“ Black males in our society are held up to a certain standard that is somewhat unattainable given that it is based on white male characteristics and paradigms.
In “Speaking in Tongues,” her stunning essay on Barack Obama and black identity, Zadie Smith remembers how convinced she was when a student at Cambridge by the concept of a unified black voice.
Then the idea faded somehow into the injunction to “keep it real,” an instruction she found like being in a prison cell: It made Blackness a quality each individual black person was constantly in danger of losing.
In England, she had thought more about class than race.
In the US, she discovered that someone else can rush in and define you when you least expect it, making your being black part of an idea of blackness far outside yourself.