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Words matter and you can choose to use them thoughtfully.
When a Black emcee says the N-word, it's about identity and survival.
The Black Panther phenomenon shows that people are crying out for chances to see themselves and their communities portrayed with dignity and diversity.
No one knows what my family is, or how exactly we all relate to each other at first sight, but it's always been a question of where we come from, and implicitly, a question of what we're doing here at all. I have never met someone who shares my ethnic mix (outside of my brother) in my entire life. My grandma divorced her husband. My mom ran off and married a black dude. They've never said it to my face, but I've figured that a lot of the amazing and independent choices my parents made as women didn't totally click with a lot of what India was telling women to be back in the day.
For 2016, I am urging my black family to take back our culture. We live in a time when our black men and women believe that they have to lower their standards to be successful. We exist in a virtual world where image comes with a cost that many are willing to pay, by any means necessary.
Through the usual media gaze, even Lupita's traumatic true story of the self-hate she had for her dark skin has been rebranded as a Third World dark skin black girl narrative, overcoming the adversity of the mythical beauty norms of whiteness. While many black women share Lupita's story of struggling with colourism, it is important that we do not get trapped into universalizing it. Primarily, we should acknowledge and appreciate that there are actually many black women who have been raised to embrace their dark skin without the social anxieties of being affirmed by mainstream gendered standards.
There is no single "black" culture. Blogger Anne Theriault crossed the line when she equated Miley's vulgar gyrations with "black" culture. Culture is reflected through language, dress, music, art, cuisine. Vulgarity is not culture.
It's hard to understand a rationale for the lingering reluctance of mainstream society to truly embrace the work of people of colour as an essential element of its own culture -- not an exception, not as a special category forever locked in a time vault of supposed historical purity.