Monday, October 4, 2010

The Black Phenomena

So I am doing an interview on Wednesday. I’ll be talking about race. This should be interesting.

For all of you that know me, ‘race’ is a tongue-in-cheek topic to me. They say age is nothin’ but a number, well, that’s how I view this whole race topic. It’s nothin’ but a color, stereotype, or category that makes people more noticeable to the general public.

 I play into the stereotypes all the time, while at the same time despising them. Because this is what I’ve found out; everyone is still going feel a little out a sorts when they meet me. Whichever stereotype they’ve placed (white or black) me in tends to be wrong.  My first experience with this came my senior year in high school.
I had to go into foster care for two months (another story all together) and my foster mom’s uncle called from California.

“Hi Unlce John.”

“I thought Katie said you were black.”

“I am.”

“You don’t sound black at all.”

Growing up in southern Minnesota for the majority of my life, I had no idea that I was suppose to ‘sound’ different. I mean come on; I was one of seven to eight African American students in my high school in a four year time span. Two of those seven were my brothers. That’s not much to go off of.

Fast forward to my first year of college, my first encounter with other ‘blacks’. I was continuously accused of ‘acting’ white. This left me scratching my head. They knew my background. Adopted in to a white family at birth, lived in rural communities for all but five years of my eighteen years.  Honestly, you would expect a cat to go feral if it lived in the wild that long. They adapt to their surroundings. This applies to humans too.

Not when you’re black. You’re born with the ‘knowledge of blackness.’ What that means is still beyond my comprehension, but my husband prays there is still hope for me. This is in general what I know about the ‘knowledge of blackness.’

#1 All black people love chicken, ribs and grilling.

#2 All black people have some sense of rhythm. 

#3 All black people know Ebonics. (if you don’t know what that is look it up, I had to to remember what it was called.)
#4 All black people are known to be right on time, fashionably late, or late.

#5 If you haven't seen Boyz n' the Hood or any of the Friday movies it's a major failing.

I know my general knowledge of this topic is limited and vague, but check with your local African American (not me) for a more accurate explanation.

What I am getting at is, being black has these weird cultural/social norms that are expected to be inherited at birth. Don’t worry though; the way I grew up has the tendencies too, like: you need to be extra early to everything, or you need to know everyone’s business, or you may not know how to dance, but you sure know how to party.

What do you do when all these cultural norms start seeping out of their boundaries? You sit back and laugh. Because when a sheriff walks into your parents house and then asks your dad (who is white) if he and your mom do foster care (which they don’t), that’s funny. When you do a family picture and all the black people wear white and all the white people wear black, that’s funny. When your friends (who are white) decide to name your unborn child Tavante, that’s hilarious.

And laughter blurs all that seepage together until it doesn’t make a difference. 

Because when it comes down to it, it’s nothin’ but a color and I can only be me.

1 comment:

  1. well said! because I was born in Brooklyn, NY instead of Guyana, South America, when Guyanese people meet me and find out I don't have an answer for "what part of Guyana you from", or realize I don't have a Guyanese accent, they say "Oh, you're not real Guyanese." :-/ okaaay. When I go to places like the DMV and they ask for my greencard and I say I was born here, they say "Really? You don't look it.":-/ At least two previous generations of Guyanese have been born in the US, what the heck does "you don't look it" mean? I mean really, the US is made up of how many nations? Sheesh. I hate the stereotyping.