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Am I Black enough?

Black History month is meant to celebrate Black joy, resistance, innovation and... unity. So why doesn't it always feel that way?

Hands of various skin colours and tones together layered on top each other in a circle beside the words International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

When we gatekeep who is “Black enough” to be Black, we just perpetuate the same white supremacy ideology that has served to oppress us for hundreds of years.

Am I Black enough?


You don't look Black

You don't sound Black

You don't act Black


Says the white person.


You don't look Black

You don't sound Black

You don't act Black


Says the Black person.


The Black experience is not a singular experience. It is not a historical one. It is not a stereotypical one. It has evolved, transformed, expanded. If you have ancestry from the African diaspora then being Black, is being you. This is true whether you grew up deeply rooted in your culture, or if you are currently on your journey to reconnect with what colonization stole from you. This is true whether you were born in Africa or born here in Canada. Whether you grew up being able to identify racism or if it is something you are learning about now. There are many different places people can be in their understanding of, and connection to, their ancestry, their heritage, and their culture. This is because there are a multitude of reasons why, historical and current, they may have been disconnected from it. When we gatekeep who is “Black enough” to be Black, we just perpetuate the same white supremacy ideology that has served to oppress us for hundreds of years.


And therein lies the rub for many Black people come Black History Month. Black history month is a month when otherwise invisible colleagues become hypervisible. When students, who have been largely ignored, now become the hyperfocus in their classrooms. A month when some Black people feel they are on display despite their desire to not stand out. A month of being asked for, sometimes demanded of, their opinions and emotional labour as if they represent all Black people. A month when many Black people are quietly learning their own Black history alongside their non-Black counterparts. It’s not like we learned our history in books at school.


So this Black History month, consider there are very dark Black people just starting to understand systemic racism. Consider there are white-passing Black people who are forced to justify their identification. Consider the biracial or multiracial Black people who are told they’re not full anything so don’t fit in anywhere. Consider that Black History month can be a time of joy and sorrow, a time of pride and shame, a time of clarity and confusion, a time of connection and isolation.


And for anyone out there who identifies as Black, you are Black enough this month and every other month.



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