I'm In Love With Black People Who Love Being Black People. And Love Black People


It's not terribly uncommon for me to write and/or publish a piece that deals with race — whether its a satirical quiz about a certain strain of regressive pro-Blackness or a piece from one of our writers about a reality show featuring women not quite sure if they're Black — and receive feedback that either questions my agenda or explicitly states I must have some anti-Black agenda. Often, the people making these claims will mention that I work/write for EBONY and The Root — publications that people who love to accuse other Black people of being anti-Black love to cite as not being Black-owned. Therefore, since the publications I receive paychecks from are run by White people (They're not. I'm just playing along here.), my agenda is clear.


Admittedly, I can see how someone could craft that argument based off of my work. I'm somewhat schizophrenic when it comes to what I choose to write about. Monday, for instance, in a six hour span, I wrote an emotionally draining piece about a woman who was murdered after leaving a bar, a considerably lighter piece for The Root about Macklemore and why I'm not feeling his new song, and then an even lighter piece for VSB comparing Stacey Dash to a Bratz doll. And, it's not difficult to imagine someone reading all of this and wondering where the hell my head must be at. Also, if a person isn't familiar with my work, and comes across a piece like the Hotep quiz or the Shit Bougie Black People Love series, I can see how someone could either A) not realize the pieces are intended to be humorous or B) realize they're humorous, but be not quite sure of who they're supposed to be making light of.

With that in mind, let me clear this up today. The people accusing me of having an agenda are right. I do have one, and I intend on it permeating everything I produce. I want everything I write and everything I create to be marinated in it. They're just wrong about the actual agenda.

I love being a Black person. And I'm in love with Black people. Particularly Black people who also love being Black people and don't attempt to minimize or just completely neutralize the Blackness they possess. My "agenda" is to articulate, celebrate, examine, deconstruct, and, ultimately, honor and spread this love by creating spaces where this is able to happen. And, just as importantly, to show other Black people who claim to love Black people that their love is incomplete — valueless, actually — if it's restrictive, regressive, and doesn't include people who don't fit some inverse ideal of what Blackness is supposed to be. Your love for Black people doesn't mean shit if it doesn't include Black women. Or Black men. Or Black homosexuals. Or Black atheists. Or Black Christians. Or Black…you get my point. If your love subjugates and discriminates, it's not love. It's vanity.

Naturally, you can not love every single Black person. But while you can — and probably should — put conditions on that love based on what that particular Black person happens to do if it directly damages other people (sexual assault, murder, putting kale in the potato salad, etc) you cannot put conditions on that love based on who that particular Black person was born to be. And still claim to love us.

Of course, there are Black people who believe that making Blackness inclusive is inherently anti-Black because it "weakens" us. Whatever and whoever doesn't fit their ideal of what makes a stronger Black community — whether its feminism or atheism or being Christian or being queer — are cancers that need to be eradicated. But what they don't get is that this journey includes all of us. If it doesn't, there's no journey. No community. No love. No point.

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)



Being Black has been an interesting concept for me. I've never rejected my Blackness, but it seems like there are plenty of Black people ready to read me out of the race. This is one of the few spaces where I can be on some different ish and not have my Black card revoked. I'm not religious, I'm into different stuff in the bedroom and voting booth, and there's the not-so-trivial matter of being a multiethnic Black person. Thanks for having the space here. Besides Blackness is too interesting not to explore.

By the way, I'm plowing through Negroland. Suffice to say a lot of childhood stuff that happened to my parents makes a LOT of sense now. Thanks Val!