For a long time, my blackness was something that I struggled with. Obviously I am a black woman but there have been times where I didn’t “feel” black. As a child, I went to a predominately white school. I never felt out of place and it really didn’t bother me to be the only African American child in my class. It wasn’t until I went to middle school, where I was in class with several black children, where I felt like I didn’t fit in—like I didn’t fit in my own skin. I was called an “oreo”, which is “a black person who is regarded as having adopted the attitudes, values, and behavior, thought to be characteristic of middle-class white society, often at the expense of his or her own heritage” according to dictionary.com. In short, an “Oreo” is someone black on the outside and white on the inside. I was perpetually told I talk and act white, and that I was born with the wrong skin color. This made me go the extra mile to prove I was black just like them. I would also try to talk and act “blacker”.
Even my favorite music and TV shows weren’t that of what a black person listens to and watches. I liked Weezer and TV shows like “That 70’s Show” and “Malcolm in the Middle”. To me, it was just what I enjoyed. I also wasn’t even aware that I said the word “like” until someone mimicked the way I spoke. Some heard it in my voice, not enough black I suppose. The constant attack on my blackness made me very insecure. I just cannot fathom how black people are so quick to recognize racism as directed towards them from whites, Latinos, Asians but miss the very real racism that exists within our race from one another. There is very real racism within the African American community. I didn’t feel that I was “white on the inside” ( as dumb as that sounds) nor did I ever wish to be white. I loved Hip Hop and I especially loved Spike Lee films with “Crooklyn” being my favorite. The 1994 movie is a coming of age tale about Troy Carmichael, a little black girl with big hair and a big voice. What’s more is that “Crooklyn” is a nostalgic story about everybody’s family against the soundtrack of The Jackson Five, The Staple Singers, Curtis Mayfield, etc. I so clearly remember loving this movie as a child because it was a “Black movie.”
Furthermore, the “sassy black woman” stereotype is something I was ashamed I could not live up to, as painful as that is to admit. This type of woman isn’t afraid to express her opinions, she’s confident, and she knows how to put people in their place according to tvtropes.org. This stereotype started at the intersection of the Feminist Movement and the Civil Rights Movement, where black women became more visible parts of American society with groups campaigning for rights of both African Americans and women. Although this stereotype is harmful and immensely ignorant, I was bothered that I could never be sassy. I thought these qualities, like confidence and assertiveness were admirable. For a large portion of my adolescence I was always made to feel like I wasn’t black enough, so I didn’t feel like my black womanhood was particularly ardent.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve changed tremendously. I began to love my blackness and not let other’s perception of what “black” is supposed to be define me. I am black and black is me.