The numerous different groups on the planet have different lenses, different ways of being, different agendas, and different roles to play out in the grand scheme of existence here. A group can be defined as a collective of people who share something, anything in common: culture, skin color, land mass, ignorance, accent, profession, hair type, intelligence, lineage, ideology, opinions, blood, space...
We got blacks vs. whites. Feminists vs. womanists. Natural vs. relaxed vs. be-weaved. Locs vs. afros. Vegan vs. carnivore. Pro-vax vs. anti-vax. Attentive vs. Cry It Out.
Oh. The. Tension.
Take race relations for example; specifically in the United States. The current clashes between blacks and whites are the natural progression of the foundations of the country. Given the history and how the U.S.A. Corporation was built, I'm surprised that anyone is surprised that the bullshit still goes on. How can it not? That's like constructing a concrete foundation for a one-story building, then being upset when it won't support a high-rise skyscraper.
Context, as always, is everything: the dynamic between groups will be unique to the location where the two encounter one another. My interaction with white folk in Tobago is different from my interaction with white folk in France is different from my interaction with white folk from rural America.
On the micro level of the U.S. alone, it still depends on the setting. The summer of 2013 was a case study in the different types of white folk as we traveled cross-country selling our jewelry and incense at festivals.
It truly was a most enjoyable field experiment. My interaction with many white folk at the spiritual yoga Bhaktifest in Madison, WI was different from the few white folk at Afropunk in Brooklyn, NY was different from the white folk at Reggaefest in eastern Ohio was different from the white folk at Oktoberfest in Yup-Yup-Ville, Chicago.
Just like blacks don't want to be "monolithi-cized," I can assure you that there are many different types of white folk. Depends on the setting and the culture and the consciousness. (Ahem. I'll pass on the Northside Chicago Yup-Yups; take all the others I mentioned above.)
When I say race is bullshit, I am in no way dismissing the very real repercussions of what happens when people buy into the false notions of the cultural differences which only partially define us.
Those who willingly and ignorantly participate in or turn a blind eye to the systemic scourge of white privilege and racism are not off the hook because race doesn't biologically exist. It just makes it all the more ridiculous--and very apparent--when you recognize that the foundation of so many institutions is a complete falsehood.
White supremacy is built upon sand instead of rock, and it cannot stand if you don't participate in it. It's that simple.
Who is black? WHAT is black, anyway? We know that race is a social construct and has no biological or genetic basis in any reality.
So-called blacks in America have incredibly mixed bloodlines; don't even get me started on the melanated (which is my preferred term over "b-lack") people of the Caribbean.
For example, Nicki Minaj is considered a black musical artist in America because there is the one-drop rule that still stands. Here in her birthplace of Trinidad, however, no one would refer to her as such--they'd call her a "dougla," a term to describe a mix of African and Indian heredity. Similarly, I never thought of my kingman Dread as anything other than black until we came to Trinidad.
In the States, blacks tend to be lumped into a homogenized group; interchangeable and all representatives of one another. It's so limiting, and is one reason why I think some blacks think of and find themselves as disadvantaged.
Sure, many Africans in the diaspora are disconnected from their culture, but the cultures on the continent are MYRIAD. Africa is home to THOUSANDS of "types" of melanated beings, and they're not all "the same" despite looking the same. Ask the Hutus and the Tutsies of Rwanda, or compare Ghanaians to their next-door neighbor Nigerians and see what happens.
In Tobago, when you're a black person surrounded by other black-skinned people, your self-expression and individuality is what speaks for you. The content of your character is actually the basis for judgment.
And it's different around the Caribbean and Southern Hemisphere, too.
A medium brown-skinned black-identifying American may be called "mulatto" in Brazil because their skin tone isn't the darkest brown. In the Dominican Republic, one is considered "black" or "white" due to skin color and hair texture, regardless of blood. For example, actresses Kidada and Rashida Jones, who are sisters with the same mixed blood, would be considered black and white, respectively, due to their natural features.
When someone like me travels to certain parts of Europe (such as France or England), people there will consider me American before they label me black. And even in my familial country of Zambia, my accent would cause people to initially see me as American despite my ethnic heritage being from right there.
To use a non-racial example:
How could one know just how useless politricks are without glaring, blatant examples of the dysfunctional game at large? "They" kind of make it easy for us to see how much of a joke they are, and as such "they" are great examples of why we should take the reins on our lives. We are the captains of our own ships, and the ridiculousness of politricks and governments is there to nail home the fact that we must steer our own ships. Who needs a leader when all the options are androids?
What would you do if tomorrow there was 100% world peace? Most people would get bored-- it's the chaos and drama that keeps folk entertained when they tune into the news networks. Stuff happens, and we can either allow it to depress us, or we learn and grow from it--become stronger, and recalibrate.
My point here is that you can't have one without the other-- how could we know what we don't like if everything in life was 100% likable? We wouldn't even know what it means to like something if everything was just cool and "liked" by default. How does one know what sweet tastes like without having experienced sour?
The "other" serves to be an example and catalyst to remember that which we are NOT. The archetypal Adam and Eve characters had to bust out of that Edenic utopia in order to grow and have some kind of evolutional experience. Just like the life lessons that have occurred in Trinidad: we still experience plenty of opportunities to grow-- just on a prettier, warmer backdrop than before. And it never ends.
Everyone kind of needs to just let one another be what they are. Accept whatever is as what it is. We can share ideas, but there's no urgent need to MAKE someone see things from your perspective, especially when they lack any working context from which to draw. It’s really okay.
To my people, I ask: is your "blackness" worn as a badge of honor as an original being, or the trumps-all medal in the oppression olympics? Which do you want to win? Whatever you choose, it is so.
Race is bullshit, and it is what it is-- so use that knowledge to your advantage, rather than detriment.