S1:E4- When Skinfolk Ain’t Kinfolk


By Ally Henny

When Skinfolk Ain’t Kinfolk

Season 1, Episode 4

May 30, 2019



HENNY: This is Ally Henny and you’re listening to “Combing the Roots,” powered by The Witness – A Black Christian Collective. What do you do when you find out that skinfolk ain’t kinfolk? Stay tuned.


HENNY: Hey! I am so happy that you’re listening to this episode of “Combing the Roots.” This topic today is one that I find very difficult to talk about. It’s one that I find very frustrating, even though I hate to admit that it frustrates me, because I feel like it gives a lot of power to it. But it’s something that I think that we don’t always name, and I think that it’s something that needs to be named. And that is when our skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.

Yes, there are Black people out here who do the work of white supremacy. It’s a thing. We know it’s a thing, because we see it. There are Black celebrities who do it. There are Black pseudo-celebrities who have built their platform on doing the work of white supremacy. We have people in our circles who are Black, who do the work of white supremacy. What do I mean by “doing the work of white supremacy”? In case somehow you’re – maybe you’re confused. You won’t be confused once I start naming it. You’ll probably even start thinking of some celebrities – like, “Oh, yeah, that person is out here doing this.” 

What I mean by “Black people who do the work of white supremacy” is, I mean Black people who do not accept, or who reject, or who find themselves wanting to position themselves in a contrary position to our general cultural narrative that racism exists, and that Black people experience racism, and that we have had a struggle in the past and that we continue to struggle; and that we will continue to struggle unless white people change their ways. I think that most Black people accept this idea. Most of us get it. Like, we know. We have experienced it. We have experiences that we can name, that we can say, “This was racist. This was racism.” You’ve been called the N word. You have been discriminated against whenever you’ve gone to the store. You’ve been followed around. You’ve experienced all sorts of different things. I think that most of us would say that’s true. Unfortunately, there is a cadre – and I call it a cadre, but I don’t think that there’s a club; I don’t think that there’s a group that they all go to and are like, “Oh yeah, we’re blind to racism” – but it’s a thing. Some of us would call it being in the sunken place, and I think that saying “being in the sunken place,” that’s – if you’ve seen the movie “Get Out,” then you know what I’m talking about. I think that’s an adequate description of it.

But really what it is for me is, it’s more than just being in the sunken place. It’s doing the work of white supremacy. There are Black people out there who, by their words, by their action – or even sometimes by their inaction – they uphold white supremacy. And so they uphold these things like respectability politics. So they say, “Well, this black kid wouldn’t have gotten shot if he had been dressed properly.” Or “Black people would experience this, or they would get better jobs, or they would this and that, if they could speak standard English.” Or all the various permutations of that argument. “Well, if Black people just, if they would pull up their pants, if they would get an education,” whatever – and it’s this whole idea that Black people need to somehow make themselves better people, then they wouldn’t experience racism. There are Black people who uphold that, who sing that song, who carry that narrative. There are Black people out there who say, “Well, I’ve never experienced racism. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve never had these experiences.” There are Black people, even, that know what we’re talking about – and I’ve experienced this one a lot – but there are Black people that know that racism is a thing, yet they will sort of – they’ll ask these questions. And I’m not against asking questions. Like, asking questions is good, it’s right, it’s proper. But they know that it’s a thing, and they know what the anti-racist talking points are, but they want to position themselves in way that shows, “Well, I’m not one of those Black people.” Because they have this idea that those of us who are out here doing anti-racism work, that we’re somehow, that we want something – that we want a handout, that we are overly sensitive, that we’re something. Basically they’ve bought into the narratives of the dominant culture. They’ve bought into the things the dominant culture says about us, so they want to show themselves not to be one of “those kind” of Black people. So they’ll come into spaces and they’ll ask these kind of leading questions. 

I’ve had this happen, in my Twitter, numerous times. It is usually a Black man. I’m just saying – I’m not trying to diss Black men, but a lot of times it’s a Black man – even though there are Black women who do this also, who have platforms built on this. But I’m not out here naming any names; I’m just saying. But usually in my sphere, for whatever reason, it’s Black men that will pop out the woodwork and will ask these questions. And it’s like, you know exactly what you’re asking, you know exactly what you’re saying; and you want to position yourself, for all of your friends out here. You want to show out. You know how that is sometimes. Like sometimes, there’s a certain demographic of Black people – I’m saying it’s a demographic. I don’t know if it’s a demographic or not. But there are certain Black folks that will get around white people and want to show out. They want to cut up. They want to show that they aren’t like all these others out here. And so I’ve had this happen in my Twitter mentions before, where somebody will come up and come into my Twitter mentions, they will slide into my mentions, and they’ll be like, “Well, what do you mean by that? What’s this and this and this and this?” And it’s like: Look. I know why you’re here. You need to put some lotion on, because you ashy. I know exactly why you’re here. You’re here because you’re stuntin’ and frontin’ for all your little friends over here. I know what’s up. I have your number.

But anyway. There are Black people that are out here that do this, and it’s so – and the reason why it’s frustrating to me, and the reason why it’s disheartening, and the reason why I’m even hesitant – like, I’m recording this, and I don’t even know if I’m even going to put this out here. So if you’re hearing this, know that I’ve thought about it and reflected on it, and thought, “Well, maybe …” And there wasn’t like a better episode, and I decide that I need to put this out here. Because I even hesitate to talk about it, because I feel like it gives these people power. But I think that if we don’t talk about it – I feel like that it’s like a persistent headache. You can have a persistent headache, and it could not be anything. It could just be, you just have a persistent headache; maybe you need to eat, maybe you need to sleep, maybe whatever. Or you could be having a persistent headache, and it could be brain cancer. And so for me, the persistent headache is these contrary Black people who are out here, who are trying to position themselves to make money – I’m not going to be like that. I’m not going to say, Well, they out here trying to make money. I’m not going to be like that. I understand some of the Why; and I’m going to get to some of the Why that I think that this happens, in the next segment. 

But I’m just speaking to the issue right now: that there are Black people that are out here doing the work of white supremacy. And I think that if we continue to ignore this – because I think that for me, I hesitate – I won’t even speak for all of us – but I think that I hesitate to talk about it because I don’t want to give certain people power, because I don’t want to give certain people credence. I don’t want to engage with their ideas, because their ideas suck; because I think that their ideas could easily be dispelled and debunked just by reading a book. And so to do a whole podcast saying, ”Hey, this is an issue: Black people doing the work of white supremacy is an issue” – I feel like it calls unnecessary attention to it. And by calling unnecessary attention to it, then it gives those people space. Like, it’s taking up our time to talk about them. But I feel like that if we don’t talk about them, they’re like the persistent headache that could just be a persistent headache, but it could also be cancer. It could also be brain cancer. And so I feel like that if we don’t talk about this persistent headache, and if we don’t have strategies, if we don’t have ideas, if we don’t understand what the root system of this is; then we run the risk, we could be having – this could be a cancer in the Black community. This could be a cancer in the anti-racism movement that we’re not appreciating, that we’re not appraising and saying, “OK, this is a thing; let’s treat it.”

And so I want to talk about it, because I think that it needs to be talked about. Because I think that if we’re able to name it, then we are able to remedy it. If we can’t name it – if we just say, “Well, it’s this nondescript ailment, or it’s this thing, but yeah, it’s bothering us, yeah, it’s annoying” or whatever – we could be failing to name something that could be a problem.

Now, I don’t think that these people somehow are going to undo completely and utterly the work of anti-racism. I don’t think they’re somehow going to get legislation reversed, and that they’re somehow going to do something on a big, macrocosmic scale; I just don’t think that that’s possible. But at the same time I see where they are allowing and empowering our oppressors to oppress us. I think that oppression, if it comes from any sphere, if it comes from any person, isn’t OK. I think that we have to speak to this issue. So that way, if we can speak to it, and if we know what it is, we can collect our own people. So then maybe some ignorant person, some ignorant white person, so maybe there’s one less voice for them to hear, and there’s one less person for them to hold up and tokenize, and use them to abuse Black people. I think that that is probably my biggest issue with all of this – with all these Black people out here who are building up platforms; who are celebrities who are speaking into this; even people that are just regular folk, who are in Facebook comments, who are in Facebook groups, who are on Twitter; who we interact with in the Black community, and who interact with the people who we go to church with, or who interact with people in the general community – I think that for me, the biggest problem, the biggest issue for me in this, is that these people then have the ability to be held up, and to be tokenized, and to be elevated as some sort of example, or as some sort of voice, or as some sort of whatever. So that’s my biggest issue with it, and that’s why I want to speak to it.

So in the next segment, I’m going to talk about why I think this happens.


HENNY: So why is it that skinfolk ain’t always kinfolk? Well, I think that there’s a lot of reasons for this. I think that I could probably – well, I am, I guess, taking a whole podcast to talk about this. But I think that the Why, by talking about the Why – I could teach three-hour lectures on this. Because it is such a complex issue. There are so many layers to this that I’m not going to be able to unpack all of those layers. I’m not going to be able to uncover all those layers in this podcast. But trust me that they exist. You know they exist. Maybe, hopefully, you’ll be able to see more why they exist and how they exist, so that you’ll be able to help people in your community.

But anyway. So why ain’t skinfolk always kinfolk? That is so complex, like I said. I think that one of the biggest reasons is white adjacency. I think – I don’t want to sit here and talk about whiteness, but I guess that this is a time whenever we have to talk about whiteness. So white supremacy, white normativity, and white adjacency. These three things. So white supremacy, basically like everybody being like, “Well, whiteness is superior.” That’s our cultural mantra, is that whiteness is superior. Now, we don’t say it that way, but that’s what it is: white is right. That’s what white supremacy is. So then white normativity is like, “Well, whiteness is normal.” It’s what’s normal. So if you’re not doing the thing that it says you should be doing, that white supremacy says you should be doing – then you’re not normal, and there’s something wrong with you. And so then white adjacency – being just near white people, and in contexts where you are surrounded by white people without a strong Black cultural influence. Those three things, I think, go hand in hand to produce Black people who are skinfolk, but aren’t kinfolk.

And I think that – in order to say what I’m saying, let me say what I’m not saying. I’m not trying to rate people’s Blackness and say, well, if you are in this context with this critical-mass level of Blackness, that somehow you are Blacker, or thereby better, than somebody who is in a context where there are no Black people. It’s not a value statement that I’m trying to make here. I’m not trying to do any kind of Oppression Olympics, or any type of Blackness where “This person’s Blacker than that person.” None of that’s helpful. I’m not trying to be on that. But what I’m saying, in bringing whiteness into the picture, is that I think that something that we need to get a grip on, is that whiteness is this specter that looms over us, that looms over our communities. And I think that for the most part we are able to live under that specter, a little bit. Or, I don’t want to say that we live under the specter. But I think that for the most part, we are able to push that specter away, and we’re able to claim our Blackness, we’re able to live into our Blackness. I think that for the most part, we’re able to do that. But for all of us, we wrestle with internalized white supremacy. We wrestle with internalized racism. I don’t know how we couldn’t, whenever we live in a country that is founded on that very thing. It’s founded on white supremacy. It’s based in white normativity. It’s based in this toxic whiteness. And so I don’t know how we could exist in this country as a people for four centuries, and not come out from that unscathed. Like, it’s just impossible. And so we have been influenced by whiteness, and we’ve been influenced by white supremacy. 

And because of that influence of white supremacy, we have to do the work of recognizing that in ourselves and recognizing that in our community, and rooting the white supremacy out of ourselves. But whenever people are extremely white-adjacent, they don’t have that pressure to remove the white supremacy from themselves. Whenever they’re extremely white-adjacent – and what I mean by that, even – because I’m a person; I said it in my original episode, my first episode, my Secret Origins – I talked about how I came up in a rural context, but I came up in a rural context that was full of white people, 90-odd percent, plus-odd percent white people. But I came up in a home where Blackness was celebrated, where being Black was celebrated, where we celebrated our culture, where my mom did well, was intentional in teaching me about our culture, and intentional in helping me to understand racism, and helping me to understand how racism works. And so I was, even in a context that was predominantly white, I still had a sense of myself, and still had some language to be able to put to my experience, and to be able to name my experience, and to be able to understand, OK, I don’t have to be like the people who I see in authority. I don’t have to be like them culturally. I have a different culture. I have a different heritage. And my heritage is just as important – it’s just as valid – as their culture and as their heritage. 

And so whenever people don’t have those mediating voice; whenever people don’t have those voices that are telling them that Blackness is good, and teaching them about Black culture and teaching them about Black history, whatever – you’re adjacent to whiteness, and what you’re hearing is white supremacy and white normativity – it becomes a thing that, in the absence of a strong Black identity, white supremacy starts to take over. White normativity starts to take over.

And so it’s not even about how many Black people or how many white people that you’re even around, I don’t think. I think that there are Black people who have intentionally distanced themselves from Blackness because they have bought the lie of white supremacy. They have been sold a bill of goods about white supremacy and about our culture; so they distance themselves from our culture, because it gives them success. It gives them the perception of success. It gives them social mobility. It gives them all these different things. So there are people that distance themselves from the Black community, that distance themselves from the Black experience. And so then as they distance themselves from that, then they start to accept white culture. They start to accept white normativity and white supremacy, because they start to accept the premise that white is right.

And I think that we see this, that this happens – even how this happens – going into the how, not just the why but going into the how it happens – I think even the How of it is important, because there are people that have done this intentionally. There are Black people who become celebrities – it doesn’t even have to be becoming a celebrity. It could be becoming affluent in any type of way, or they perceive themselves to be affluent in any type of way; and they see, “Well, I’m successful because of who I am, and so I’m going to try to be more like the people who are successful.” And it becomes this whole thing, where they separate themselves then – because they start to associate Blackness with poverty. They start to associate Blackness with a lack of education. They start to associate Blackness with all these negative things, and they start to associate whiteness with rightness. And so they pull themselves away.

And then sometimes people who experience this, people who are the ones who are upholding white supremacy, they might be the children of some of those people who intentionally left Black culture, who intentionally left the Black community. They might be the children of that. Or they might be in a cadre – they might be somebody that, it might even be based on location, might be based on where they live. If they’re around a bunch of people who have made this decision to distance themselves from Blackness – you grow up in that situation, or you move to the suburbs, you move even to like the Black suburbs – and there’s respectability politics, and there’s all these different things that sort of play in where there’s a vying for whiteness. 

And it might not be articulated that way, but that is what is happening. Because in the absence of a strong Black identity, white supremacy is allowed to take hold. I’ll even go as far as to say that white supremacy, that whiteness, exists because there’s a lack of cultural identity among white people – but that is a whole different – that isn’t even like a different episode of a podcast. That’s like a whole different podcast with a whole different topic, with a whole different whatever, to unpack that. I’m not going to unpack that here. I’m just saying that one of the reasons why I think that exists. 

And I think that it also exists, not just because of a person necessarily being steeped in whiteness and not knowing; but, like I said, I think that something we have to acknowledge is that there are people who have quote-unquote “left” the Black culture, who have “left” the Black community; who have tried to make a name for themselves. And this doesn’t have to – I’m not talking at a celebrity level. I’m talking at a, like, regular person level, a regular non-celebrity person level. There are people who have left our community on purpose, who leave our community on purpose, because they don’t want to be associated with Blackness. So then, in order to curry favor with the people who are in their context, they have to actively reject their Blackness; they have to actively reject anything associated with their Blackness, in order to maintain success, in order to maintain credibility in their circles.

But then there are also people who are just, it’s sort of a passive thing. Maybe a person, they grew up in a context where there weren’t many Black people, and maybe their parents fall into that earlier category that I talked about; and so they just don’t have a strong sense of Black identity. They just don’t have a strong sense of Black community. Maybe they have Black community even around them, but respectability politics, classism, a whole bunch of other things can kind of come into play there, that removes people from Blackness. 

And so that’s why I say that white supremacy, that white normativity, and that white adjacency, I think, are the Whys to this; that underscores some of the Why that this a thing, is because people have internalized racism. They have internalized white supremacy. They believe the hype. They believe the narrative. They believe all the negative things. And so because they believe all the negative things, it benefits them. The circles that they run in, the places that they work, the places that they worship, the people who they are friends with; it benefits them. And it doesn’t have to be monetarily. It can benefit them psychologically. Because think about that. Think about: you’re around whiteness. You’re surrounded by whiteness. And as soon as you start to say something about racism, or as soon as you start saying, “Well, maybe this might be a thing,” you have everybody telling you that it’s not. And if you have been gaslit like your whole life, to believe that white is right, and to need white approval; and to see Black people as somehow being wrong, being inferior, whatever – and this is stuff, y’all know, it ain’t like people just saying this out loud. But it’s what it is! It’s what’s happening! If you’ve been schooled your whole entire life to believe a certain way, and to cow whenever white people speak up, whenever white people start to say. Because I can speak from my own experience, where even though I grew up in a Black home and with a strong sense of Black identity, being in places and spaces where white normativity was a thing; as soon as I started to speak out about racism and certain people started to say things to me, it was like, I felt a sense of like having cold water poured on you, and you breathe in, and you’re like, “Oh my goodness, like, these white people are upset.” And for me, for my context, where you’re outnumbered, like, you are just outnumbered. So if white fragility starts popping off – if people start getting upset, if people start whatever – you are outnumbered. And it can be a scary thing whenever you’re outnumbered and people start to get upset and people start to get at you. 

And something I had to realize is, from being a young person, where I realized that I was just socialized to just care for white people’s feelings. Because oh my goodness, white people, like if they get upset, and they’re upset about this, then they’re going to think something, and then this could mean something bad to me. And so I felt like I was socialized, in a lot of ways, to start attending to white people’s feelings, and to start – automatically, when a white person gets upset, oh my goodness, I’ve got to start attending to their feelings. I’ve got to start making them feel better about themselves. And it took me some time to realize, hold on a second, that’s what I’m doing. And so I had to break myself from that. Even though I was still, like, speaking my truth, I had to break myself from being like, “Let me attend to white people’s feelings.” Because it’s not about white people’s feelings. But white normativity: it’s so insidious that it will make Black people think that white people’s feelings, that white people’s perceptions, that their thoughts of you, is more important than Black dignity. 

And that’s just not the case. That’s just not the truth. And even if you know it – even if you know it, deep down in yourself – it’s just a social conditioning, sometimes, that you have to break. For me, it was more breaking social conditioning than it was having to change my beliefs. But there are Black people out there, that that is their belief system. Now, they wouldn’t be able to name it for you that way, but that is what they believe. That is how they see. They elevate white feelings, they elevate white opinion, because they see Black opinion, they see Black experience, as somehow being inferior, or that somehow it’s complaining, that somehow it’s ungrateful. It’s sort of like, you know, “But they letting us live out here. They giving us food and drink. So it can’t be that bad.” So it’s that sort of oppressed mentality that I think gives the basis, it gives the foundation, for Black people to enact white supremacy. 

Because they’re believing a whole bunch of lies about themselves, they’re believing a whole bunch of lies about Black culture, about Blackness; and so where they’re believing those lies, they think that whiteness is the truth. And so they want to uphold the truth of whiteness because in some cases they don’t know any better, because that’s all they’ve known, because that’s all they’ve been taught. And in some cases they know better – like, they’ve had a different experience of white people. They’ve had a different life, a different set of experiences that would tell them something. But it’s the power, I think that it’s the power, that it’s the credibility, that sometimes for some people it’s the money; it’s the accolades; it’s the comfort that comes with ignoring the Black experience and being accepted into whiteness, that’s the motivator. 

So I think that that’s the reason Why all skinfolk ain’t kinfolk. But in the next segment, I want to talk about what we can do about it. 


HENNY: So I want to take some time to talk about what we need to do about skinfolk who ain’t kinfolk. Because, for real, we need to collect our people. Now, I admit – and I said this earlier in the podcast – that by talking about this issue, I feel like it gives it way more credence than it deserves. Yet, at the same time, I’m concerned that if we don’t name this thing, and that if we don’t name it, and don’t call it out, and don’t have some ideas about what we need to do about it; that we could potentially put ourselves in a position where we are dealing with a much bigger problem later down the line. So for me, this is more of a “Let’s nip this in the bud” type of issue. And so I think there are some things that we can do to pre-empt these folks, and to pre-empt this issue in our community. And I also want to offer a few things I think that we can do about this without the people who already exist.

So I think that the biggest thing that we need to do is, we need to teach our people. Just because you’re Black doesn’t mean that you know about race. Now, I think that being Black and having the Black experience, that it definitely puts us ahead. And I say “ahead” – I mean, what are we ahead of? [Laughs] Like, oppression? What? But I think that in being able to have these race discussions, I think that our lived experience – our communal experience, our collective experience, as it were – I think that it does give us a leg up in being able to have these conversations. But our experience alone isn’t enough to be able to be articulate on this issue. It’s not enough to be able to speak truth to power, just saying, “Well, I’ve had this experience.” Our experiences are so important. But what I mean is that if we’re not going to – if we don’t have a racial lexicon; if we don’t have the ability to be able to pull out concepts, and to be able to talk about it – and you don’t have to talk about it at the level that I talk about it. I don’t even really talk about it at any kind of level, I don’t think. But I don’t think that you have to be, like, an encyclopedia. You don’t have to be somebody who’s like, “Well, I can speak about all these different books, and pull in this person, and Cohn said this, and James Baldwin said that, and Cornell West said this” – you don’t have to be an academic about it. But just being able to talk about the issue. 

So I think that we have to teach our people. I think that we have to make our churches, we have to make our community spaces, a place for people to be able to teach on this issue, snf to learn on this issue, and to exchange ideas and to listen to one another’s experiences, and to help ourselves to be able to develop language and to be able to communicate about these issues, even in some of the same ways, I think that that’s helpful. I’m always a big proponent of having language that is similar, and if everybody’s using similar language to describe something, I think that that often will help people to understand concepts, if we are all using similar language. 

But that’s a whole different thing. I think that just being in a place where we’re able to impart knowledge to our people. And that even starts in the home. It starts in a Black home. People who have Black children: you need to be speaking to your culture. You need to be imparting your culture to your kids. I think that that’s so important. We can’t just run away from Blackness.

And we don’t have to be weird about it. Like, sometimes I think that people can get super performative about Blackness, and it’s like, “Ooh, this has to be Black, and this is super Black,” and whatever. And I understand why we do that sometimes. But I don’t think we have to make Black culture this monolith, and “You’re not Black if you don’t,” or “Well, this is Blacker than this.” I don’t think that we have to do that, necessarily. I just think that we need to teach our children about our history, about our struggle, about our things – about the things that are ours. And the things that maybe other people share in, or appropriate; and share about why those are our things, and where they came from. I think that that goes such a long way.

I think that also, not only do we have to teach our people; we have to collect our people. Now, this one gets a little bit tricky. I think that collecting people does get a little bit dicey. Because I’m a big proponent of Black people being united; us being united – even though we’re not monolithic, I think that it’s so important that we’re united. And there are some conversations that I just don’t think that we need to, like, have in public. Like where Black people are like, where “Well, you know,” like, where you’re doing the opposite of the people who are cutting up, or you’re like, “Here, let me collect you in public, in front of all these white people.” I don’t think that we have to do that. I think that sometimes a Black person might be acting up, and you might need to pull somebody aside, like, “Hey, we’re not doing that right now.” I think that we need to have those conversations where, like, going into a situation – like, I’ve been in situations, for instance, where there have been other Black people, but we’re still a minority. And we might disagree behind the scenes about something. But whenever we go into public, into the white public, we present a united front. 

And so, like, there’s been times whenever there might be an issue that is more important to my friend than it is to me. But I might still disagree with them on that. But I’m gonna be, well, I’mma be here singing backup. And even be singing backup, but I don’t really agree with all this, but I’m here singing backup. And so I think that it’s so important that we have to sing backup for one another; that even if we don’t necessarily agree with everything that somebody has to say, or agree with everything that somebody stands for; just being able to present Blackness as itself. Because I think as we present Blackness as itself, we can present all the contours and stuff too. So I think there are times we have to say to one of our people, whenever somebody kind of starts to jump out a little bit, where we kind of say, “Hey, pull it in a little bit. We can’t confuse the white people.” We can’t have the white people confused, because it’s going to have more implications than that. And I could go into that more, but I don’t have the time to. 

So I think that collecting our people is important. It’s important for us – and whenever I say “presenting a united front,” I don’t mean, like, we’re out here being false. There’s not falsehood in that. But for me, collecting our people means doing what is the best for the common good. 

And that actually brings me to the next thing that I think we need to do, which is to recognize what is going to benefit Black people as a whole. I think something that has gotten into our culture is that we have started to adopt a little bit of that white individualism, a little bit. And I think that really that’s, even what that contrarianism yis that ou see among some of these people who do the work of white supremacy, is that they want to be their own, little, unique, special snowflake, and so they can corner the market on being the unique Black person in their little white context. And so they want to do that, because it’s beneficial for them in some way. So I think that we’re starting to kind of get away from this a little bit, as a culture, where we have a – it’s not that we’re monolithic – but having a collective identity and having a collective consciousness. And so I think that we need to have that, and that we need to protect that. 

So kind of bringing people in: it’s not presenting Blackness as a monolith, and it’s not presenting a falsehood of Blackness, but it is helping us to maintain our collective identity. Because that is how we succeed, is through a collective identity. It’s not us individuals out here, trying to grab for ourselves and trying to do for ourselves. Because that’s just not how Black people work. That’s not how Blackness works. It’s not very often that I say that, but that is not how Blackness works. Whenever one person wins, we all win. Whenever one person succeeds, we all succeed. Also, whenever one person does something wrong, it messes stuff up for the rest of us too. So I think we have to lean into our collective identity.

So teaching our people; leaning into our collective identity; and in leaning into that collective identity, collecting our people whenever they come off base: those are some of the basic ways that I think that we can help this problem in our culture. And I think that in terms of interacting with some of those people – some of them celebrities, some of them pseudo-celebrities, some of them wannabes; some of those people in our circles that are already out here, they’ve already drunk the whiteness Kool-Aid, they don’t care – I don’t think that we sit and we debate with them. That might sound counter to everything else that I’ve said in like these last 30 minutes, but I don’t think we sit. We don’t have to have these massive, major debates with these people who disagree with us. And we don’t have to say, “Well, that person doesn’t represent us.” I don’t think we have to do that. I think that basically it’s like, just ignore them, and leave them to whiteness. Leave them to bask and to baste and to bake, marinate – whatever it is that they doing in whiteness – let’s just leave them to that. And whenever people come, “Well, what about this?” [scoffs] Pull the Mariah Carey: “I Don’t Know Her!” That’s what I think we need to do, whenever skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.

So I’m not saying that my thoughts are the best thoughts on this. I’m not even saying that they’re the most well-formed thoughts. But that’s what I have. So, I’m sharing it!


“Combing the Roots” is powered by The Witness – A Black Christian Collective. Special thanks to executive producers Tyler Burn and Beau York. Catch up with what I’m doing on these internet streets by visiting allyhenny.com. There you’ll be able to connect to my Twitter feed, my Instagram, and my Facebook writer’s page. I’m your host, Ally Henny. Peace.


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