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The connection of Black magic to Blackness has been contingent on the narrative of race. Through a socially excepted concept like race, Black Magic tends to take the unforgotten and erased narrative. A concept that I have talked about extensively before is the idea of racial erasure. For any of these relationships to make sense to the academic mind, an explanation of race must be addressed so that a common theme is created to connect blackness, race, and Black Magic together.
The idea of race is a concept which signifies and symbolizes social conflicts and interests by referring to diverse types of human bodies. By understanding race through a scientific, historical, and societal lens it is evident that race can have several meanings that continue to keep the world at a barrier to progress. As a society, we ask race to do too much. We have not come to accept that race cannot answer all our question. The question of whether another person’s belief or perception of race should be validated more, is at the forefront of political chaos within America. After extensive research and reading pertaining to race, Blackness, and erasure, it is important to note the factors that continue to diverge the ideas of race among people. While the societal creation of race dates to the mid-15th century, it is equally important to understand the historical implications that continue to impact one’s idea of race in present day.
Race has often been the product of scientific thought. It was thought that race was a biological factor. The theory was coined, but limited research went into the experiment, so the theory is still unsolved. The main contrasting constituent of race as a scientific theory, is that no race has a complete set of individualistic defining phenotypes or genotypes that are accurate enough to be native to one specific race. W.E.B Du Bios’ article on The Souls of Black Folks helps to answer the question, why we should reconsider the concept of race. The original concept of race is defined by the differences among racial group visibility in different countries. On the physical side, race encompasses blood, language, common history, impulses, ideal of life, and striving. Split in the middle is the spiritual aspect of race that encompasses the traditions of specific races. By understanding a culture’s tradition, we learn that there must be a common history, language, and impulse that groups those individuals together. Within Du Bios’ argument, he argues that the idea of race can be equated to civilization. The truth is that we ask race to do too much; there is nothing in the world that can do all we ask “race” to do for us. Appiah’s theory catches society up in the concept of race, rather than diving deeper into the understanding of the individual. Appiah believes that the defining lines of the concept of race is not needed if we focus on civilization. Because Appiah is an eliminativist he believes that races do not exist, that acting as if they do is dangerous. His circular theory of race constitutes a common event history or a socially created entity.
The infamous Tina Turn once said “I know the difference between black and white magic”, it is through her observation that the notion of Black Magic is negatively constructed. Black Magic has often been the describing factor for Blackness through the years. My short paper has been constructed to add a new spin to the Black Magic narrative, in hopes that it gives you a new perspective of Blackness as a form of Black Magic.
The connection of Black magic to Blackness has been contingent on the narrative of race. Through a socially excepted concept like race, Black Magic tends to take the unforgotten and erased narrative. A concept that I have talked about extensively before is the idea of racial erasure.
Claudia Rankine’s, “Citizen”, helps to depict the ideal of racial erasure that is housed within the everyday experience of the black body; moreover, blackness.
In my ENLS 290 course with Professor Gillespie, Erasure, we have toiled with the concept of racial erasure and its impact on Blackness. A very notable conversation that we have had was centered around the infamous musical, Hamilton. Lyra D. Monteiro’s article, Color-Blind Casting: Thomas Jefferson and the Erasure of the Black Past in Hamilton, exploits the hypocrisy that lies within whiteness. Hamilton is the modern rendition of the founding story of America that no one wants to revisit. With a predominately colored cast, the production of Hamilton seeks out to bring back black bodies to the theater. In lieu of the recent Oscar results, it seems only fair that productions like Hamilton continue to rise and inspire colored people to take a stand on the narratives that they choose to create. Hamilton represents one of few colored created productions that have been put into place to inform whites that not all works will speak to them. The invalidation of the white experience is to defy the societal norm that what is white should always be considered right.
I consider Blackness to be like Black Magic because of the magical aspects that Blackness encompasses. Through Blackness, the narratives of black bodies have been constructed in a critical perspective to fit into the white narrative that society has constructed. Black Magic encapsulates the experiences of black bodies and uses them to break the stereotypical narrative of Blackness. Philosophy and Race has strong ties to Erasure because they help to bring the full effect of race and its relationship to Blackness; moreover, Black Magic. A few days ago, we were blessed with the opportunity to speak with a band called Death. It is through this presentation that I have been able to toil with the idea of decolonizing Black Magic. Simply, how do we get to the roots of the problems that Blackness face. As I will mention in later parts of my writing, Bucknell has done an exceptional job at making Blackness accessible to all students through the Griot Institute and Africana Studies departments.
Black Magic has always carried with it a negative connotation of often promoting violence and death. The misconception of Black Magic dates to the creation of the religions, Voodoo and Satanism. It was through these religions that early Europeans categorized the believers of them as evil. Before the creations of Blackness and race, the use of Black Magic began to emerge as an entity that would kill mankind. Since the creations of both Blackness and race, Black Magic has been erased and re-inscribed as a tool to destroy and erase the black narrative. Through the social, historical, and scientific constructions of race, Black Magic has woven its way into the narratives of all. The concept of Blackness connects to race through the creation of the Black Diaspora. It is through the Black Diaspora that race plays its role in separating individuals based on physical features. No matter the opposition that it has received over the years, Black Magic manifests on and is a prominent figure on Bucknell’s campus.
“Erasure is what systemic racism and oppression feed off. Erasure of black bodies and black voices is what allows officers of the law to walk away from the homicides they’ve committed before even being taken to trial, which would have at least humored us into believing that the government can be just and fair. Erasure is everywhere, from our justice system to our art and popular culture where being a black creator has typically meant that you are only valuable if appetizing to a white consumer market, and, in turn, able to be reimagined as a form of art without non-white origins.” Brittany Spanos
‘‘Erasure’’ refers to the practice of collective indifference that renders certain people and groups invisible. The word migrated out of the academy, where it alluded to the tendency of ideologies to dismiss inconvenient facts and is increasingly used to describe how inconvenient people are dismissed, their history, pain and achievements blotted out. Compared with words like ‘‘diversity’’ and ‘‘representation,’’ with their glib corporate gloss, ‘‘erasure’’ is a blunt word for a blunt process. It goes beyond simplistic discussions of quotas to ask: Whose stories are taught and told? Whose suffering is recognized? Whose dead are mourned?” Parul Sehgal
In present day, Black magic has manifested its way to Bucknell University through the Griot Institute and Africana Studies programs. Over the course of the semester there have been many presentations that have aided the Bucknell community to understand erasure as an event of history and a product of society. A very notable presentation that was given titled, A Band Called Death, instructed the Bucknell community to “Stand Behind Their Brother” as we band together to fight erasure and violence against the erased. “Back up your brother!” A seemingly harmless set of words was what catapulted Death to top the punk rock charts. Between Dennis and Bobby, their frustration with their band mate David was evident. From David’s decision to call the band Death, to upholding the band’s name instead of gaining wealth by dismantling it. “If you give them the title of the band, you might as well give them everything!” David’s decision to stand behind the name of the band was the product of prayer. David used his strong praying abilities to ask his God for guidance in whether to uphold the name that was created through his spiritualty, or to give in and leave everything he created. Dennis and Bobby’s will to stand behind their brother helped us to see an answer to erasure. If society could just stand behind their brothers and sisters, erasure would not be as heinous as it is to minoritized communities. By standing behind your brother and sister during times of erasure, you help to fill in the erased portions of their identity. Although the documentary is seen through a lens of understanding erasure, it gives its audience knowledge to dismantle erasure and ultimately racial violence.
All in all, Black Magic is the correct term to define Blackness. The manifestation of an erased identity to the visibility of it on predominately white college campuses, prove that Blackness is magical. In a society where the African American identity is not coherent, it is important that we shed light to the erased narratives of Blackness. As I dive deeper into the topic of Blackness, I find that using Appiah’s theory of the one-drop rules makes the theory of Blackness vague and incomplete. To combat Appiah’s belief of one-drop rule, which is a socially constructed rule that considers the small portions of blackness that is in other races, I will utilize the theories of Lionel K McPherson and Tommie Shelby to better understand what being Black means. By not choosing Appiah’s theory, Blacks are able to maintain control over the political movements, or solidarity movements that are made to benefit them. I believe that heading into this direction with my research will allow for me to understand how to push the white renegade belief; that to gain access to solidarity with blacks, passing whites need to stick to Blackness through glory and defeat. I hope that my research on Blackness will prove to society that it is not acceptable to be Black for the fame and glory, and not for the hardships and gore.
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