by Anthony Douglass
Black Enuf is an animated documentary by Carrie Hawks that details the struggles of accepting one’s identity. Hawks is a mixed-race, gender non-conforming artist who has struggled with not “being Black enough,” while also seeking acceptance for their queer identity. Through animations and family interviews, Hawks details how it feels to grow up in a society where one feels as if they have to prove certain aspects of themselves to be deemed valid.
This film speaks to the diversity of Blackness. I am a cis-gendered bisexual male, and I cannot presume to fully understand Hawks’ story–for it is their own. However, trying to understand where I fit in a world where Blackness is devalued and queerness is just now gaining acceptance, this film directly speaks to the issues I face. Being called an “Oreo” (Black on the outside, white on the inside) during middle and high school because of my intelligence and demeanor was insulting. “Blackness” was often something to be left at home in the all-white suburbs where I grew up–in fear that bad things could happen otherwise.
My Blackness had to be monitored, but that often made me feel as if I was either “too Black” when I was with my non-Black peers, or not “Black enough” when around other Black peers. To make matters more complicated, queerness is already seen as an illness by many in the Black community. In my experience, queerness meant going against the Christian teachings of my youth and the societal traits of masculinity in which I had been raised. My father once said that his greatest fear was that I become gay. Finding acceptance in my Blackness and my queerness was a journey. As Hawks noted, the desire to just “blend” was, and at times still is, omnipresent in daily interactions.
The film ends with Hawks declaring that their Blackness was enough, that they did belong, and that the pronouncements of others did not make them any more or less Black or queer. Their family accepts Hawks for who they are and loves them as Hawks loves themselves. I too have seen growth in my own family. Today, my father calls me just to see if my boyfriend is doing well, not because he feels he has to, but because he has learned and grown.
There is no one way to be Black, no one way to get the “Black Card” that Hawks shows in the film. Blackness is without bounds and limitations, intersecting with various other identities to create a culture and space where all can be who they are without fear–where one can be Black and queer and feel the love that one deserves.
Anthony Douglas is a senior Plan II and Government major from Dallas, Texas. His studies focus on economic inequality and the disparate impact it has on communities of color. When not studying, Anthony enjoys hiking, running, and playing with his mischievous cat Freya. Filled with a passion for travel and nature, Anthony enjoys road trips and camping. He enjoys anything related to technology policy, and he can often be found up late at night reading on the latest tech news. He also loves coffee, and giving him a cup can create an immediate friendship.