I’m the sort of person that love to have discussions about various topics with friends and family. So, when my book club met yesterday the topic of how you identify yourself was brought up. Usually when someone is asked that question it is in relation to sexual identification, but not so when the topic was discussed yesterday. The youngest woman at the table was speaking in regard to race and sex. She saw herself as a woman first and Black second.
I found her perspective to be fascinating to say the least. I told myself it must be a generational thing because I have always identified myself as a Black Woman, specifically an African American Woman.
I came home from the discussion with the subject matter lingering in the back of my mind as I greeted my husband and grandkids. I thought about menial things such as whether to cook dinner or get take-out all while the question of identify floated within the walls of my consciousness.
I asked myself why Black first and not female? And this is why. The hue of my skin bear witness to the fact that I am Black. I share physical and social qualities which are distinct within the Black experience in America. There is a shared experience in my Blackness that I have not shared with females of other races in America.
For me Black is how I see myself because of the strength and beauty that it means to me. The danger that I find in identifying as female first is a forgetting of the contributions of the Black woman and a melding into the collective female culture. I remember a period in our recent history where people were walking around saying, “I don’t see color. I see people.” That was always offensive to me. Every time I heard that phrase, I thought that people’s culture, tradition, history, and religion were being diminished even though it was not the speakers intend.
I don’t know if it is generation gap or something more profound happening when young Black female see themselves as women first and Black second. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not, all I know it is interesting topic and a question you might want to ask yourself.