No One Is Black, and No One Is White—So Why Do We Call Them That?!

Maybe this is one of those indelicate subjects that needs to be tiptoed around, but … why the F do we call black people, “black people”??

They’re not fucking black … I mean it can’t just be me that thinks this right? that if society calls them that—and I get that they call themselves that as well, but … doesn’t that just make things worse?

What could be more polarizing than … I mean ok maybe you have to call people SOMETHING? maybe?

But I almost feel like this is some inside joke or practical joke played on darker-skinned people, by, let’s say, ‘European ancestry’ people.

“Whites” and “Blacks”? If we start the conversation about race with those being the starting categories, what do we really expect is gonna happen?!!

They’re not white and they’re not black for fuck’s sake, so how is this supposed to work?

I mean why aren’t we calling Asian people “Yellows”?

It’s like, hey let’s call them Yellows, and then watch ’em start calling themselves yellows, and then we can have all these different colors all irreconcilably divided and start from there!

But no, it’s “Asians,” which is somehow respectable I guess, cause “Orientals” is too divisive somehow, what?!

Okay, I get that “Orientals” has some seriously negative historical connotations, but it’s a lot less intrinsically divisive than “White” and “Black,” no?? But “White” and “Black” is where the conversation STARTS!

It’s like, they made O.J. blacker for his Time magazine cover, OH SHIT THEY DID THAT TO MAKE HIM LOOK WORSE CAUSE BLACK EQUALS BAD SO THAT’S WRONG THAT’S TOO BLACK

I mean it was fucked up that they photoshopped him to look blacker [note, this is by no means a defense of O.J., who is detestable in every way], but then again he’s categorized as a “black person” despite not really being “black,” so isn’t calling him “black” in the first place a fucked up thing to do??

You know what I mean? “You made him look blacker! That’s soooo fucked up because you know the color black has negative implications and you took advantage of that to psychologically manipulate people!!”

“But, it’s totally cool to call an entire segment of humanity ‘Black’ even though they’re NOT AT ALL BLACK!!

I mean, I get that the term “Colored people” has a horribly pejorative connotation, but why is that worse than “Black”??

Okay so I’m not really sure why this all bothers me so much, but it has real-world implications—like, when patients are being discussed I cringe when I hear the term “Black” patient … I can’t get myself to say it, or chart it. I just leave it out. “This is a 52 year old male.” Or, I’ll do the “African-American” cop-out, which is admittedly pretty lame, cause how the hell do I know what their ancestry is?

Like, you can say “Asian patient” and it’ll generally be correct ethnically … but “Black” or “African-American” could be anything, and realistically means nothing except that someone concluded the patient was “not obviously Caucasian, light-skinned Latino, or Asian.”

I mean I get that we can’t just call everyone “People” or “Humans” for various reasons, not the least of which is that humans are by nature evolved to perceive differences and you can’t change that, and/or that people innately perceive that there’s their “own” group and then there’s “other” groups.

But the truth is you cannot get MORE divisive than the terms “White” and “Black”—literally as far apart on any spectrum as two things can possibly be—and there simply can’t possibly ever be a way to fully reconcile them, especially when the groups involved aren’t actually “White” or “Black” in any actual way, AND one label has an obviously and verifiably positive psychological connotation, and the other an obviously and verifiably negative one.

In discussing this with others, at one point it was pointed out to me that “black and white are the official race selections you see when filling out forms though … probably because it just happens to possibly match the color of their skin.“

Which is exactly what I’m talking about—it’s so ingrained into society at the deepest levels now, that we almost think it makes sense to call people that … but come on! Nobody’s freaking skin color is black, nor is anyone’s skin color white!

If you give a person just a black crayon and ask them to draw a human being, they will not produce anything resembling a black person!

“What are they, then??”

Actual skin color-wise? or Political category-wise?

Political category: BLACK
Skin color: brown, light brown, darker yellowish, some reddish tone

Political category: WHITE
Skin color: Light pink … some yellow … bit of reddish tone

“What race are they though?”

Genetically? Politically? “Race” is a made-up category.

Political: BLACK
Genetic: African (with divisions), Hispanic/Latino (with divisions), etc.

Political: WHITE
Genetic: European/Eurasian, Western Asian/Cyrillic, etc …

As far as “forms” and “checkboxes” are concerned, the point is more that black people are “Black” simply because that happens to be the current custom … at one point in time it was “acceptable” to call certain people “Colored.” Now, that’s an abomination, and for good reason, but “Black,” in my opinion, is even less appropriate than “Colored;” it just happens to be the current convention.

Look, I understand we’ve got some sort of inherent need to label other people SOMETHING if they don’t look like ourselves. And consequently we find we need to label ourselves something as a result. I really don’t have anything better than “Black” and “White” necessarily but I do think it’s mind-boggling that this state of affairs is acceptable to everyone, when there’s no conceivable way in hell it’s helping bring people together, and is almost unquestionably making things worse.

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