Blackness. What a strange term. It’s an identifier that focuses solely on colour, but says nothing about history or culture. Yet looking at the Sri Lankans or Fijians who are fervently identified as Asian, or even the plethora of “light-skinned” blacks it is clear blackness is about more than skin tone. So what is this blackness? Why, it was this blackness that gave birth to the notorious Black Power Movement in the 1950s, creating swathes of politicised youth, brown folk fighting for their rights, wearing their afros with pride and standing in formation against their oppressors. Black power “took on a spirit of self-pride, self-love, dignity and even resistance” (Muhammad, 2012) to tear down stereotypes and actual discrimination. It was ‘cool’ to be black.
However fast-forward 50 years and black power seems notably silent; “as a movement it’s part of our history, but its no more alive than the abolition movement,” (Johnson, 2011). Without this revolutionary stance, it appears blackness has no substance. Though there are emerging movements like Black Girl Magic and Black Girls Rock. It seems black culture only remains as something that’s on trend, something easy to boast about and even easier to appropriate. In this debate we’ll argue the term “Black Culture”, marked with quotation marks, “ is a lifestyle standard made of assumptions about black identity, often used successfully by marketers, studio heads, fashion brands and music labels to make money” (Simien, 2014). Frankly, either “black” is something to be celebrated, something that contributes positively to black spirituality and self-esteem; or commercialised subculture filled with superficiality and any attempt to truly define yourself in line with this frivolity will leads to an artificial knowledge.