Black Market

Truth - Diversity is nothing more than the recognition of difference. It's a word that has lot the entirety of its meaning which wasn't much to begin with. What people often don't realize is that difference works both ways. It's problematic and subversive to label some people as diverse, different, or other but to leave the caller as an unnamed norm. People are not just some variations on a standard version, they are inherently valid in and of themselves. What happens when diversity goes from appreciation to appropriation and somewhere even darker? What if slavery never went away but rather evolved and took on new forms? What if we're still buying, trading, and selling people on the black market.
 

"Racism oppresses its victims, but also binds the oppressors, who sear their consciences with more and more lies until they become prisoners of those lies. They cannot face the truth of human equality because it reveals the horror of the injustices they commit."
Alveda King
 
Slavery - it's a word that describes one of the most abysmal acts humanity has ever (and continues) to commit against itself. It the commodification of other human beings. There have been notable eras of enslavement but the most infamous being that involving the transatlantic slave trade. It's the part the history books that gets skimmed over, misinterpreted, or completely skipped because it makes people uncomfortable. It is absolutely imperative though because it explains how blackness, black people, and all those perceived to carry the curse of having colored skin have came to be misunderstood in the context of the United States. You see slavery not only was the entire foundation of this country's economy but also the basis of it's subsequent disenfranchisement and dehumanization of people of color, namely black people.

Whipped, beaten, bloodied, battered, raped, murdered, and all the wanton human rights violations in between was how black people came to be here. I always say that racism is the belief that people of color are inhuman. Why? It is the only way I can even begin to comprehend how people were able to treat other peoples as nothing better than animals. Still today, people treat their domestic pets better than they treat people of color. Animal, savage, uncivilized, is how black people were described but not much has changed - thug, brute, monster have joined the ranks to describe black people as something less than human. Black people never were the problem. Racism has nothing to do with the people it oppresses, but all to do with the oppressor. Whiteness, white supremacy, and white people are benefactors of privilege, power, and social prosperity in the wake of the mental, emotional, physical, economic, and social fettering of black people. The black market never closed.
 
Take some time to do some research and get some background on the ways in which black people have always been barred from accessing the same basic rights and opportunities as their white counterparts. The creation of ghettos & the suburbs, redlining, standardized testing, even what is socially acceptable as professional are goes back to race relations. Whiteness is the standard by which all else is measured and blackness and all those that deemed to exhibit it fail by way of existence. But what is whiteness? Some say is the absence of culture or being oblivious to it, but I disagree. I say whiteness is an immersion in cultures that have been pilfered, puffed out, reduced, bleached, and renamed as its own. Cultural appropriation is when members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant and call it their own. In other words, it's like one student giving an answer and getting an F, another student copying off of them, presenting the same answer, and getting an A.

Cultural appropriation is different from appreciation, exchange, and assimilation for so many reasons. The former has an inherent power dynamic and a disregard for the violence, both physical and cultural, that often comes with is being taken. Background and context are key. Appreciation is paying respect and acknowledging the culture, peoples, and history surrounding an element. It's giving credit where credit is due (and it's always due) instead of claiming something already discovered as your own (#Columbussing). Exchange goes both ways where the benefit is mutual. Assimilation is the adoption of dominant culture not for but for survival by minorities groups - there is no choice there. The black market these days shows up in cultural appropriation, commodification, and continued extermination of blackness.

Everybody wants to be black until they realize being black in America is a death sentence. Blackness is cool, it's vivacious, and it's powerful. Blackness is also deadly - not implicitly, but displaying it is cause for suspicion, persecution, and execution if need be. Blackness everywhere and nowhere. Bits and pieces of black culture are taken until there is nothing left. What do I do have left? Take for example tanning and lip fillers. White people have long oppressed people of color because of their skin color, but some attempt to mimic the hated features by tanning or injecting puffers for bigger lips. Why is what I look like wrong, but when you try to copy it, it's brand new? Music - don't even get me started on music. Jazz, hip-hop, r&b, and rap have long been expressions of b lack cultures. The biggest consumers of black music - white people. Then there are artists who owe their entire careers to black artists who came before them, and yet remain silent as black communities are being destroyed, burned, or incarcerated. Don't even get me started on professional sports, particularly the NBA and the double standards that exist for athletes of color. If signing, owning, and trading people isn't modern day slavery, I don't know what is.
 
The internet is a hub for idea exchange but also robbery. Social media trends in particular often originate from black content producers and are pilfered by white people who whitewash, clean, and claim them as their own. Vine is  great example. The majority most popular viners are black and yet the obnoxious viners getting commercial deals, sponsorships, and acting roles are their white counterparts. Clothes, style, dress, language/slang, swagger all with ties back to black cultures are taken and transformed. Black people are demeaned for their use of slang or particular ways of dress but when white people do it becomes popular and socially acceptable. Twerking (dances), weave (hair extensions), and even food - it doesn't stop. Black people aren't allowed to be without being critiqued, ridiculed, or berated. White people take blackness and made it profitable.
 
If you want to be me so bad why do you hate me or persecute all those who look like me? It doesn't make any sense. Jealousy? What do you have to be jealous - you are the norm, the name brand, the generic; everyone else is considered just a cheap knock-off. If you love blackness so much why don't you defend it? Whiteness is to be given the benefit of the doubt, even in instances when it's not due. Blackness is to be assumed guilty without due process and to be sentenced to death by the whims of white person's sense of security. All these videos of black people, young and old, rich and poor, all across the country, being treated viciously, having the worst assumed of them, and having commenters, spectators, and authorities call for death - are we back in the times of slavery? I argue, we never left. Why are people trying to justify people being diminished to something less than some semblance of human? What more do you want from me? What  do I have left? All I am is my life, you already purchased my soul when I was made to want the American dream. The American was not meant for me though. What is this life without it? Find your humanity, and then recognize mine. Give some room for conversation. Get some background knowledge. Learn other perspectives. Be kind. Break the black market - who I am is not for sale. X
 

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