Black experience beyond Black pain

Francisco Roman, Contributing Writer

Mylie Bluhm

The Black American experience is one of the most complicated dichotomies in present day history. Repeatedly, Black individuals are met with the constant reminder that the country we reside in not only refuses to acknowledge us as worthy of humane treatment but also continually misunderstands and invalidates the anger that results from that treatment. 

The U.S. has created an environment where pain is inherent to Black experiences due to the conditions that Blackness was born into, and continues to function within, to this day. 

The country constantly tells Black Americans to move on from events of the past and forget slavery because it happened so long ago, but what is also overlooked is how we still face the consequences of America’s sins. The very term and concept of what we have come to know as being Black was created as a means to separate Central and West Africans from colonizers. 

Dating back to the year 1619, when the first slave ships departed from the western coast of Africa, Blackness has been a term bestowed upon the unequal. Prior to any interaction with European society, Black individuality had yet to come into fruition. It was only after their encounter with colonizers, when Central and West Africans were stripped of their identity and tribal background, that Blackness was born; there was no longer a reason to distinguish one tribal member from another. 

From that moment on, the only focus was to distinguish the “sophisticated” and “powerful” white from perceived “primitive” Black society. Unlike every other culture and ethnicity in the world, Blackness knows no distinct identity as it was not fostered out of choice but was beaten and branded into us through bondage. It is this condition that makes it impossible for Black America to “move on” from the past, especially when our past shapes our future.  

In our country today, regardless of claims of equality from uninvolved politicians, Black Americans still fight many of the same evils that we have been fighting for the last 400 years. We deal with new limitations that are the effects of U.S. policy that has crippled Black American progress for generations. Some issues are centuries old, and day by day new ones emerge. It is as if the candle is being burned at both ends. 

Black individuals live with perpetual gratuitous structural violence that makes it immensely harder for us to navigate already difficult spaces and scenarios, such as making it to college or even entering the workforce. The way Black people in this country have been forced to take preventive measures in the fight for racial equity is as much of a learned behavior as it is a survival measure. 

The pain present within the Black experience is not the only part of our culture, but it is what we take and do with the experiences learned from that pain that keeps us and our culture alive.  

Despite bearing roots planted within subjugation, Black America has been able to cultivate one of the most beautiful cultures in the world, which in turn is responsible for some of the most important aspects in what is viewed as uniquely “American.” 

While Black Americans have made countless contributions to American culture and society, we have also been stripped of the very aspects of society our people have had a hand in creating.

Our creations, cultivated through experiences unique to being Black, are co-opted and appropriated by those who have no understanding of the rich history present within them. The Black experience is more than tropes of pain and inequality, but the environment we live in constantly puts us in the position to fight for our rights and for the survival of our culture.  

Black people are seen as a wrench in the works, and in conjunction with being exploited and excluded from every aspect of humane society, Black individuals face institutionalized violence in the form of police militarization and brutality. We face redlining, gentrification and racism in the workplace. We face discrimination in education.

 The existence of Blackness has inherent ties to these aspects of an inhumane existence and does not permit racial prosperity in a world that holds the concept of slavery synonymous with the concept of a Black experience. Despite this, Black Americans continue to show resistance in the face of challenge, but the struggle continues. 

But, as Maya Angelou said, “…and still I rise.” 

Leave a Comment