Eight Signs You're "Just Black" Even Though You Believe You're "New Black"

D Dipasupil/Getty Images for WE tv
D Dipasupil/Getty Images for WE tv

New Black fever has continued to spread. It started last year with Pharrell's interview with Oprah where he spoke of a new Blackness that doesn't transcend race and culture as much as it attempts to make it obsolete. Since then, several celebrities — including Raven Symone, Kanye West, and (most recently) Common — have spoken about how race and racism just don't matter all that much anymore, and some "regular" people have started to believe it.


Now, there seems to be some confusion about what exactly makes a person "New Black." Or, more specifically, what distinguishes a "New Black" person from a regular ole Black person. How can someone who thinks they're New Black tell they're Just Black?

The people have questions. I have answers.

1. You're Black

This is key. Although the New Black person might sincerely believe he's New Black, if he's Black — which all New Black people happen to be — he's actually Just Black.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with being Just Black. John Shaft was Just Black. As is Uhura from Star Trek, James Baldwin, my mom, and Jesus. Just Blackness is the shit.

2. Other people are aware you're Black

A byproduct of being a Black person is the fact that other people can usually determine you are, in fact, Black. This is because human beings can see things. And, being Black usually means that other human beings can see that you are, in fact, Black. And if other human beings can see that you are, in fact, Black, you can't be New Black.

3. You have Black parents

Unfortunately for those attempting to circumvent Just Blackness, having Just Black parents likely means that you're Just Black too. In fact, there's something like an 100% certainty that Just Black parents will produce Just Black babies. And, if you were a Just Black Baby, there's also like an 100% certainty you grew up to be a Just Black person.


4. You're alive in 2015

Last year, a group of scientists invented Vantablack, the darkest material ever created. Perhaps, in a few years, some scientist will also invent or some world-wide calamity will cause a New Blackness. Unfortunately, I can't quite describe how this would happen or how this would look, because it's 2015 and it hasn't been invented yet.


5. You look like other Black people

Often, when Black people give birth to Black people, those people come out looking like other Black people. If you look like another Black person — maybe a parent, maybe a cousin, maybe Shirley Chisholm — this is often a very telling indication that you might actually be Black. And if you're actually Black, you're Just Black and not New Black.


6. You've once identified yourself as Black

If you've checked the Black box in the census, or applied for a Black scholarship, or listened to Angie Stone's "Brotha" and felt acknowledged, or ever willingly purchased African shea butter stored in tupperware smidget container, you're most likely a Black person who, at one point in his life, was aware he is a Black person. If you were once aware you are Black, guess what? You're still Black! And, if you're still Black, you're Just Black.


7. You've been given special treatment because of your Blackness

Sometimes this special treatment is good (i.e.: affirmative action, getting picked first in pickup basketball, not having people ask you for directions, etc). And sometimes it's bad (i.e.: stop and frisk, denied loan applications, getting picked first in pickup basketball and making everyone mad when they realize you suck, etc). Either way, sometimes Black people are treated differently after people observe they are, in fact, Black. If this has happened to you, you're probably a Black person. And, if you're probably a Black person, you're also probably Just Black too.


8. You've attempted to convince people you're "New Black"

Because the only people who attempt to convince people they're "New Black" are "Just Black." It's like the chicken and the egg or something.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



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