Today’s subject is one of great importance. It’s about something that I know all too well: being Black.
Now, of course I have non-Black readers, so this is not to be exclusive, but to be thought of as a glimpse at the internal conflict that a Black person may experience.
Have you ever had someone question your Blackness? Have you ever had someone ask you why you “talk White” or “dress White” or do anything other than be Black? Where do we get this?
Why do we do this to each other?!
Sometimes it seems as though, within our own community, if you don’t dress or talk a certain way, you may not be seen as “Black enough”. Step into a predominantly White community and regardless of how you dress or speak, you’ll definitely contain enough Blackness.
I remember being in high school (a predominantly Hispanic, DISD school) and telling everyone that I got into SMU. A lot of their responses: “Oh you seem like you would go there.” “Yeah, you would fit in perfect there.” “You act White anyways.” And these responses were coming from Black students.
Ask me the ethnicity of most of my friends at SMU. Here’s a hint: they’re mostly the same color as me (and not from over-tanning either). I honestly feel as though the SMU Black community is comprised of all of the “White-Black, Black-enough, I-speak-proper-English-but-I-can-still-be-ignorant, sorry-I’m-awkward, Let-me-make-this-inappropriate-joke, we-real-Black, but-still-can-put-on-my-proper-voice-for-the-phone” type of people.
Going through college, I met so many other Black students that shared my experience of growing up as “other”. I thought it would get better after graduation, but I have noticed that the categorization of the black experience is just as predominant in the working world with other adults.
To this day, I still catch hell from certain people for speaking in a proper manner.
Here’s the thing, beloved, I have an ENGLISH degree from one of the most prestigious universities in the US. I’ve pretty much mastered the whole code-switching thing.
Now, I can only speak from my experience because that’s all I know, but I feel as though it is one that transcends over time.
If you’re not living under a rock, you are probably aware of the many Black lives that have been lost over the years due to racially charged violence.
We must stop separating ourselves into categories of light-skinned vs dark-skinned, relaxed hair vs natural hair, proper English vs slang, etc.
We must acknowledge our similarities and stop dwelling on our differences.
The irony of black and white is that black is created to be less visible in certain settings.
However, if properly placed, black will always dominate.
We wear solid black when we want to evoke thought. Evoke emotion. Evoke power.
We have a target placed on our face, on our heart, on our back.
We are tinted and dipped in different shades of the sunlight, but a target nonetheless.
We all thank God when cops don’t follow us or when it wasn’t our very own brother that was shot.
You are black on a white backdrop. You are a bullseye.
You are an aim for empty practice. A broken piece of wood that so happens to leak blood.
Like a bullet hole in a body or in a target, what was behind you never becomes visible until a bullet has been through you.
Your past of drugs, alcohol, and sex was nothing until you were dead and defenseless.
Until we could see through the holes.
We are all the same black body. The same black voice.
You are my brother. You are my sister.
We are one.