Recently, the reports were all over Facebook that Kofi Siriboe (Hottie from Queen Sugar on the OWN network) had some controversial exchanges taking place on his Twitter feed that started with a celebratory tweet about his (obviously) Black mother.
This wouldn’t be the first time on social media that someone felt they needed to contribute their opinion when the topic of discussion had nothing to do with them. To just sum up what the issue was, a white woman (not from the US) decided that Kofi’s statement should apply to all good mothers. Essentially, telling him that he shouldn’t single out black women as more supportive mothers than any other group.
While on one hand I can understand that perspective and there is a whole conversation we could have about it, but it doesn’t mean it is a correct point of view given the long history of inequality of representation in the US. Her statement would only become valid if each and every marginalized group of people were represented and celebrated fairly in the public sector. If you have been paying attention, you’d know that to be false.
Kofi waited to respond and let his followers have their say before clapping back.
He is not wrong for his initial statement and he is not wrong for intentionally drawing attention to the beauty of supportive black women in his life.
I wanted to address this topic about why black people seem to constantly go out of their way to celebrate their blackness. It has been perceived as racist, unjust, exclusive etc. In reality many black people simply seek to shine a light on our people, who often go completely unnoticed and underrepresented.
Put yourself in the shoes of a black person (if you are not black). For decades, many black children grew up watching mostly white children on TV. They had to search long and hard for hair products suitable for their hair texture in the stores, as they were not readily available to them. Many were one of just a few black children at their school, or were among only black children at their schools. Creating a feeling of otherness. Items as simple as band-aids were only offered in white skin tones, and drug store make-up brands typically offer only 3-4 shades of black skin tones, with 8-10 shades of white skin tones available.
I’ve provided a small sample of some of the realities that black children, men and women face and the lack of representation of their melanin rich skin tones in their day to day lives. It is painful to not see yourself represented, and often results in a negative perception of self and a belief that because the representation is not there that it means black people are not as important.
So when we celebrate our beauty and our culture, we shouldn’t have to apologize to a society who doesn’t represent us equally. Just because it feels exclusive, doesn’t mean you have to be offended. Everything about this society feels exclusive to me when it comes to celebrating whiteness, which is the norm. It is for this same reason that a BET, Black History Month and a Black Lives Matter Movement is necessary. It shouldn’t have to be, but it is. The problem is that we are used to a once-in-awhile black celebration, while whiteness is applauded regularly. It just simply is not acceptable. Blackness should be celebrated everyday!