Seeking a deeper understanding of Black Thought

-You can’t lead where you won’t go and you can’t teach what you don’t know.

If you have read this site for any extended period of time, then you know that a vast majority of our posts site have nothing to do with Black people. With topics ranging from activist nerds to the environment, there is more than enough room for everyone to gleam from and add to this site, (regardless of their race/backgrounds) but something is still off.

Which is why I get confused when my non-Black people tell me they feel uncomfortable posting comments. So this got me thinking about what you the reader think of when you read our subtitle, “Black Thought at the Highest Level.” Do you expect opinions from primarily Black people on a wide range of issues or do you expect to encounter “Black-specific” articles or both? By Black-specific issues, I mean stories that involve either Black individuals or an analysis of how a certain issue affects the larger Black community.

Now if you are Black, I am interested in your answer because while there is no one Black way of thinking, I am interested in whether or not you think that “Black thought” is generally restricted to Black-specific issues or is it broader than that. And while this may seem like a pointless request, you should acknowledge that part of what made previous sacrifices for freedom and equality so effective was due to the fact that most Blacks, regardless of their socioeconomic factors, all lived in the same area. Therefore, it was very easy to appreciate shared interests and the need for everyone to sacrifice to make the world better for themselves and their children.

So now when you fast forward to today, you have Black folks engaged in what I call, Black-Flight. Similar to white-flight, Black-flight happens when Black folk move out of the city and into the suburbs. And like white-flight, some Black folks are in search for housing farther away from the suburbs because their previous majority-white suburb is now majority-Black. So this means we don’t go to the same churches like we used to, shop at the same grocery stores, and our children don’t go to the same school. This is not to say that the aforementioned are necessary for a healthy community, but it provided a strong foundation for many of the triumphs Black folks have made in this country. And that is why forums like these are so important so that we can maintain a tangible idea of what the community actually feels like.

However, if the Black community has wildly different ideas of what is considered Black thought, then how can we ever get on the same page? Just think of all the Black people who have ever typed into a search engine; Black thought or Black consciousness. What were people looking for? What were you looking for? I could probably guess right that you are one of those people and if so, then hopefully by now, you can appreciate the gravity my question entails.

Now if you are non-Black, I am interested in your answer because I wonder if your thinking is similar to the claim made by critics of Bill Cosby; such that Black issues should be dealt with in-house. So as a result, are non-Black people supposed to be barred from joining those types of discussions? I don’t think so. Therefore, if someone non-Black wants to post a comment on anything, I don’t ever want to see a disclaimer saying something to the effect of, “I’m not Black, but I would like permission to participate.” By doing that, you are undermining your own opinions and what is odd to me is that one-on-one conversations between Blacks and non-Blacks can be very fulfilling, so why is it that when we get in the public (via blogging and posting comments) folks act weird? We have to stop walking on egg shells around each other regardless of our fears/insecurities about race because as my pastor stated a couple weeks ago, “sometimes you just have to go afraid.”

Nevertheless, I don’t think Black thought can be restricted to just Black issues because we are limiting our own potential. Just look at our history. George Washington Carver is a famous Black scientist that pioneered a whole slew of products from peanuts. Now many of us would consider George Washington Carver’s success and ideas a part of Black thought right? So why is it that the Blacks you don’t see at the Black Student Union meetings because they are in the lab, are for the most part, not considered down with the cause? We don’t need everyone doing the same thing but this thinking still manifests itself in our community. However, if we were to truly take an inventory and appreciation of the diversity of achievements, ideas, and struggles in our own community, there would then be a truer realization of Black thought. And this beautiful Black diversity will allow us to more adequately navigate and gleam from non-Blacks in a way that not only empowers us, but those we come in contact with.

Stay up fam,

Brandon Q.

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3 responses to “Seeking a deeper understanding of Black Thought”

  1. Freddo says :

    A very interesting question indeed, Brandon. I saw your blog for the first time a few days ago, and when I saw “black thought” in the subtitle, the first thing that crossed my mind was my man from The Roots. I didnt put much more consideration into what it meant or what it implied your site was about, but the underlying tone, to me, was that it pertained to “black” topics. when I read some of the postings, I realized quickly that it was more than that. But one thing you have to realize is that there is a voltage on anything concerning race, and if somebody sees the words “black thought” then your concern is likely to be the first reflexive impression through most people’s mind. That is because we dont take the time to ask the question you did: what is black thought? It can mean almost anything you want. Discussion of “black” topics is the superficial meaning. Perhaps you mean “intellectual thoughts of black people”. But there are more meanings, which are what make your question interesting: Black way(s) of thinking. Black frame of mind and reference. The Black Paradigm. The Black view of the world. But that raises another question: what is the identity that makes it “black”? what about those of us, like myself, who are multiracial and identify with all of the above, and then some? You speak about the need for strength in the black community as a whole. well what about people who aren’t a part of that community? What it comes down to is what is a person’s sense of identity? And man, to tell you the truth, the vast majority of people in this world dont give two shits about any other community than their own. And for those who do, may not feel welcome. I’ll tell you another truth: Many non-black people are intimidated by black people. I see it every single day. (And then some of those who aren’t, feel welcome to ask me 20 curious questions about the why’s of black people.) So, if there is to be any progress, one of the black thoughts should be how to show the world that “black” is more than what the world thinks it is. I think your blog is on that track. keep it up.

  2. Brandon Q. says :

    Thanks for the comment Freddo.

    For starters, one of the goals for this blog is to show that Black is more than what the world thinks it is, and I am glad you understand that.

    I read how you thought of the Roots and that is interesting because the Roots are one of my favorite bands not because they are Black but because they are world renown for good music. And like the Roots, I want the Superspade to be recognized for the quality of our posts/arguments and not the color of our skin. This is why I constantly talk about the need for transcendence.

    And like you said, many non-Black people are intimidated by Black folks and that is one of the things I want to help end through this site. But I think breaking down this wall does not require me to put my Blackness in the closet so that my ideas are more palpable. And I think the problem is that I think many non-Blacks are comfortable with Blacks on a one-on-one type of situation but the intimidation rises with the number of Blacks present. And unfortunately, I think when some people think they are intimidated by a group, they then think that nothing would be gained from the one-on-one.

    As for strength in the Black community and including those who are non-Black, I am all for it. That is the primary reason why I wrote this post is to illustrate that we welcome the insights of non-Blacks for helping strengthen the community. But what is often assumed is the notion that non-Blacks feel left out of the conversation, whereas I think the deeper issue is that Blacks want to be included in conversations (with all people) that are not limited to race, as you noted in your 20 questions.

    Now about being multi-racial, that is such a complex issue that I won’t attempt to simplify it. But I think you present an interesting perspective because it begs the question that if you are part-Black, is your “membership” based on your appearance or on how you act? I suspect it is a combination of both and other factors I am not considerating right now. However, I welcome your perspective and if you are interested in penning a piece on that issue, please let me know.

    Lastly, I think what should be included in any discussion of Black thought is the notion of transcendence because until we can deal with individuals for who they are as opposed to how they look, we have a long ways to go. And while I don’t think anyone could adequately define Black thought, I at least wanted to ask the right questions and challenge long-held assumptions.

    Thanks again for your comments man, they were very insightful.

    Brandon

  3. Dumi says :

    In my book, being a young Black man, it’s nearly impossible to separate me from my blackness. When I think, it’s Black, when I talk, it’s Black. And when I say Black, I don’t mean in a monolithic- Black is this, White is this manner. It simply reflects the social position that I occupy due to my national and global status, thus the lens I see the world through is informed by my position.

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