Black and White

 

 

image by Luke Chueh

black adj \ˈblak\
Definition of BLACK

1 a : of the color black
b (1) : very dark in color (2) : having a very deep or low register a bass with a black voice (3) : heavy, serious the play was a black intrigue

2 a : having dark skin, hair, and eyes : swarthy the black Irish
b (1) often capitalized : of or relating to any of various population groups having dark pigmentation of the skin black Americans (2) : of or relating to the African-American people or their culture black literature a black college black pride black studies (3) : typical or representative of the most readily perceived characteristics of black culture trying to sound black tried to play blacker jazz

3: dressed in black

4: dirty, soiled hands black with grime

5 a : characterized by the absence of light a black night
b : reflecting or transmitting little or no light black water
c : served without milk or cream black coffee

6 a : thoroughly sinister or evil : wicked a black deed
b : indicative of condemnation or discredit got a black mark for being late

7: connected with or invoking the supernatural and especially the devil black magic

8 a : very sad, gloomy, or calamitous black despair
b : marked by the occurrence of disaster black Friday

9 : characterized by hostility or angry discontent : sullen

10 chiefly British : subject to boycott by trade-union members as employing or favoring nonunion workers or as operating under conditions considered unfair by the trade union

11 a of propaganda : conducted so as to appear to originate within an enemy country and designed to weaken enemy morale
b : characterized by or connected with the use of black propaganda black radio

12 : characterized by grim, distorted, or grotesque satire black humor

13 : of or relating to covert intelligence operations black government programs
— black·ish adjective
— black·ly adverb
— black·ness noun

Synonyms: ebony, pitch-black, pitch-dark, pitchy, raven, sable
Antonyms: white

white adj \ˈhwīt, ˈwīt\
whit·erwhit·est
Definition of WHITE

1 a : free from color
b : of the color of new snow or milk; specifically : of the color white
c : light or pallid in color white hair lips white with fear
d : lustrous pale gray : silvery; also : made of silver

2 a : being a member of a group or race characterized by light pigmentation of the skin
b : of, relating to, characteristic of, or consisting of white people or their culture
c [from the former stereotypical association of good character with northern European descent] : marked by upright fairness that’s mighty white of you

3: free from spot or blemish: as
a (1) : free from moral impurity : innocent (2) : marked by the wearing of white by the woman as a symbol of purity a white wedding
b : unmarked by writing or printing
c : not intended to cause harm a white lie white magic
d : favorable, fortunate one of the white days of his life — Sir Walter Scott

4 a : wearing or habited in white
b : marked by the presence of snow : snowy a white Christmas

5a : heated to the point of whiteness
b : notably ardent : passionate white fury

6 a : conservative or reactionary in political outlook and action
b : instigated or carried out by reactionary forces as a counterrevolutionary measure a white terror

7 : of, relating to, or constituting a musical tone quality characterized by a controlled pure sound, a lack of warmth and color, and a lack of resonance

8 : consisting of a wide range of frequencies —used of light, sound, and electromagnetic radiation
— whit·ish adjective

One day my bi-racial niece came home after visiting the other side of her family. They told her she wasn’t black, but Black AND White. My mom took out a panda bear and said, “No, this is Black and White.” This was one of many long standing conversations we’ve had in our family about mixed, multi-cultural, and Black identities. It is challenging sometimes because many of us still hold onto the one drop rule, while our multi-ethnic family members may not identify as Black, but mixed. My mother raised me with a strong Black identity while at the same time encouraging me to embrace our Caribbean, European, and Native American roots. But some members of my family don’t feel comfortable with the subject of race. They don’t want to be asked, “What are you?” They dodge the question. Unlike my racially ambiguous family members, most people assume I’m Black.Throughout my life I’ve had a range of racialized experiences from experiencing anti-black racism to being accepted by certain groups because I wasn’t too black. Sometimes people probe my background. Sometimes my ethnicity was a subject of debate. Maybe I was from “exotic” land or I had one non-Black parent. Recently some students asked me whether I am mixed or not. And I dodge the question, not wanting to reify some assumptions about Black features. I respond, “No I’m not mixed. But Black American is a multi-ethnic category, most of us are at least 20% white.” As Black Americans are becoming increasingly mixed, I wonder what label will work. We’ve gone from Negro, Colored, Afro-American, Black and African American. But what happens when those labels don’t apply, but the historical legacy still remains? Maybe one day, we’ll find a name that sticks, one without negative connotations.