’re not really black at all. :rolleyes:

Seriously, though, your friend is being foolish. Be sure to tell her that, being both black and Puerto Rican, you have to experience the compounded prejudices against both of those groups, as well as alienation from both of those communities - because, yes, that’s right, everyone knows the exact percentage of your ethnic makeup on sight.

To paraphrase an excellent film, the title of which escapes me at the moment - “We all just gotta keep f—in’ until we’re all the same color.” Then everyone will have a great big laugh and realize how stupid we were.

Tell Miss Blackity that Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, Bob Marley, and W.E.B. DuBois had white parents or grandparents – does that change her opinion of them? Should it?

I would ask your friend why you have to be a “true” anything?

Because after all, above all, you’re Biggirl. You’re yourself.

(Actually, I would say by not playing along with her stereotypes, you would be less self-hating-her attitude sounds almost defeatest.)

Or am I speaking out of my arse again?

I am reminded of a Johm Stossel segment on ABC’s 20/20 concerning the generalized difference of parenting styles between fathers and mothers with respect to children. A video clip was presented of a father on a set of monkey bars urging his child upward and forward while mother was underneath ready to catch the child should the child fail.

Both of you Biggirl are heavily invested in your identities as blacks. The failure/success of blacks in American society touches both of you deeply. That is because African-Americans are a highly visible minority with a very distinct American history.

But I see you Biggirl looking forward willing to take your full place in society as equal in all respects and hopeful that others of your shared identity are willing to break the shackles of victimhood that come as much from within as without.

Your friend on the other hand prefers to play the safe hand, displaying a sort of bunker mentality and defeatism ready for an excuse everytime a failure of a member of your ethnic group becomes evident.

There is validity in both views, because I don’t think Daddy would be urging the kid if Mommy weren’t ready to to catch. I just don’t think Mommy should tell Daddy that he shouldn’t encourage the child to challenge the bars.

And Daddy doesn’t hate his kid.

ok I find this a little interesting:

Girlfriend says that “the full black experience” is what turns many of our young black men into criminals.

I thought it was pretty well settled (especially amongst blacks) that poverty breeds crime. Does this mean poverty = “the full black experience”? Does this mean that blacks should strive to be poor if they want to know what being black is all about? Does this mean that blacks who are not living in poverty are not true blacks, or self-hating Negros? If so, that’s really horrible. I’m all for helping to alleviate poverty among african americans, but if they feel that it’s wrong to not be poor then I think we have a bigger problem than just poverty.

Anyway, the way i see it is simple. Just because you fit X, Y, and Z characteristics/ways of thought doesn’t mean you have to be a card-carrying member of the X, Y, and Z groups. Just associate with your friends; don’t feel like you need to fit in any more than that. People who get caught up in feeling they have to belong to “an idea” are clueless idiots, IMHO.

Aside from the David Duke people, i never hear white people talking about being white, and experiencing whiteness. They’d be called racist if they did. Why must black people be required to have analogous thought-processes?