April 2, 2010

Diary of a Former Self Hating Black Girl

I've been thinking about this post for a long time. I wanted to write something about Race and writing and all that good stuff. I always tend to drag my heels when stating opinions about things partly because (A) I really don't have a strong opinion about most subjects. (B) For some reason, despite claiming I don't care what people think and usually I don't, but when it's "taboo" subjects, I tend to be afraid that someone is going to flame me. At any rate, I've gotten used to flames and in fact, those flames help fuel some of these posts. If I'm going to get anywhere in life, I'm going to have to be more open to sharing my opinion on things. And what better way to do that than on the internet. Let me start off by stating that is just an opinion and it is not fact. I also apologize if you are somehow offended by something I write. (This will probably be the last apology, because I shouldn't have to apologize for having an opinion about anything, but it's worth saying because some people are crazy and find any reason to be offended.)

I was blessed to go to a public charter school that taught students to be well-rounded. We learned music in first grade and chose an instrument (I chose saxophone) in fourth grade and we also learned piano. We learned Spanish beginning in first grade (and I'm still not as fluent as I should be, but if you don't use it, you lose it) and we had plays, concerts, among many other things. This school had a mixture of kids; Blacks, Latinos, Whites, and a few Asians. Most of my friends were also a mixture too and I guess when you're young, you don't really notice color. Or rather, it's not of consequence. In elementary school, you'd never say "I'd never hang out with so and so because their so and so ethnicity" and if you do say it, it's usually because "My parents don't like so and so ethnicity skin color" (kids that say this were few and far between). This was a protective little bubble. My daycares were the same way (my mother being a single parent, I had to go to daycare). Skin color wasn't of consequence. However, this wasn't how the world worked, and this definitely wasn't a reflection of our city.

Loser Middle Schooler:
After sixth grade I was kicked out of that protective bubble of elementary school and daycare and started middle school. I started hanging out with a group of girls that were mostly Black and Latino. It was still not a consequence of skin color, but more of individual differences. I was obsessed into anime, and they weren't. There's nothing wrong with that, but sometimes you grow apart because of these differences. It seemed when I started hanging out with my other friends which my main group of friends were Asian/Pacific Islander and/or White, problems arose. And it wasn't from White people, it was from other Blacks.

These problems with the Black girls probably came because I looked like a victim. I didn't talk to people, wore descent looking clothes, had my hair done every week or so, had braces, acne, and glasses. I looked like I had mostly everything together. I wasn't terribly ugly(that to say if I wanted to make myself look pretty, I could, but I didn't care), but I was going through that awkward middle school stage. We all were. And as a consequence of that, we were at the stage where we are working on ways to build our self-esteem. Some people turned inward and found their own self-confidence, like one of my friends, who rose above certain aspects of her life (aspects I didn't even know she had to overcome until after high school) and stayed true to herself and her dreams. Others looked inward and began to self destruct when they didn't like what they saw. Others chose to look towards relationships (boys) to get some sort of validation that they weren't getting from others. Others chose to look outward and lift people up. Others chose to look outward and bring people down.

I think I was one of those people who looked outward and brought other people down. I already had the inner self confidence for the most part, but somehow it took a radical turn. Black people have been taught, whether subtly or not, to hate themselves. Yet, everyone wants the "benefits" of being Black, without all the negatives. People want to tan, have big butts, and the ability to change their hairstyle and have it stay (unless you add water) without having to worry about being followed around a store, being pulled over for driving in the wrong neighborhood, or having feelings invalidated by others because you're being too sensitive about racial matters.

At any rate, I was a self-hating Black person. Yes, I admit it. It took a long time to get to the point where I could actually realize it. I didn't hate myself because I personally was Black, I love being Black, it made me different. If I were any other race, I'd be even more boring than I already am. I hated other Black people, not because they were Black, but because I believed they were perpetuating the stereotype. It took a long time to realize that these stereotypes weren't created by them, but created by the media. I didn't realize that being Black, no matter whether you were stereotypical or educated or other, was a negative until I experienced the prejudices of people in my town. When I started Middle School, I was allowed to go to places on my own and felt the way people treated me when it was based on my skin color and not my personality (which I'll admit isn't the most lovable, but at least when it was personality, I knew)

It became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I expected Black people to be mean to me, because that's what I believed that Black people were, they were mean. So I became standoffish and most likely, stuck up. I wasn't stuck up to begin with, but I'm sure I filled a self-fulfilling prophecy for them as well. When you're trying to come to terms with a society that's pitted against you, you have to come up with coping mechanisms. My coping mechanism was to avoid Black people. I came up with ways like "Oh, I'm part Native American and West Indian and... blah blah" even though I am mixed with Black (we're still in debate about whether my great grandfather was from Ghana or the Caribbean), White, and Native American (found this out after doing some research for a paper in college), it doesn't matter. Nobody is doing a DNA test when I walk into a store, I still look Black and people are going to treat me like I'm Black, no matter how many degrees I have, or how ever many colors I have in my hair.

It's not my fault, it's not theirs. It's no ones fault if you aren't aware of the forces that pit you against your fellow man. It's society. Society comes up with ways to keep Black people from coming together. Society comes up with ways to keep everyone from coming together. Imagine what a powerful we could be if we all learned to cooperate? It would be amazing. It would also be dangerous. Very dangerous to people in charge, the ones that make our decisions and make the rules. That small percentage that owns all the wealth and is too afraid to let go of their power. God forbid we start demanding things like racial equality, gay rights, and universal health care. God forbid we start demanding to be treated like human beings.


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