Black Self Identity: How Much is Blackness Defined by Whiteness?

The class was tasked with creating a self-portrait collage; the assignment seemed straight forward enough. After sketching our faces, the art teacher directed us toward the pile of magazines she’d provided. I brought a few back to my table and noticed immediately this wasn’t going to be as easy as I’d thought.

I was raised in a predominantly white city…there may have been one other Black kid in my class that year. And it goes without saying, my teacher was white. In fact, tall, beautiful, blonde, and blue-eyed, she resembled the models printed on the glossy pages.
Redbook, Marie Claire, Elle, Home & Garden, Glamour…our teacher provided no Ebony or Essence…no publications that might feature a more diverse assortment of images. I’m sure this was an innocent oversight on her part, not an intentional microaggression. Providing a varied selection of pictures probably didn’t even cross her mind…an advantage of privilege is the allowance to avoid cluttering one’s mental space with such trivial notions as inclusivity. My classmates quickly began tearing peach faces and beige bodies from the books…nearly every page had people who looked like them.

Read the rest on Black Culture

Do you recall any specific childhood experiences that led to racial self awareness? Are there times when you are more aware of your Blackness than others?


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    Adopted and raised in France in white families, here’s a couple: Hip-hop and B-boys from NYC on TV around 82-83. They...
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