All skinfolk ain’t kinfolk

Am I the only one that gets goosebumps when they hear this phrase? It’s a statement so glaringly truthful that it hurts to even hear it. Maybe hurt isn’t the right word but how else should we feel when people who are “supposed” to have our backs turn around and stick a knife in it? Resentment comes to mind. This statement is one which puts an enormous red stop sign in front of the “black power” movement.

Lets go back to 1857 – “Thomas Garrett and the Underground Railroad”

The article linked above written was by Historian Burton Folsom and details the story of an abolitionist by the name of Thomas Garrett and how he helped Harriett Tubman with the Underground Railroad. One interesting part of his article talks about what happened when a bounty of $12000 was placed on Harriett Tubman for her capture.

Such a sum tempted another escaped fugitive, Thomas Otwell, to try to catch her. Tubman entrusted him to help sneak eight more fugitives to Garrett and then to freedom. Otwell almost delivered her and the fugitives to the police, but Tubman left the group early, and when Otwell took the others to the Dover, Delaware, jail, they managed to break out. Six of them made it safely to Garrett, who quickly rushed them to Pennsylvania before the police could stop him.

Now if you didn’t understand what the excerpt was saying – Otwell (Tubman’s skinfolk) betrayed her for money while Garrett (not skinfolk) helped them along the underground railroad.

All Skinfolk ain’t Kinfolk

Now why did I decide to write about this? Well it all stemmed from a discussion on the radio. The question was, “Can you be pro-black and date outside of your race?” First of all, what does pro-black even mean? It seems to be one of those terms that has become popularized over the last few decades in the USA.

The urban dictionary’s top definition for pro-black is as follows:

Problack – is a lifestyle that encourages the economic growth and development of the black people as a whole with a purpose of increasing the wealth and population of black people around the world. Whether it be spending money with black own business in your communities or online. Promoting love for black people and encouraging black youth is it’s soul purposes to keep uplifting black people in America to be proud and the same time.
I bank with black bank owners, I buy groceries from black own stores and I only circulate my money from one black hand to another I’m as problack as I wanna be. Pro-black revolutionaries and activist don’t think it’s ok to date outside their race but,
when your in love with someone who cares what other people think.

Okay, so lets say that the premise of pro-black is based on the definition in the urban dictionary. Pro-black traditionalists would not support dating outside of one’s race. However, what would we say about someone who checks all the other boxes of what it means to be pro-black? Are they then no longer pro-black? Should relationships be confined to a specific race? It seems to me, that in an effort to preserve our culture and uplift ourselves, we align ourselves with the rules of segregationists. Buy black, vote black, date black, love black etc. I definitely understand the reason for this pro-black movement. Our people have clearly been through a lot and this is a way of rebuilding and preserving our people and culture. However, I believe that just as we expect the government to stay out of our bedrooms, the pro-black movement should too. And to counter act this one could say,  “Who you date is a political statement”. Then I’d say, “Who are you to politicize my love life?” See? This could go on forever.

Poor Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino was the subject of this discussion after he released his “This is America” music video. Old pictures of him together with his partner Michelle (she’s not black y’all) surfaced and the internet quickly began to question his commitment to his people.

People love who they love. Dating outside of your race doesn’t make you less committed to your own people. I wasn’t checking for Donald Glover until he released “Redbone”. I knew about him from the TV show Community. He played a character named Troy and people thought he was funny but he definitely wasn’t a breakout star then. On the internet he was widely known for dressing and smelling like a homeless person. Believe me, it was running joke. Maybe black women weren’t interested in him? Awkward, sweater lover and unkempt didn’t exactly scream DATE ME.

Getting back to the point though. I believe that we as a society shouldn’t have race at the forefront of our list of characteristics for who we want to date. That’s how you miss out on the love of your life and end up with a possibly broken marriage. Yes, I know the counter argument to that is, “What about other countries like India and China etc”. Well I don’t live there, didn’t grow up there and don’t fancy widely implementing their cultural practices here. Just because you decide to marry/date someone within your race doesn’t mean that it will be a successful match. It also doesn’t mean that they will support you no matter what. A similar skin tone does not automatically guarantee a  mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship. So, no Donald Glover isn’t a “sellout” and he’s not fake “woke” just because he’s dating outside of his race. To each his own and to quote the popular phrase;



Ps. I don’t know took me a week to write this (scratches head)

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