On Waka Flaka And The Confused Black Identity

"I'M NOT BLACK!" 

... O.K Waka


Media: GIPHY

What I am about to discuss It's going to be very intricate and sensitive matter because we're going talk about identity within the Black community. This is a touchy subject because we're talking about a systemic issue. It is a systemic issue because we are referring to the ways in which systemically identity, ethnicity and race has been understood within the Black community and how the perception and experiences shape the way we identify. As Kanye West once said " we are at war with ourselves".

Media: GIPHY

When I first heard about Waka Flocka and him not perceiving his self as Black, I thought it was problematic without even looking at the interview and then I decided to watched it.



I say this is problematic because from what I understand about BLACKNESS, WAKA IS A BLACK MAN. He's also a rapper and entrepreneur who whether or not he wants to refer to his body as a Black body he is living in one. He is being perceived as a Black body. He is walking through America and any country of that matter or continent and is a person with Black Brown skin. In living in his Black body as a Black man, he is susceptible to the stereotypes many Black men have to face. He holds BLACKNESS. So, with that being said coming into watching the interview I already held these ideas above as truth in what I understood as BLACKNESS. Waka’s interview brought up so many emotions associated with me last year as a woman who was struggling with understanding what it meant to be African-American versus Black versus African etc. More importantly, how these ethnic identifiers can serve as a form of identity and disunity. This can be problematic when trying to understand our history and where we come from, specifically pertaining to our connection to the continent of Africa and our direct ancestry linkage. There are a few things I want to note about his interview:

1. Waka was wearing a 'Black by popular demand' shirt .

2. In the beginning of the interview he openly use Black or Blackness as an ethnic identifier when discussing ‘Black don't crack’.

3. He quickly switched out Blackness for Aboriginal or Indigenous people when talking about how we as a community age beautifully.


But, the conversation took a left turn… When Waka was beginning to say "he can't connect with the term African-American..he don't know what that is.. he's not Black" I connected it to how so long Black folks have struggled with being able to have an ethnic identifier that encompasses their "Black ass identity" and their relationship to their original Homeland.

When Waka said he couldn't connect with the term (African-American) I thought it was going to be the argument of the identifier and how it's refers to the whole continent of Africa and him not understanding where in the hell in Africa can Black folks directly pinpoint their ancestry to? Where can we trace our lineage? Is it only then we can refer to ourselves as “African-American” or more specifically toward the country in which our ancestors derived: whether this be Nigerian-American, Ghanaian-American etc.? (Side note: Here's a really dope article that explains this concept.) That's not where this argument went.

Waka’s reasoning for not being African-American is because his grandmother and older ancestors of his family are 100% Indian. I don't find this to be alarming because in my life I've encountered many Black folks who have said that "they are a 100% this or that".

For instance Black folks who sound like this example below:

Sista Girl: Oh, I'm "Black, Irish and Asian.

Media: GIPHY

As it pertains to Waka, personally, I don't know his family ancestry make-up. However, I would say that there's no way in hell you can tell me that Waka Flaka is not Black.

Waka's "separation" from Blackness is a reminder of so many people who want to be anything other than a Black identity. Sometimes it to break away from the system and labels of the eurocentric world and sometimes it's to do away with Blackness all together. It's problematic because it's clear that Waka is going through an identity crisis. In the interview Waka noted "he is uneducated in his Blackness" as so many of us are.

Waka said:
“When it comes to talking about African Americans, I have no education with that. Period. I’m not even connected to that. That’s a system. That’s like connected to ‘Hey he’s a bad guy. Don’t hang with him.’ I’m not African American at all. My folks is not from Africa. A lot of people in this room’s folks not from Africa. Might be a couple. People just don’t understand. I ask my grandma, what’s your background? She like, ‘Red foot and Black toe Indian.’ Yeah, my mother and father, we’re 100 percent Indian.’ Ask my other grandma, we got Cherokee in us, European and Italian, a little Dominican. It’s crazy. Y’all looking at me funny like, ‘N*gga, I’m African. You’re not though. 80 percent of slaves was already here, was natives


“I’m other. I’m uneducated. So for me to sit here like a college professor, I’m wrong. I’m uneducated. I’m confused. But I’m damn sure not Black. You not going to call me Black. My grandmother is not Crayola. I’m connected to a tribe. I’m from a tribe, not a country. It’s a big difference. Different laws, different everything. Big difference.”
It’s clear that in the midst of this, someone, likely from Waka’s team taps Sway and probably told him to change the subject because homeboy was f*cking up.
But Waka circled back, “I don’t want to make n*ggas feel like I’m on some other sh*t because I’m saying I don’t want to connect with African Americans like I’m saying f*ck Black. It’s nothing like that. It’s that my eyelids is up. And when your eyelids is up, you read about everything you put in your mouth, you say out your mouth, you walk, you talk and conversate with. I don’t live for money everyday no more. I live for the truth.”

However, he knows that there's something more to this ethnic identifier of Blackness, this ethnic identifier of African-American, the goals of Africanism, and the negative perceptions that comes with being Black globally. But, in many ways he is wrong in his approach. For instance, Africa IS NOT A DAMN country. It is problematic for him to proceed with saying he is from a tribe that he's doing away with Blackness (as if his tribe does not derive from Africa in the first damn place). It is problematic for him as a Black man to this disregard his Blackness but also wear a shirt that promotes Black identities and does it for the culture. It is problematic for him to be able to assess systemic issues in his country and Universal hate for Blackness and still not perceive his self as a Black body. I say all this to say Blackness is not one "thing". You can be Black you can also be Latinx. You can be Black and you can be from Spain. You can be Black and you can be African (in fact you are, I shouldn't have to say this). Whether or not you want to identify with Blackness or Black identities, Black bodies are connected. They are connected through, to and from the Transatlantic Slave Trade. They are connected through oppression. They are connected through different boats stops, through different cultures, enslavement and experiences and through different forms of white supremacy influencing the plights of Black bodies and the struggles we face today. I didn't miss what Waka was trying to say in terms of him getting more education. I didn't miss the fact of in terms of us as a collective educating ourselves to become woke and in terms of us understanding “labels” that have been thrown against us by a White patriarchal society. But, his delivery was not all the way there. No matter what heights are walking, we have come to know no matter how much education we have, especially in terms of the eurocenritic perspective there is still more knowledge to seek. There is a need of corrections we must address. When we as brothers and sisters sit up and discuss foolery and problematic rhetoric damaging our community it always brings us back to disunity and confusion within the Black community as to what and who we truly are? My thoughts on this are simple: Waka is not the only Black body walking in this confusion. He is not the only Black body that needs correction or to connect with his goddamn Blackness and see the world for what it really is. He is not the only Black body who is thinking this way. With that said Waka's interview opens up the conversation for how do we as Black folks gain more education in terms of our truth? What books do we read? How do we define Blackness, or our "identiti-ness" for any matter (yes I made up a damn word)? Where do we find this meaning of self, without detaching from ourselves? How can we do it without detaching from our communities and not shutting out those who are trying to find their f*cking selves? 


It's not a one sided answer but a continual understanding of our history, and our current stage within Blackness and Whiteness. 

On the flip side: this ninja is tripping...

4 comments:

  1. Good topic! Here's my take since I didn't take much energy to listen to the interview (I'll admit that). It seems as if Waka is on the right track, but it's hard for me to stand behind him on this one. For the fact alone that he's wearing a "Black By Popular Demand" shirt, that contradicts his entire argument. For him to wear that whether he paid for it or not, he endorses it; which means in some way/shape/form he symbolizes Blackness.

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    Replies
    1. I agree, take the shirt off. Thank you so much for stopping by.

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