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African Cultural Calendar blog

One Drop of Black Blood


There was a time when one drop of black blood made you one of us. The reason it made you one of us had nothing to do with black blood. That rule was not developed because black blood is so powerful that it turned everyone it touches into one of us. We did not put in place. It was put in place by the evil that oppressed us. They thought that they had so much power over us that they could define who we are. They used it as a way to determine who should get the economic benefits from our labour and who would own the wealth of the nation. This was a way for our enemies to have full access to our women sexuality without transferring any economic value to them. One drop of black blood meant that you were a slave and you had no rights to property. That definition was also used because it had nothing to do with what makes human beings people. Even though this is an Africans in America specific rule, it has spread across the diaspora. These days you can find people in various countries though out the diaspora using that definition to claim that they are one of us. That they are entitled to something that we have, it could be as simple as their right to use the N-word. Despite its ubiquity and the belief of many of us, it is not true. It has never been true, but what it has done is hide the truth about what made us a people or how you became one of us. Don’t get us wrong. In the USA the drop of black blood rule is everywhere. Courts have used it, scholars have studied it and people generally believe it. But none of those things made it true, and if we are going to reclaim our lives and be whole again, we have to know what makes us who we are. We have to understand what our ancestors were doing. ...

If you are one of us, you know it because when you were made Africa was given birth in you. Long before Tiger Woods said he was not one of us there were women who had spread their legs for black men who were going around saying that their children are not black. These women, of course, were the first indication that integration was a failure and the gains from our efforts would accrue to our enemies. These women were not saying that they wanted their children to be judged on the contents of their character. They were not interested in a society where people have equal opportunities regardless of their colour. They were saying that they did not want their children to be considered black, to be considered one of us. They knew that if their children were considered black their children would not have the same opportunity for economic success as their non-black siblings or cousins. With Tiger Woods declaration, these women did not have to say any more, they had achieved their goal. They had developed a different category for their children, which guaranteed their children economic success that far out stretched that of the average black person.

One of the first outcomes of integration is that women who had spread their legs for black men were able to take home their children. You don’t have to spend a lot of time in our communities to find people whose mothers could not take them home. So they were given to somebody in the community. Usually the father’s relative but it could be anyone who was willing to take the child and make him or her one of us. If you are a person who was made by us, when you saw Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time” video you understood it. Or, when you heard Sir Mix-A-Lot said, “red beans and rice didn’t miss her” you knew what he meant. No matter where you are in the diaspora, you recognized those things. If you were made by us, there are other things that you would recognize as well. One of those things is something that your mother probably passed on to you. She told you “it takes people to make people”. Your mother did not make that aphorism up; it is our ancestors’ wisdom. That is the key to what made you who you are. It is how our ancestors made us. A little while ago, our enemies were going around saying that “it takes a village to raise a child”. That too is our ancestors’ wisdom, but what our enemies do not know is what it takes to be a village. All over the diaspora we have created villages, for we could not have survived without them. They were found everywhere. Sometime, the village was the slave quarters; they were the Quilombos or the Maroons settlements. They are the communities that we have built in those disparate places around the world. In America, the one drop rule meant that anyone with a marginal connection to our ancestors lived in our villages. That is where it takes a village to raise a child was practiced. That is where “it takes people to make people” was put to practical use. Where the people who made us could be found. If you are wondering whether you are one of us, an African at home or in the diaspora, ask yourself, who made you?

The village is not what it used to be, not everyone with one drop of black blood live in it. The enemy’s women can now take home their babies. These women do not know anything about us. They were not interested in becoming one of us when they were spreading their wild seeds or rebelling against their upbringing. They are not people who could make people. They cannot make you us. One drop of black blood has never made anybody one of us, and you are no exception. If you are one of us that is because you were made by us, and Africa lives in you.