My brother has a long line of segments on this thing (Toku Tuesday, his ongoing story thing) and I decided I wanted one, too. And thus, because my writing is more about my life experiences and my daily happenings, I am starting the following hottychic special segment:
Contrary to Popular Belief
I’m going to set the record straight about a lot of things (in my life) and trust me, there are quite a few. Who knows, maybe a weekly entry will come from this.
So let’s get started. Contrary to popular belief…
…I am not biracial.
I know this sounds completely stupid and not worth posting, but after being in college for a whole semester (and secondary term now), this is a question I have been asked quite frequently. Even more, it is a question that has traveled with me for years now and half the time, I don’t quite understand why. And I suppose that, in the spirit of Black History Month this month, this is something I should address.
Contrary to popular belief, I was born to two African-American citizens in the state of Tennessee meaning that I am not, in any way/form/fashion, biracial. I’m not entirely sure what causes people to believe that I am mixed, but I might as well address the possibilities:
1.) I am lighter skinned than some of my other African-American counterparts.
This became evident my senior year of high school only about a week into my photography class. According to Karmen and her friend, I looked “high.” I didn’t quite know what that meant because I had never smoked any drug before in my life, and I’m pretty sure I had gotten a decent amount of sleep the night before. My friend Mary thought that maybe they were referring to the yellow content of my skin tone, but that made no sense either because when referring to one’s skin tone, one says “light skinned” or “dark skinned.” I don’t, til this day, know what high means.
2.) I am more educated than some of my other African-American counterparts.
I can’t deny this one, and truthfully, I am quite proud of this. I grew up going to predominantly white schools in Tennessee, and though Tennessee’s public school system is certainly not the best in the nation, my schools always managed to transcend the expectations that my school system had set for us. And, unlike some other black kids, I have exceeded many of the expectations that society has for me. For instance:
- I’m 19 and I’m in college: Many African Americans don’t quite make it to college. A lot of us do. But society doesn’t exactly expect us to get there. That is not oppression by the white man, that is simply oppression by we as black people. But I am seeking an education. I have goals for myself and going to jail is not one of them. Neither is selling my body on the street…
- I’m 19, in college, and I don’t have any kids: According to society, I should have run away from home 6 years ago at age 13, met some random middle aged man on the street who took me in and then abused me and possibly raped me. I should have had my first kid around age 15. By 17, after I ran away again and met my on again-off again boyfriend of a year and a half, I should have had my second child. And now, at age 19, I should have 3 kids (the third child being fathered by some random guy who is not my on again-off again boyfriend) with another on the way and I should be living off welfare. I do not have any kids, and I have a job. And though I am not being paid very much, one must also consider the fact that I am also a college student at a well respected liberal arts college.
And that’s only basic stuff. I’m smarter than that. I’m no hardcore feminist or anything (though I am enjoying my women’s studies class this semester), but I do believe that women are capable of being strong individuals in society. Even more, the only way I intend to achieve any of my goals is by being educated. I sound like I have an education because I can formulate complete thoughts and I believe in using proper grammar. I can write a well researched paper with proper citations and subject-verb agreement. The question “Is you going to the mall after school?” and the sentence “I ain’t never said that to nobody” will never come out of my mouth. And sometimes people think I am biracial or that I act white because I decided to take AP and honors courses and I completed the International Baccalaureate program and earned the diploma for that. Somehow seeking education makes me less of a black person. How? I really don’t know.
3.) I am not a big fan of hip-hop/R&B/rap music.
I’m sorry, but talking about all the “hoes” you’ve “fucked” and how you “made it rain” at the club last night while you were getting drunk off expensive champagne does not make you a man let alone black. In fact, it means that you lack a respect for women (who lack respect for themselves) and you wasted tons of money by throwing it in the air while killing your liver with immense amounts of poison. That is what the African-American community calls music and frankly, I disagree. Music is not a bunch of people shaking their “thang” and grinding with people. Music has a purpose and a message and the message that these people in particular are sending is that it is ok for a 6 year old girl to shake her little behind while her 7 year old next door neighbor rubs his hands all over her to the new song by some idiot named Soulja Boy who couldn’t even come up with a more clever song than Crank Dat Soulja Boy. That is not music. That is pointless garbage. Now give me some classic Biggie or Tupac or Run DMC, and you may have yourself a winner.
4.) I do not wear designer labels.
Now this one actually crosses over into many races and not just African-American; however, the styles that have plagued the ethnic population as of late: graphic tees, skinny jeans, mini skirts, tutus (yes, Avril Lavigne’s trend finally came to fruition…5 years later…), etc. In context, there is nothing wrong with all that. But take a pair of size 8 skinny jeans and put them on a girl who is most definitely a size 20…Imagine a size 4 dress on a girl who is wider than the Great Pumpkin from the Charlie Brown Halloween Special…it wasn’t meant to be. Just because I do not rock the latest Louis Vuitton handbag or because I don’t have an Apple on my Bottom, none of that makes me any less of a black person. And because I do not spend hundreds of dollars trying to afford a pair of boots that I can hardly walk in, I am no less black than the next person. I will stick to my 20 dollar Wal-mart jeans and beat up Reeboks, thanks.
5.) My group of friends is predominantly Caucasian.
This may be the golden ticket for why people think I act white or am, at best, biracial. Because I have always been raised to value education and because of my attendance at predominantly white schools, I have simply grown up around white people. Maybe their practices have rubbed off on me, I don’t know, but at the same time, I don’t see how hanging out with white people makes me white too. Or the even bigger question, how does it automatically make me biracial? Sitting around whites doesn’t change the fact that my parents are black or that (stereotypically speaking) I still like fried chicken, good ol’ collard greens and Kool-Aid. And just because I am not still angry with Caucasians for enslaving Africans hundreds of years ago, that doesn’t mean that I am white or that I dislike my own people. No, I’m pretty sure the color of my skin, my heritage, and all of that are still the same despite my friends and my views on African-American history.
I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t particularly care if people think I am biracial because they will find out soon enough that I am not. I do not care that the majority of my friends are white and that I do not qualify as a stereotypical “black” person. However, I will say (for clarification purposes only) that contrary to popular belief:
1.) I am NOT biracial
2.) I am NOT black
3.) I am brown