In a recent Doctor Phil episode, a black girl went on the show and declared that she was actually a girl woman. According to her, she has the body of a white girl and “acts and thinks like a girl person.” She believes herself to be better than African Americans. She states that white people are smarter and more mature than black people. She also says that “black people think in a criminal way.” She goes to demean black people and uplift white people throughout the episode.
— Dr. Phil (@DrPhil) October 24, 2018
The beliefs of this girl reveal a very serious issue: the way that African Americans are taught to hate themselves.
When slaves were taught that their blackness is wrong when they were brought to America. White slavers forced western culture onto them. Black slaves were given white names and forbidden to speak their native language. They were forced to practice Christianity and forget about their own religions. As white slave owners erased the identities of black slaves, they replaced them with their own beliefs and customs. By doing this, white slave owners taught black slaves to hate their culture and, as a result, hate themselves.
This practice continued, even after slavery was abolished. For centuries, black people have been taught to despise their own blackness. Even though America is seemly more progressive now, African Americans are still taught to hate ourselves. In society, our music is seen as ghetto and violent. Our dialect is considered to be a sign of illiterateness. Everything that we do is constantly under attack and nitpicked.
In a 2011 study carried out by the Opportunity Agenda, found that media representation can have lasting negative effects on black men. Through media representation, black men are portrayed as either sidekicks or criminals. Through these depictions, black men are taught to lower their goals for their lives, since, according to these representations they will never amount to much.
This study applies to all black people. We are told our blackness is wrong. African Americans are constantly reminded of how nappy our hair is or how wide our noses are. We are constantly mocked because of the color of our skin. Throughout our lives, African Americans are taught that blackness is wrong and whiteness is right.
Since blackness is always met with such resistance, many African Americans often do not claim theirs. Instead, they simply attempt to assimilate into western culture and forget about their heritage. An example of this is Raven Symone who stated in an interview with Oprah “I am not African American, I am American.” Symone even goes onto say, she does not know where in Africa her family is from but, she knows they’re from Louisiana. Symone attempted to distance herself from her own blackness because that’s what she was taught, like many other black Americans.
Raven Symone should not feel the need to disown her blackness. The girl on the Doctor Phil episode should not have been taught to hate her own blackness so much. African Americans should be able to enjoy their heritage, without being attacked for it. We deserve to be able to love our blackness freely.