I have a cousin-in-law that shall remain nameless. Being that she is about 13-14 years old, she tends to be precarious. However, she is a sweet young lady that lives life on her own terms. Also, she doesn’t get into a lot of trouble. I can truly say that she is a regular, happy teenager.

Yet, there had been some concerns early on about identity. I’m not totally sure they were with her or mainly with her mother. You see, my cousin in law has a white father and a black mother. Her mom was wondering how she should raise her. And with that, I understand the conundrum that having a mixture of two races may bring.

Once my wife talked to me about it, I noted one important thing: she shouldn’t concern herself with identifying with anything. The only thing that should be of her concern is how her life is lived.

The Re-education of Zoe Kravitz

Cultural identification has been difficult for people because many haven’t realized that a person’s race isn’t monolithic. However, Zoe Kravitz (by way of Nylon Magazine) figured things out once she plunged down the rabbit hole of self-awareness:

I identified with white culture, and I wanted to fit in. I didn’t identify with Black culture, like, I didn’t like Tyler Perry movies, and I wasn’t into Hip Hop music. I liked Neil Young.

Black culture is so much deeper than that, but unfortunately that is what’s fed through the media. That’s what people see. That’s what I saw. But then I got older and listened to A Tribe Called Quest and watched films with Sidney Poitier, and heard Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. I had to un-brainwash myself. [1]

Kravitz simplified the situation in a manner much clearer than the purified waters of Lake Minnetonka. People haven’t truly realized that being Black doesn’t automatically come with expected behaviors. In truth, being Black is quite the opposite.

Zoe Kravitz Explained It All

Many have yet to realize that Blackness is not monolithic. There is no one thing that all Black people are supposed to do outside of not hate themselves. If you don’t like Young Thug and would rather listen to Elvis Costello, then who is stopping you? If you rather play soccer and lacross than basketball and baseball, then don’t let me get in your way. Blackness transcends all binding ideals and boxed-in-cultural-norms.

What also needs to be understood is that Blackness isn’t all that absent from some of these “alternative choices” of expression. It shouldn’t be strange for a Black person to want to enjoy rock music/blues/alternative/folk music when our musical DNA is all over those genres. Octavia Butler is probably the greatest sci-fi writer not being widely celebrated. If one did research, they would find a Black person involved. So, there is no point of feeling “different” for enjoying what you enjoy.

Zoe Kravitz Understands

Zoe Kravitz has done something that I have seen older people refuse to do: unshackle the mantle of “prescribed blackness”. This prescription for everything Black hinders acceptance and stereotypes Black people in the eyes of other races. The least that could be done is realize that we, as Black people, are not going to be the same. Maybe other races may follow suit. If not, then at least we can realize for ourselves that our culture exceed asinine assumptions.

‘Nuff Said and ‘Nuff Respect!!!