The value of "Black"
Donald Glover in Interview Magazine
I’m about halfway between offline and extremely online. The latter is what I describe as tweeting every goddamn thought that pops into my brain, which I no longer do, thanks to my Twitter ban. So when Donald Glover says, “Everyone I meet who’s active on the internet looks tired as fuck in real life,” in the latest issue of Interview, I feel him. I’m a lot less tired than I was two years ago! I’m sure there’s plenty of discussion about this one particular exchange in his essay (he interviews himself, which is not an interview): “Are you afraid of Black women?” Why are you asking me that? “I feel like your relationship to them has played a big part in your narrative.” I feel like you’re using Black women to question my Blackness. I won’t wade into it except to say this is clearly trolling on his part and I’m not sure to what end!
The part of the essay that intrigued me the most** was this: “Do you think “Black” has lost its value?” In what way? “In whatever way you think it means.” I definitely think it’s diluted in the marketplace. Because everyone can do it and it doesn’t have to be authentic. It happens every 10 to 15 years. I think we’re at the tail end of it now, though. “Do you have any advice for being at the tail end of this cycle?” I think just focus on your perspective, not your “Blackness.” I find that only a lot of people perform “Black” for other extremely online Black people who crave an authenticity in representation that doesn’t even exist in their own lives. Look. Being online gave me a voice and a career I would not have had otherwise. But before I looked at other people’s opinions online, I was just living my life. And in my life, I am a Black gay man. Far too many people are concerned with who they come across as rather than just being their damn selves.
Rothaniel was inspiring. One, a standup special from a black gay comedian being discussed with the gravitas it deserves is moving to me. I loved the similarities with my own life that he discussed (a chilly relationship with my mother, a former embarrassment by my full name). I loved the differences (I can’t tell if I envy his relationship with his dad or I’m grateful not to have had that). Mostly, I love how he interrogated himself. Really, truly, pulled a Brenda Leigh Johnson in The Closer on himself. It’s the most moving piece of art I’ve seen since I May Destroy You. That, to me, is the “value” of Black.
**Besides the part where he said it’s time for Zendaya to leave Sam Levinson. I cackled.