Once upon a time there was a young lady that became friends with a young man that was a little more outspoken then she was. As their friendship developed, she called his house one day and his mother answered. She advised the pre-teen that she did not allow white girls to call her son and requested to speak with her mother. The young girl proceeded to put her mother on the phone as requested. The women advised her mother that this little girl was no longer welcome to call her house. The girl’s mother advised the women that her daughter was black and wanted to confirm the age of the women’s son as her son’s voice was fairly deep. This may be an interesting start to this, but it is part of my story. I was 12 when this occurred and was right at the beginning of starting to talk with boys on the phone. I learned at an early age that speaking a certain way and carrying myself as such would mean I may be depicted as something completely different based on the color of my skin, the way I speak/spoke versus what I brought to the table.
In an article from CNN, the President stated, “Sometimes African-Americans, in communities where I’ve worked, there’s been the notion of ‘acting white’ — which sometimes is overstated,” he told the group. “But there’s an element of truth to it, where, OK, if boys are reading too much, then, well, why are you doing that? Or why are you speaking so properly? And the notion that there’s some authentic way of being black, that if you’re going to be black you have to act a certain way and wear a certain kind of clothes, that has to go. There are many different ways for African-American men to be authentic.”
So many times, our children now days start to learn this same lesson mentioned above. They learn it through the shows they watch, the music they hear, the environment they are around, and the way people treat or what they say to them. I am by no means saying we don’t all have some preconceived notions of people on site, but rather it is how you react that makes the difference. I hear people discuss perception versus reality all the time. I am not sure how you evaluate this on the daily basis, but know we all have times of looking different from what people perceive us as. I have seen the battle in so many attempting to fit between the color lines based on where they felt most comfortable. Their comfort level may vary based on how certain people treat them, the response to mistakes, the stereotype, etc. I titled this as I did as this has been an ongoing issue. I am not indicating this is everyone in the world. However, if it brings awareness to you as you live your life, then by all means… I have done what I needed to do. I can’t begin to understand why kids would want to run around holding their pants vs wearing a belt. I can’t understand why someone would prefer to do things that attempt to label them or throw them into a certain category. However, those doing this don’t make them wrong. Just since I have been around, people are quick to label kids that wear their pants below their waste, gold teeth, tattooed up, smoking blacks (this is not weed), and loud gansta rap. The comment acting black or acting white, irritates the hell out of me!!! You can’t act a color, but if your mindset agrees with this comment then you are influencing and sharing those views with people around you. Views that are being passed on to the kids and the future of tomorrow. They don’t come out of the womb caring if someone is white, brown, dark, light, natural or straight hair. Behaviors are learned and carried on, they aren’t birthed with these.
My question is, do you agree? Does being black bring a connotation with it, either good or bad? Do you think people have certain apprehensions when it comes to black people that they do not have about White, Asians, Indians, etc? If so, why is that? We can’t simply say crime rates and drug use. Many people that I have had these convos with based this on a small select group of people they have been around or had bad dealings with. My issue with that is all races have some bad apples; it isn’t just the black race. I have heard people say that their parents don’t mind them bringing someone of another race home as a friend, but if they were to bring someone they were dating home, they know the person they bring home could not be black. I would ask why is that…well it is due to what has occurred with past people we have known that were black. Huh?? What does this mean. Do we judge an entire race off of certain encounters with different individuals?
The movie Imitation of Life is a perfect example. This movie shows a young girl running from her background due to trying to get a better opportunity. Now in the day this was made, her being another race made a difference for her to advance. She carried herself and surrounded herself with certain people in hopes that her race would not be revealed. So many may be able to connect to this due to the timeframe this was released. However, it still shows that being black can come with a stigma that does not take into account your individualism nor talent.
The movie Dancing in September is a movie that shows a young black woman attempting to make it in the world of television and movies. She is striving hard to make a difference in the things she brings to people’s homes and to view for enjoyment. She ends up meeting a television executive that helps her along the way. They both have a similar vision. However, along the way one show that takes off that has a black cast is asked to do more things that seem “blackish” or that would seem to relate to others while still being in the black sterotype. She and he had issues with this, but ultimately did add additional things to “make it more relatable” that just happen to not be so funny to those trying to bring a different identity with black entertainment.
I hear the things kids say to one another through listening to my niece and nephews. My nephews are biracial and I know at some point they will be asked some of these things or some dumb parent of a child they are visiting will make a comment. I dread those days for them. They all dress nice, hair combed, love different times of music. I pray that they will only be viewed based on their characteristics.
I refuse to lesson my vernacular to help someone else feel more superior or less comfortable being around me based on my race!!!!
Does being black really only come down to speaking ebonics, dressing a certain way, urban hair styles and colors, talking loud, fake nails, fake hair, and derogatory things. Is there a way to act a color or race? If so, what depicts that race and why?