Definition By Race

In an interview, Robert Griffin III made the comment that he did not want to be defined by being African American in so many words. He believes that he is an individual, regardless of race, who is trying to become the greatest that he can be. He says you never want to be defined by the color of your skin but by your abilities.

That brings up a rather great topic. Does NOT wanting to be defined by your race make you a sell out?

In the African American community, being true to your race is something that is very important. Being black should be a source of strength and pride. If at any moment you DO NOT “appease” your race, there is the strong possibility that people will oust you.

When RG3 made his comments everyone chimed in wondering if this was the beginning of him turning his back on his race or even worse, could possibly be an Uncle Tom. Honestly, I understand exactly where he is coming from.

As a writer, I do not like being categorized as a “black writer”. It absolutely irks my soul. When you are categorized as an African American writer 2 things happen: You get a lot of support from the black community and other races tend to shy away. While it may be great to get that racial backing, it also sucks that others will ignore your work because you are labeled an African American writer. Now, that isn’t 100% true about everyone but it holds truth for many.

Don’t get me wrong, I will never deny the accomplishments of the greats that went leaps and bounds to be published and paved the way for so many writers: Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Ida B. Wells, etc. and so forth. I just feel all of them fought to be called writers, or poets, or playwrights. They fought to be relevant in literature not to just be African Americans who happened to write something. They wanted to let people know they were legitimate in the writing world and give the perspective of the people whom were not recognized at that time.

In today’s day and age, racism is still ever flowing. It’s just not put out there as strongly as before and during the civil rights movement. Our own President struggles because people define him more by race and less by his ability to lead us into a better America. It’s unfortunate, but I’ve heard Black folks say that Barack was a sell out because he’s not doing “enough” for black people (whatever that means).

My point in all this is being defined by your race is just another form of racism. It directs your own race to you and other races away from you in most cases.

Watch a football game because you like football, not because your quarterback is black. Vote on election day because you want change, not because the candidate is the same skin color. Read a book because you love to read, not because the writer is African American.

The color lines need to be blurred and we need to stop putting so much stock into a person behind their race. There are good and bad, smart and dumb, artistic and manic people in every race. While you should be proud of your own, you should also be proud of anyone who accomplishes the unthinkable.

I mean, really dude, definition by race is so lame. Support people because they are awesome people, not because they look like you.

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