I get this question from time to time. Why do you call yourself ‘postmodernegro’? I know some feel that the term ‘postmodern’ is passe or that it has no relevance nor is it helpful.
It’s simple really. I am actually playing with words. Postmodern speaks to the current cultural mood that we are in. One of transition. That we are going from something to something. Postmodernity, as a black man, speaks to me on a number of levels. One of those levels is the notion that postmodernity recognizes the transitory nature of identity. That we can change or be transformed into something else. Postmodernity’s mood of transitory identity counters and subverts modernity’s “fix-ness” of identity. For instance, David Hume’s (one of the stars of modernity) conception of negro-hood’s infantile-ness is not written in the stars. Hence the term ‘negro’. Negro is a term that comes straight out of modernity. Negro is a term that comes from some of the bad habits of modernity (e.g. whiteness as normative and beauty vs. blackness as deviance and ugliness). Of course black folks took the term and re-fashioned it (think: Alain Lock’s essay The New Negro). So in many ways being a negro is a form of subversive re-naming. To be a postmodern negro is essentially raising my middle finger to the essentialism of modernity and its characterizing of black folks as beasts, deviants, a problem, etc.. It is recognizing that the ‘fixed’ identities forced upon black folks is the Lie. In my own way naming myself a postmodern negro is my way of saying that only God can judge me…that only God can name me.