By Tanya Barnett • 


How do I reconcile my blackness in the 21st century? Do I yell at the mountain tops that I am BLACK or do I act like my blackness doesn’t matter so I don’t offend white people?

How do I reconcile my blackness in the 21st century? Do I check my coworker when they use microaggressions towards me or do I silently play it off like I didn’t notice?

How do I reconcile my blackness in the 21st century? Do I politely tell my Big Momma that I am not pinching my baby’s nose so it won’t be flat and broad or do I whisper in his ear how beautiful he is?

How do I reconcile my blackness in the 21st century? Do I warn my Black son to keep his hands off a white girl so he is not blamed of rape or do I tell him he can love anybody he wants without fear of retaliation?

How do I reconcile my blackness in the 21st century? Do I tell my aunties that all hair is good hair or do I ignore them when they make comments about my baby’s nappy hair?

How do I reconcile my blackness in the 21st century? Do I tell my daughter to let them know she doesn’t want their catcalls when she walks by or do I hope she taps into her moxy and knows to walk in the other direction when she sees them coming.

How do I reconcile my blackness in the 21st century? Do I use skin bleaching cream to make me light-skinned, so men will look at me or do I brighten up my filter when I post my pictures to the ‘gram?

How do I reconcile my blackness in the 21st century? Do I tell my husband to be careful every time he gets in the car or do I hold my breath and say a little prayer for him to return back to his family without being detained or killed by the police?

How do I reconcile my blackness in the 21st century? Do I ask my “white” friend what she means by, “you don’t talk like a Black girl”, or do I code-switch to make her more comfortable with the way I talk?

How do I reconcile my blackness in the 21st century? Do I allow the white woman to touch my grandson’s hair when they comment about how curly it is or do I pretend like I didn’t hear her and keep on walking?

Hell no! I will not compromise my blackness to make others comfortable. I will confront them and make them face their own biases whether they are offended or not. White? Black? It don’t matter. What matters is that I live authentically and command respect from those around me.


Tanya Barnett is a veteran and advocate, anti-racist, womanist, author, an adjunct professor, and a 2018 N.A.A.C.P. Hall of Famer. She has been featured on OWNTV, Essence Magazine, Huffington Post, The Today Show, Tom Joyner Morning Show, TEDx, Johns Hopkins University, NAACP, Congressional Black Caucus, FBI, EPA, Good Morning Washington, Great Day Washington, etc. She’s a 2x triathlete and 2x marathoner, historical fiction lover, wife, mom and an energetic Glam-ma.

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