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Black Resource Guide

Resource guide celebrating Black history and the cultural, political, and creative contributions of Black Americans.

Introduction & Definitions

Being Black goes far beyond the color of one's skin (phenotype). It is a personal, cultural, and political identity. The term Black carries a long history of western colonization and is different across societies and cultures. Who is classified as Black can vary based on geographical placement in the world.

At its broadest definition, Blackness is a racialized classification of people, usually as a political and skin color-based category, for specific populations with a mid to dark brown complexion. In certain countries, often in socially based systems of racial classification in the Western world, Black is mainly used for people of Sub-Saharan African descent. Generally, Indigenous African societies do not use the term Black as a racial identity outside of influences brought by Western cultures.¹  

Although its original usage was a pejorative, the term “Black” has been reclaimed by the community as early as the 1900s as in W.E.B. DuBois’s classic, the Souls of Black Folks. The term became more popularized in the 1960s during the Civil Rights era. Activist Kwame Ture (born Stokley Carmichael) popularized the phrase “Black Power” at a 1966 rally in Mississippi. Since then, through politicians and activists, “Black” became a word empowering the community showcasing the international solidarity of Black people across the world.

The Black diaspora is global, from the Americas to the Caribbean, Asia, Europe, and beyond. While the following guide expands on the concepts presented in this introduction, it is not meant to encapsulate all experiences of Black people. Use this guide as a starting point to learn about the history and diversity of the Black community, and for resources supporting Black people.

1: Definition adapted and abbreviated from 2020. Black | Keywords For American Cultural Studies, Second Edition.

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