Real Nigga Syndrome



For quite some time now, I’ve been contemplating how exactly to address this word being used to describe people in the world. Much to my dismay, in the black community the word “real” is constantly used to either denigrate, defame and disparage or to acclaim, applaud, and accredit an individual.


(Please understand that these things are not mutually exclusive, so depending on the hour of the day, the latest rumor, the activity one has engaged in, or whose company you kept on a random Tuesday morning, any of the aforementioned adjectives might apply to you and yet be very different by Thursday evening after being witnessed in the company of the same individual you were with on Tuesday. I’m no expert on the matter, but in my experience, this behavior seems to be more acceptable in groups of people that have been victimized by countless years of oppression and systemic discrimination.)


A clear example of this is when you’re not a “real” black person or definitely not black enough if you speak or don’t speak a certain way, had more or less opportunities than the next person, experienced more or less struggles than the next person, and in many circles you are absolutely not a “real” black person if the pigmentation of your nose, thighs and forehead isn’t quite up to snuff, according to the authors of “The Real Black” that is (sarcasm - I hope such a book/title doesn’t exist, but I can’t say that I’d be completely shocked).


If you’ve been around black people enough, you would have certainly heard the phrases: “that’s real talk right there, you ain’t no real nigga, that bitch is so real, they can’t really be black, just keep it real, be real with me” and a host of other regressive thoughts and ideas. The problem with these statements, phrases and many like them is the word "real."


Humans, in general, are rarely ever always one thing consistently. They're real, fake, brilliant, complex, extroverted, honest, liars, truthful, smart, forthcoming, cagey, disabled, able-bodied, learned, dishonest, introverted, troubled, evolved, regressive, emotional, joyful, jealous, passionate, faithful, adulterous, angry, sad, happy, indifferent, poor, broke, rich, fucked up, sane, functional, crazy, emotionally intelligent, dumb as fuck, witty, ignorant, wealthy, lazy, energized, so many more things; and often very paradoxical.


In my not so humble opinion, our biggest issue is that we lack perspective (yours truly included) and want so badly to fit in and see the world from other's lenses instead of using our own vision. And, it can be terrifying for us to admit that we have no vision and lack the ability to lead lives where the focus is pleasing ourselves and not others.


This concept of black people being a monolith is a myth we, unfortunately, don’t fight hard enough to dispel, especially when we encounter it from people who by-in-large would be considered BLACK. So the next time you hear someone saying “that ain’t no real nigga” because the individual in question walked away from a heated confrontation, walked into a bar known for Country music with their gay best friend to the left of them and their transgender friend to the right, or walked away from their firstborn, remember that more than anything else, they are really human; and all many of us humans want is grace, compassion, and to be loved and cared for in what we consider a “real” way!

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