Thursday, February 23, 2006

Not Black Enough Like Me

This past afternoon I got a tm from a potnah:

"According to the negroes @ work, I am white"


"They said I don't act very black and I don't dress black...other things."

I found this interesting b'cause this particular pal, to me anyway, is full of extra crunchy culuhd funk. Now, she does listen to rock, but she'd have to tell you for you to know that. For a second I thought maybe it was a work thing, but we actually got to know each other working together in Houston, so I decided that was booboo reasoning for her current cohorts.

What she is is different. I'm not sure what "dressing black" is, but I imagine they said that because she has a habit of dressing comfortably (and in pink). I've seen her in a skirt twice, and one of those times was a picture. The other doesn't count 'cuz it was this really cool joint made out wind pant material and came to just below the ball of her ankle (she wore it as a favor to the males in the office; if I remember correctly, we didn't know how to act).

She also had this thing for Hello Kitty...

And has a strange affinity for nearly middle aged, bald, hyper black men who have a penchant for performing in suits with no shirt or underpants...

She's different. In my experience my fellow color-eds have a tendency to refer to this as being not black.

In high school, when I used words with more than 3 syllables (as I was wont to do - hell, I like syllables), I was told I was talking like a white boy. Or Carlton.

I do find this "not dressing black" thing interesting. My suspicion is they say that because she doesn't dress up and probably has direct access to the only supply of non - lo-rise women's jeans in left Houston. Then there's the not having had a perm since some time in college thing...

Also interesting is that I got these messages while reading a passage in Queens about a lady in London who rocked a huge 'fro despite common disapproval (suggested reading, so suggest I).

I have been remarkably isolated for the last few years. I keep forgetting that not doing what's expected (i.e.: what e'one else does) still isn't accepted - particularly if you're Black and among other Black folk.

Not that I've never thought of someone as not being properly Black; my definition has evolved though. There are those in the world who are what people look at and call Black who have not experienced Black life/communities. Their experience is still valid as part of the pantheon of what makes up the diaspora, but I do feel that one has to actually experience it in order to be apart of it - not just be born with the physical attributes. If you've not had that experience, don't want that experience and are of African descent, that's fine. Write about it and we can file it in it's rightful place in the cultural consciousness.

Don't, however, use freedom of expression as an excuse to run from that which you've been mis-educated into believing is inferior.


  1. wow! this sounds like stuff i've heard before from my people. sad, but true!

  2. I believe you know this story - which is a favorite - - When folks would find out where I was from and respond "I thought you were ALL black"


    I'll tell you about grass skirt assumption another time.


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