meaning of black, what is black, what does black mean, definition of black
A woman and her child from the Nuba Mountains in Sudan.

In the beginning, there was Black.

Black is the origin. Of all people.

Black is a present people. A future people.

A historic people.


The Black Land.

Black is fertile like soil.

Black is nurturing. Black is loved and is love.

The Black Body is the best absorber and emitter, in physics.

Black is mysterious. Dark matter.

Black is feared.

The Black widow. The Black mamba.

Black is protection.

Your tinted windows or dark curtains.

Black promises obscurity.

Black is impenetrable.

Pitch Black.

Black is strong — no milk or cream in my coffee.

Just black.

Black Pride.

Black Power.

Black Lives Matter.

Black is resilient, even in times of difficulty.

Black humor. Black comedy.

Black is a genre. A literature. A culture.

Black is potent like Black tea.

Black is powerful.

Nothing escapes a Black Hole.

Black is magnetic.

You can’t look away from the black body.

That black booty. Damn.

Black is beautiful.

The beautiful game. The Black Stars.

Black is popular.

Black is fashionable, elegant.

A sleek town car. That sexy black dress.

Black goes with everything.

Every thing wants to be the new black.

Black is desired and admired and imitated.

You trynna sound Black? You wanna Act Black?

Black is an Achievement.

The highest honor in karate—the Black Belt.

On the ski slopes, Black bears the utmost complexity.

Black is superlative.

The darkest color.

The Supreme Being—the Black God in religion.

Black feeds the soul.

Black is healthy and rich and nutritious and wholesome—

as in wheat bread, wheat flour, brown sugar.

The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice.

Black is refreshing and calm and comforting, as night.

The blanket for your slumber.

Or time to reflect if you’re still awake.

Black lives and ages with grace.

Black don’t crack.

Black is permanent.

Once you go black, you don’t go back.

Black history.

Black is the end. Fade to Black.

Stay Black.

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Nefetiti is the Chief Editor at Grandmother Africa. She holds two Bachelor degrees, a double major in Chemistry and Physics. Since 1997, Nefetiti has authored several reports on Democracy and the state of Republics in the African Union. She became an African Reporting Fellow in 2007. Before joining the Definitive African Record, Nefetiti trained as a Digital Media expert. If you enjoyed this essay and would like to support more content like this one, please buy me a cup of coffee in support of my next essay, or you can go bold, very bold and delight me. Here's my CashApp: $AMARANEFETITI


  1. Nefetiti explores the rich and complex meanings of Black and Blackness in an attempt to deracinate the complete subreption that is the contorted “black” newly introduced through colonialism. When the ancients in Kemet chose to call themselves Black, or when they chose to signify their civilization, “The Black Land”, they knew exactly what they were doing.

    When our ancients even before Kemet, before Nubia and before Punt decided to capture the essence of the Supreme Being, the Creator, within the bosom of the Black Man, the Black Bull, they new it will revolutionize how humanity conceived God and Existence.
    Well, it has. And Nefetiti herself (the one who needs no introduction) has seized the opportunity to introduce our readers to this fine and complex term Black. It predates everything. It predates even the Universe, and gave rise to it. Yet it is set to Engulf it.

  2. A mellifluous essay. These are exciting times we live in. Unearthing the real significations of Black and Blackness are important if we are going to look in the mirror and not run away; if we are going to look at our reflections and not get scared, get angry and even hate what we see.

    Black has been so “contorted” that it needs this much needed revitalization to soothe the pain that has been caused from its haters, from its detractors, and to shoo away the malignant tumor that is colorlessness. I think my friend Johnson Tunu will find this rather appropriate in our imaginations of Blackness.

  3. A fine articulation. I like the part that stresses that “Black is an Achievement.” It is a salient point. That understanding is found at the basis of all ritual where Black is used. You take for instance the incarnation of God in a Black Man or a Black Bull – that’s an achievement. You take for example a martial arts achievement, the highest honor – Black.

    So back to Black is an Achievement! It really is. Being African does not make you attain this achievement de facto. In fact Kemet signified itself as The Black Land simply because they perceived themselves as having reached Blackness (the pinnacle of civilization). They also signified who they were by simultaneously differentiating themselves from others – calling themselves Black People. In Black people they simply accentuate the calling to Godliness! They simply also accentuate the fact that becoming Human meant achieving Blackness – the paragon of creation.

  4. Actually, I don’t think much of blackness, in the racial plan. I’m very Darwinian, in the sense that we’re all just humans on the planet, and whilst it is perfectly fine to love oneself and one’s achievements, the attitude of the Hitlerites and their ilk to disdain and even persecute humans who look externally different from them seems worthy only of dogs,the other species as widespread territorially and in variety as us, the naked ape. Much as we’d want the race phobes to change their ways, it seems the minuscule divergences in their genes make it harder for them to subscribe to elementary cultural norms. So, they ought to be forced to comply with laws.

  5. Johnson, you say you don’ think much of blackness but I remember you quoting, “To blackball sb., blacklist, black beast, black book, black death, black eye, black hand, blackmail, black man (=an evil spirit), black-market, black out, black robe, black sheep are just a baker’s dozen of negative much bigger list of expressions about humans and their deeds in English.” Why would the negative deed be Black in English. One point, it is a doctrine! It’s a doctrine of white supremacist thinking. The dictionary itself, because it is English, is racist!

    Johnson Tunu, do you think about blackness or not? You seem to know all those expressions in English (of course, the English are racists), which tells me that you think of it, or that you don’t realize that you do?

  6. We Darwinians don’t care a hoot about skin colour, but strongly insist that all in society, including the Hitlerites and their ilk, should be compelled to follow the laws of racial equality, if they prefer their dog-attacks-dog norms!

  7. Ideology is powerful, even more so when consumed unknowingly. The very idea of brainwashing involves making people adopt radically different beliefs. The English slander of black is simply that, to take everything that Punt, Nubia, Kemet wrote and turn it on its head to make people believe the inverse. And not to isolate the English, the Greeks and many others did this as well.

  8. Ideology is very powerful. In the west most ideologies are rooted in what they call “science”. Johnson Tunu has alluded to one: Darwinism. What is darwinism, one may care to ask? Natural Selection! What? Another may care to inquire what Darwin would mean by natural selection? Well, after much deliberation in the scientific community the Darwinites themselves are now running away from their own shadows shouting that Darwin never talked about the “Survival of the Fittest” in terms of a genetic and molecular evolution.

    Well, he did, and the implications are far reaching with equally ridiculous experiences. By Natural Selection impressed by the idea of the Survival of the fittest, “scientists” in the west created Eugenics and Craniology: both of which were used to define Africans, and in fact Blacks, as Naturally Inferior. That labeling led much to the moral justification of the slave trade, colonialism, christianization, Islamization, and the intensification of the brutality of slavery and imperialism.

    You need to fully understand that when one ascribes him/herself to Darwinism that it is as dangerous as the towing ideas of White Supremacy, The Chosen, and Neo-imperialism.

    So although you might insist that Darwinism is a theory of color-blindness in Natural Selection, you fail to understand that by “Selection” one needs to ascertain what “Natural” is? By “natural” the Christians, and the white supremacists, the Eugenics professors and the Craniologists, reckoned that they had been ordained by God to interpret what “natural” was and by definition what “selection” needs to happen. This gave rise to Hitler (according to the story that is his extermination of 5 million Jews).

    My friend Johnson Tunu, there are no doctrines without consequences. If you are Black or African, you need to choose carefully or soon you will be wiped out. You have no idea!

    • Darwin was human with flaws in his theories. His thesis that there is only one human race has been confirmed by genetics, and I won’t accept the racialists’ views, even if they are propagated by fellow Africans.

    • That’s funny because it’s not your place to reject or accept racial views. You are nothing! You have no power! And the people who propagate and utilize RACISM to their benfit can give a toss about what you reject or accept. Again, you have no power!

    • Race is an analytic tool of anthropologist and so on and there it stops .I agree with you there’s only I human race with variety !

  9. Before I came to Moscow in 1980, apartheid South Africa used to make me wonder from time to time how crazy and unreasonable some fellow humans can be, but since then I have realized that racial bias is characteristic of all humans. Even ethnocentric supremacist ideas are just a local manifestation of humans putting their common sense under lock. The South Sudanese fought together against the hated lighter-skinned other-religion neighbours, only now to start killing fellow blacks of the same creed. Blacks settling from America have looked differently at fellow blacks in Liberia. Even extended families have human dislikes to each other.
    The English or their language are no more racist than say my Ewe. Our dialects look down on each othe, and we do the same to our neighbours. If whites or Chinese constituted a significant share of our population, we’d have more classical racism. The mere rabid intolerance to gays in Africa alone shows how we Africans are no better than other races. I’m no less racist than Hitler or Trump, because I wouldn’t want my grandkids to be web-footed, though, unlike Hitler, I wouldn’t ban my daughters from marrying a web-footed.
    Should we be spending a lot of time on race questions? No, and again NO!

  10. I see that Johnson Tunu, you confuse many different things. You fully grasp that everybody is human. True. And for you, that is where your understanding of the Animal Kingdom ends. It doesn’t proceed beyond that – not into the manifestations of beliefs and doctrine; not into the political and social organization of man. Please stop giving examples until you’ve clearly read amply about racism.

    Now, it is difficult to discuss race and racial priming with someone who fundamentally rejects the idea of color and the interplay of race. A rejection in principle that I agree with. Nonetheless a rejection in stupidity since race is a lively and destructible part of our existence now! To say that Ewe is just as racist as English is a putrid confession without a basis. You clearly mis-understand RACISM. You think its prejudice, you think its discrimination even, you even think RACISM is just jokes about others of the other family. No, it is not!

    So, although I find you fascinating and even ascribe to your belief that we are all human, I will not follow in your naivety into oblivion.

  11. I’m not seeking followers. The systematized economic racism in the world now, if it went away miraculously, wouldn’t mean blacks and whites would all start loving each other enthusiastically. Look deeper at human roots!

  12. Guys – Johnson Tunu and Kari Bannerman, your ignorance is amusing. There’s what we call “biological racing” and then there’s “sociological and political racing”.

    Race is not just a biological idea. You miss the point entirely. It’s also, equally and perhaps even more terrifying, a sociological, religious, and political idea. Race is a way to define difference from one human to the next. That difference is in part based on appearance and in part based on culture, ethnicity, religions, etc.

    Take a dictionary and study the English language you speak and write. Even in biology, RACE is a population within a species that is distinct in some way, especially a subspecies. Literally, RACE is a group of people descended from a common ancestor! I can go on and on and on! But you need to start reading first and understanding second before you start confusing yourselves!

    You can beat the gong all day talking about One Human Race all you want. You are only referring to the Technical Biological interpretation at the very best. Jesus! You people need to catch up quick. My goodness!

  13. Read I do, but I prefer to think independently too. I don’t see why you say you alone know widely. You are very immodest, indeed! Keep your arrogance to your pupils!

  14. So, first I debated you for saying that the Pakistani who said Trump had a Black soul and for that matter could not be president of the US was not alluding to race. I said he was. You said, why don’t we rail against all English phrases that connote that Black is evil. I said, I do, that I am against such words! That such English words or phraseology are steeped in RACISM! You said no, its just color. I said No! It’s not just color, that it’s RACISM. Only idiots who are black would thing there’s nothing wrong with someone who saids, having a black soul was tantamount to having a corrupted character.

    Then you started talking about race – as in we are all human. I said I get it, but you are narrow-minded. That yes, technically we are all human but there are [racial] differences in the sociological, cultural, ethnic, etc interpretations of RACE. You said no, there aren’t. I said, read the English dictionary. And now, after seeing that the ENGLISH dictionary confirms what I had been telling you, you say you prefer to be independent.

    So, now you don’t like what the ENGLISH dictionary says about RACE? Interesting. Now, you choose which parts of the English dictionary you like. Now, you are thinking independently and not relying on the ENGLISH dictionary definitions of RACE and of BLACK and BLACKNESS, I hope! Good for you! You have passed my class!

  15. You’re the smartest, most open-minded, etc. ,etc,! I have had enough of your culturedness for one day! Thank you! Just like folks on Ghana web! I am appreciative of your exclusive upbringing and omniscience!

  16. You know what ad hominem is? You know what logical fallacy that is? My God, whatever is blinding you from seeing clearly through reason, you need to step back, away from it, and look at it from afar!

  17. Ideas of race are centuries old, but it was not until the 19th century that attempts to systematize racial divisions were made by European scientists and social scientists.

    Ideas of supposed racial superiority and social Darwinism reached their culmination in Nazi ideology of the 1930s and gave pseudoscientific justification to policies and attitudes of discrimination, exploitation, slavery, and extermination.

    Although theories of race asserting a link between racial type and intelligence are now discredited, scientifically it is accepted as obvious that there are subdivisions of the human species, but it is also clear that genetic variation between individuals of the same race can be as great as that between members of different races.

    Still, there’s such a thing as race. And yes, there’s also such a thing as One Human Race. The two are not mutually exclusive.

    • The reached their peak during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Don’t give too much credit to the civil war ypipo were enjoying in Europe.

  18. My sista Akosua M. Abeka
    where do you get this vast vocabulary??? “deracinate” “subreption” some of these words I have never heard of and I am an avid reader…Eiish me to I want to go to that school some oh!
    Impressive.. I do love how you write. Wa ben paa!!!

  19. Grace you beat me to this !I wanted to ask what they meant and why Simpler words were not used .After all some of us are not academics !!

    Concept laden strange words do NOT actually help the reader or listener understand what’s being put across

    The best educators tend to use the simplest words .Listen to Noam Chomsky for eg
    It does though not detract from fact my English vocabulary is woefully limited
    Thank you for your posts

  20. Kari I on the other hand also not an academic appreciate the new words I am learning. Sometimes(I think) simple words don’t do the trick. There is a time for that and also a time to use “concept laden” words. I do like the fact that I always learn new words from my Sister Akosua for me it doesn’t distract but enhances.

  21. Sista Grace Ayensu Danquah, wa ben pa pa! Chale your responses are bursting the highest grades on FB oh! Awurade. Sista, are you sure you don’t know these words? I have seen you in many places do worse damage to the English language than myself. Lol. Anyways, thanks for your very kind words.

    • Really I didn’t know those words had to look them up… Keep up the good works. I do like learning from you.

  22. Kari Bannerman, what? You hating on Akosua M. Abeka? What? Noam Chomsky? Have you read Noam Chomsky’s several books? Talking is different from writing! The distinction is not insignificant in this instance. I appreciate your astute study of language, my dear Akosua.

  23. My take is words themselves are abstractions ( a big word !) so the simpler the better on FB.Dade am waiting for where am hating.

  24. You amuse me. Ok. I will oblige you. How would you put the following sentence in your simpler words?

    “Nefetiti explores the rich and complex meanings of Black and Blackness in an attempt to deracinate the complete subreption that is the contorted “black” newly introduced through colonialism.”

  25. Kari, someone has played their music, you say it could played with simpler notes. I say you are just hating. You say no. I say then show me you can play it in simpler notes. You say no, I should tell you why I said you are hating?

    I am not sure if you are misreading the phrase “you are hating”. That phrase has nothing to do with “hating” Akosua. It simply meant that you don’t like it. You don’t like that she used “big words”.

    So, I will rephrase: You don’t like (you are hating) that Akosua used big words. No? Ok. Show me by simplifying the sentence. Thank you.

  26. My point is why did You bring hatred into what is a dispassionate discussion ? It was a preference that’s all it does not mean ‘I don’t like !’ Why bring in hatred ?

  27. You still don’t understand English! Show me by simplifying the sentence or you are just hating on Akosua M. Abeka! Jesus! What preference? Then write your own sentence and let’s see if it’s preference or not?

  28. GrandmotherAfrica is a massive, open, online classroom where you see creative writing, indigenous processing of ideas and courage in action. Often, I don’t read the articles in my own voice (in my head). I look at the author’s avatar and imagine the voice behind the words. Interestingly, your expressions match your respective avatars. Lol
    This is free education. I don’t have money for school fees. So keep them coming.

  29. Kari I think your response comes of as “hating” because of your tone. You say “the best educators tend to use the simplest words,” which implies that Akosua is trying to educate you/us/someone and that you think she could do a better job, seeing that she’s not one of the best at it. You also imply that she’s an academic talking down to people by her choice of words. I don’t think Akosua has ever said she is an academic, and you shouldn’t assume that she is just because she uses a dictionary.

    You also call her words strange–from your perspective of course–but if you called someone or their words strange, how do you think that comes off?

  30. And Dade means hating in slang which doesn’t mean anything close to hatred but that you seem to be trying to diminish her shine, knock her down a notch by poking at her words. This might not have been your intention but that’s how it’s perceived.

  31. This Dade v Kari beef sounds better in a rap verse. Now let spit some’ing lil in that sense for y’all. Haa, I got my guns clocked n ready to role. Who’s hating on my sista? Who’s trying to knock down my sista’s hustle. Haters better step back or lay low or I’ma make Chinchinga kebab outta them. Haters better not hate, lovers keep lovin. I hold my peace sign up calling a truce. Peace out.

    • Damn who invoked hatred in all this ?Now it’s all out ad hominems .Unbelievable

      You must ask yourselves why you see hatred whole there’s none .I don’t know the lady .Unbelievable

  32. I have not been able to read the article, but Akosua, I love the picture and the first few lines of the description. Will try to catch up with my reading … and if necessary will comment. Thanks for sharing

  33. I’ve just come from a performance to see this

    Abena these are your projections on me for saying I would prefer simpler words ? -the idea ,thus invokes hatred ?Why would I hate Akosua ?What’s wrong with me preferring simpler words to explain a point ?And yes if you would read that post I point out that my command of English woeful .And if I sound like Akosua is my teacher ,well sorry but that’s how approach posts of this nature to be taught !!

    Lastly if I have offended Akosua then I apologise though I haven’t heard her say that .An am sure she can easily speak for herself

    Where this idea of ‘ hatred’ from and ‘tone’??

    It’s Dade who invoked ‘hatred ‘ that’s where all this starts from

    Ask Akosua herself if what I wrote means I hate and stop projecting your own feelings into what I wrote
    Ask Akosua.

  34. Kari Bannerman and Dade Afre Akufu, it’s okay – this will go nowhere. There’s no love lost here. So we meet again on another intense and useful debate.


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