When I watch the news, it’s very rare to see the good things that African Americans do, or really have done (outside of black history month). Now, I am a proud black woman, don’t ever get that confused, but when I see other young black women/girls on social media shaking their asses in their underwear or fighting I am saddened and a little ashamed that this is what people think of us. When I think of certain black single mothers and see the stereotype that I tried my hardest to stay away from, I am ashamed. Why? Because that’s what society thinks of when they see all of us. It doesn’t matter that I am not you and you are not me, it matters that we all check the black box on our applications. There are hundreds of successful black men and women, but those that stay in the spotlight are those that can barely string a sentence together without cussing or fighting or saying the n word.
I have not ever been the type to want a prize or a cookie based solely on the fact that my skin is a fabulous dark brown, but in a world where we constantly cry out for the ability to be equals, there sure are a lot of “us” holding us back. When you post yourself all on the internet that way, that stays the image in people’s minds as every black person. When I was younger, my mother taught me not to see color at all, but she also told me that anything I was I would have to be 20 times better simply because I am female and black. I did not (and still do not) speak slang, instead of going to parties with the other children in my all black neighborhood I studied and worked and instead of seeing that as me choosing to have a different life than them they said I wanted to be white. Most of the teasing I’ve experienced came from other black people. Because instead of looking up to Nicki Minaj and calling myself a barbie or a bad bitch, I look up to Michelle Obama and call myself a strong, educated black woman.
When I was younger, I really couldn’t understand why it was so hard for my peers to see that you don’t have to be a drug dealer just because you’re black, and that adhering to stereotypes just makes them ignorant and not more black than me. Living in WV, its difficult to deal with the racial issues that come with traveling to certain places but also dealing with them from my own race. My own race, that tried to have a party to “turn up” for MLK because that is what he stood for; because he and so many others died so that we can coin phrases like “turn up” and “thot” and kill each other instead of going to school or voting or capitalizing on our rights that were fought for and earned.
The first thing people notice about me is that I am black–it’s not a secret–and let me tell you how proud I was to walk across the stage and graduate from high school black. To go to the senior awards ceremony and accept 15 total scholarships and awards for academic achievement alone; to be offered the highest scholarship amount possible as a black cheerleader at a private university and then have a baby and walk my black ass across the stage to accept my bachelor’s degree. Or how about when I made history at my high school as part of the first set of black cheerleading captains and then I took my black ass back and became the first black head cheerleading coach at my school? What people don’t understand is that you don’t have to scream about being black to be black. Maybe I should be offended by the thought that I hate myself because I choose not to be a stereotype, or because my mother wanted better for me and I want better for my son.
Everything I have done in my life and will continue to do will be to make it possible for me (and my son) to go places and achieve without the first thought being “she’s black” and letting all the images of little girls jerking their half naked bodies around and calling themselves “barbie” while fighting each other in the street over their “nigga” or who is the baddest bitch. Not that I have to explain myself to anyone, but my favorite thing about myself is my skin and my body. The way I look healthy when I am dark chocolate and curvy like I have been my whole life. I love my big lips, hips, and thighs. I may not be your definition of black, but I am mine. To you I am “pretty for a black girl” or “wanna be white” but to me? I am at my most beautiful at my darkest, with my nappy hair and attitude.
It is and always will be difficult for anyone to understand what it feels like to be black, and that includes those of us that are. I spent this weekend watching the Martin Luther King Jr celebration on BET and in those movies the men were respectful and the women hard working–they most certainly were not twerking or calling each other hos and bitches on the internet. My idea of being black is making myself better in spite of my skin color so that those that come after me will see me as an example and do the same while accepting everyone around me as who they are inside because that is how I want to be treated. I’ve read so many blogs and tweets about Scandal and Being Mary Jane and how they don’t accurately represent black women, but the real question should be how do you represent yourself? We are all part of the bigger picture, part of the dream that MLK died fighting for–not just those that constantly judge others that choose live a life different than theirs, not “redbones” or light skins or dark skins, everyone. It doesn’t mean they think they’re better than you (sometimes) it means we want to do and be better for the sake of our families.
But if you know the answer, please tweet or comment the answer to “How black do you have to be to be considered black enough?” I’m dying to know.