Assimilation into a society can be a wonderful thing. Being able to be who you are in appearance and thought, and to be respected as an equal by the greater social community, is a heavenly concept. When people who are visibly different from the dominant majority of members of the community and are truly free to make the choice to keep their ethnic cultures, appearance, traditions, heritage, and spiritual beliefs and are truly welcomed and embraced, then assimilation that respects who we are individually and permits us to remain true to ourselves is a very wonderful thing.
But American racial assimilation does not follow the idea that the ethnicity of the black culture needs to be respected. Assimilation in America is far from being a wonderful thing. Racial assimilation here requires the black minority to leave his or her ethnicity behind as they modify themselves to become what the dominant culture feels is an acceptable black racial identity.
Black people who are strong in their black affiliation are regularly minimized and ridiculed by elements of the dominant community as ineffective leaders while black people who promote principles of cultural assimilation or racially generic identities that minimize black affiliation are marketed as people who have the courage to be independent thinkers. The implication is that black people who think about black issues are run of the mill and nothing to be proud of while black people who can put their blackness behind them are something new, different, and should be an inspiration to other black people.
White people who have embraced their white identity are rarely condemned by the dominant community even when they promote blatant hatred and/or violence. A former secretary of education promotes ideas of aborting all black babies if you want to reduce crime. This man with pretty blatant racial insensitivities can reach the upper echelons of government and suggest ideas of black genocide. How many black people promote the same idea but with white babies and have achieved such a career? Bureau of Justice Statistics prove that white people commit far more crime than black people and therefore it would be far more effective to abort all white babies. The idea of aborting white people is so abhorrent it cannot even be mentioned but the idea of aborting black babies can be hypothesized without fear of retribution.
A white district attorney can go on public record promising black children that he will destroy their lives unless they submit to dominant culture authority and quit making trouble for white children regardless of the fact that white children may have initiated the trouble by hanging racially provocative nooses from trees. A white woman can make it public that she doesn’t want black people buying her clothing. A white television pundit encourages white people to have babies in order to protect the white privilege. A white man tells his son to dump his black girlfriend if he wants to stay in the family business and the dominant community protects his right to be racist behind closed doors while he promotes segregationist behavior that extends far beyond their closed doors and private conversations. A white comedian can get on stage and let loose with one of the most intense displays of racial hatred and animosity and his friends come to his side saying he was only having a bad day.
Imagine how long a black district attorney would stay in his job if he went on stage before an audience of white children and promised that he would make their lives disappear. Imagine the response if a black television pundit told black people to have babies so that they could impact white privilege. Imagine if a black man with a television show was recorded telling his son that if he wanted to stay in the family he had to dump his white girlfriend using colorful racial epithets for white people in the process.
In order for black people to be welcomed to the dominant culture fold, they must promote the concepts that prevent black people from being able to embrace their black identity. Black people who promote the idea that black people are solely responsible for the plight of the black community are given credence by the dominant community which is overwhelmingly white. The dominant majority has a near endless supply of black surrogates ready to espouse a philosophy that encourages the obliteration of black community consciousness and/or identity. A black person who encourages other black people to detach themselves from their blackness cannot honestly say that they are concerned about the welfare of the black community.
It has been suggested that the key to the success in the black community is to conform to the expectations that the dominant community has for the black community. Black people need to become what the dominant community expects of people in the black community. Black people need to adapt to the parameters that the dominant community says defines what is acceptable for black people’s appearance and behavior. And all too often, black people who have adapted these parameters and have embraced them as gospel are quick to judge other black people who choose an identity that may push or even exceed the established boundaries.
Women who don’t take the steps to straighten their hair or who make the choice to wear clothing or accessories that suggest a connection to their African heritage and men who choose to wear their hair long and/or locked are not professional enough in many working environments. Before these people can even demonstrate their qualifications, experience, and/or education they are dismissed as unacceptable. And yet, the workplace would be one that touts an environment that welcomes cultural diversity. However, the welcome is only for those cultural conformist that stand ready to meet the standards set forth for black people by the dominant group. This is the type of assimilation that doesn’t welcome diversity but cultural abandonment.
Assimilation that requires conformation to the expectations of the dominant culture is not respectful of true cultural diversity. Those who dare not conform are frowned upon and ridiculed. Black people who embrace black culture are not generally welcomed in the typical corporate American environment. This is the type of assimilation that black people should learn to detest at each and every opportunity. The black community doesn’t need black people telling us on a regular basis that we have to submit to the establishment’s rules for what is acceptable black appearance and acceptable black behavior. Black people should already have their identity.
For those black people that wish to conform to the dominant community, it goes without saying that that is your prerogative. But it should be the prerogative for other black people to make the choose to define themselves for who they are without having to match the expectations of the establishment. When black people who define themselves are welcomed in the dominant community without having to pretend to be something else, then we have a meeting of cultures that everyone can appreciate and tolerate. This type of assimilation is truly a wonderful thing.