Does the Black community have a widening divide?

In recent years demonstrators have come together to protest tragedies such as the killing of Stephon Clark, but there is still more that should be done to help conflicts within the black community. (Photo by Ashley Hayes-Stone)

While the black community is becoming a more united front on the outside in recent years as a result of tragedies like the Stephon Clark shooting, I believe that the community can often forget about the allies they’ve always had standing right next to them facing similar issues.

Everyone praises white allies who speak out in times of injustice, but more often than not they have nothing to lose. It seems like when the media and society praises white allies, members of the black community that face similar issues and are trying to take on a similar role can be replaced.

In my experience, I’ve noticed that when a member of the black community who is of a lighter hue faces similar struggles and issues and they want to speak out on the topic, their stance is disregard because, while they face similar problems, the issues they face are not as “serious” or “don’t happen everyday.”

I’m not talking about black-on-black crime, I’m talking about the black community choosing to continuously divide itself.

While groups like Black Lives Matter are forces that bring the community closer together, there are still issues that the black community needs to eliminate within itself.

It seems like the lighter-skinned and LGBTQ members of the black community have historically been left out of the movements seen within the black community. There seems to be internal issues that the black community still needs to deal with before the community can fully come together.

I have noticed that members of the community will often disregard the issues that their lighter-skinned counterparts face because the problems they face are not broadcasted across media platforms.

I am not trying to eliminate the serious issues of police brutality and racial profiling that darker skinned members of the black community more often face, I am just shining a light onto similar issues that those who are on the lighter end of the black spectrum and have visible black features face.

I am aware that being lighter-skinned in the black community gives me an advantage in certain situations where those with darker skin may face problems, but I don’t think that skin color is the only factor that leads to racial discrimination.

While skin color is the first, and most obvious, way that people face discrimination there are other physical features such as hair texture and facial features that often tie the black community together.  

In my case, I would think that it’s pretty clear that I am mixed. I have what would be considered black features, my nose and hair texture, which are hard for people to miss or for me to hide.

Ever since I was younger, I’ve felt a disconnect from the black community, like I didn’t fit or I wasn’t fully accepted and it didn’t matter if my physical features resemble those in the black community, I always found that whenever I brought up an issue that I was dealing with, in regards to race it was thrown out — like I was being to sensitive.

Even as I’ve grown up and become more secure in myself and accepted what I can’t change, whether it be hair texture of the shape of my nose, I still feel a sense of displacement in the black community.

I believe that the displacement that I feel stems from the issue of colorism that the black community has historically faced and still faces today.

Malcolm X spoke on the issue of colorism and he was focused on getting to the root of where the issue stems from.

In a speech from 1962, Malcolm X questioned the crowd, asking “Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet? Who taught you to hate your own kind? Who taught you to hate the race that you belong to so much so that you don’t want to be around each other?”

Even in the 1960s people were aware of the divide that plagues the black community. While people are now trying to bring the whole community together, there are still issues with people being complacent and members of the community who are homophobic.

Until the black community can learn to fully except each part of the community and not inflict the own prejudices they wish to erase onto their own, the group will be unable to dismantle the injustices that they face.

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About the Author

Makenna Roy
Makenna Roy is in her first semester writing for the Current and in her final semester at American River College. Roy is transferring to Sacramento State in the fall of 2019, at CSUS she plans on working towards obtaining her bachelor’s degree in both journalism and political science.

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