Black Like Me

No, I’m not about to give a history or literature lesson on John Howard Griffin. This blog is strictly concerning my own personal journey.

No, it has nothing to do with the upcoming Black History Month.

It has to do with my everyday life.

This one won’t be full of laughs, but catch me tomorrow. I’ll be here all week.

There’s a running joke between my wife, our friends and my family about how she’s ‘blacker’ than I am even while being a white woman. I roll my eyes when it’s carted out while everybody laughs. It doesn’t bother me because deep down I think it’s done to make light or relieve the stress of a situation I’ve dealt with a lot in my life.

You see, I’ve been told many, many times throughout my forty-six years that I don’t act black enough. I guess I have a laundry list of characteristics that don’t fit the stereotype. I can’t dance. That is to say, I have no rhythm at all. I more than likely look like Elaine from that episode of Seinfeld and that is the god’s honest truth.

When I make initial contact with my clients and their parents, a lot of the times they are shocked that I’m black. I even had one mother tell me I sounded like I should have been a middle-aged white woman.

I don’t speak what’s affectionately known as Ebonics. In fact, there are times when I have no idea what is being said. To add to that, I grew up in a small town in Arkansas. I haven’t been back in over 20 years but I used to visit relatives and friends while I was in college. Some would speak and some would thumb their nose at me and whisper how I thought I was better than them because I never sounded like them and I went away to college.  Years later I heard that the same individuals were waiting for me to fall flat on my face or end up pregnant.

Furthermore, I don’t listen to hip hop or rap music because I don’t know what I’m getting. Some of it is demeaning to women and detrimental to my race in general in my opinion. I don’t listen to a lot of R&B for the same reasons. I’m old school. Bring me some Sugar Hill Gang, Houdini, Cool Mo Dee and some of the pioneers in the genre and I’ll listen to it all day long. However, I also listen to alternative, Metal, Pop, Indie Rock, and a bunch of other shit the most. Hell, I was singing along with Fleetwood Mac just the other day as they looked for Big Love.

To make matters worse, I’m a lesbian, which is still taboo in my community, and I’m married to a white woman, which isn’t all that unusual. But, in some circles I’d be categorized as an Uncle Tom, someone who has betrayed the culture and has social allegiance to the race who enslaved us. I’m far from that. Very far.

It’s okay that I can’t dance.

It’s okay that I don’t speak Ebonics.

It’s okay that I don’t like hip hop.

I know my history. I know where we have been. I know that at times we are stuck, and I see where some of us are trying to go. I celebrate my culture in all its forms. No one is alike and nor should they be. That’s okay too.

Stereotypes are alive and well in the black community and they can be used by people who look like me to stigmatize each other and create chaos within. After all, a minority that’s split and factioned is easier to keep down. In turn, those same stereotypes are use by other races to feed into continued prejudice as well.

It’s like an attack coming from all sides and within.

This is something I’ve addressed within the LGBTQIA and lesfic communities.

We are indeed microcosms and embroiled in the same issue. Are we not?

 

KD’s work can be found on Amazon or at Ylva.  Her next book in the Cops and Docs Series, Drawing the Line is now readily available. For more information on KD visit her website

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11 comments

  1. Oddly this also happens in the LGBTQIA community as well. The “you don’t look like a lesbian,” sometimes pisses me off and I choose the cowardly way by chuckling and trying to gently educate (it never works). Keep on educating people, maybe one of those noodles will stick to the wall! Divide and conquer works and that is why those in power use it…..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am an older (much older) straight, white woman. I like to read les/fic. Weird???? Not what people expect????
    Now, I know that many people would look down on me for that but —— I don’t care!!! Life truly is too short to not do what makes you happy. I don’t care what color, religion, ethnic background, shoe size or bra size people are as long as they live life in a happy place. Their own happy place. Hopefully you won’t be judged and I won’t be judged simply for living as we want to live and being happy the way we are. On another note—I love your books and believe that I have read them all. Thank you and keep writing!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I “overstand” every word that you’ve written here, K.D. Those who would label us “not black enough” do not experience the micro-agressions foisted upon us daily by those who see only our color or by those who remain blinded by racial stereotypes.

    You might be there already, but if you’re not, you’ll probably arrive at that place where the accusations of non-fealty to your racial identity will no longer faze you. It’s freeing.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I thank your for blog today and thank you for expressing your thoughts and feelings. Although from a different cultural mix than yours the price one suffers is real. Soaring higher and being “You” is healing. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is strong and vunerable blog, I can’t help but say as a commuity we don’t like to be looked at as the stereotype by others, yet still enforce the strerotype among ourselves. And we shouldn’t feel like not adhering to the stereotype invalidates blackness

    Liked by 1 person

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