Growing up I was never “enough.” Specifically I was never black enough.
I never listened to hip-hop or dressed in the clothing people around me assumed I should. I did not grow up exposed to urban slang, besides stories my dad told me about growing up in Compton.
Modern black culture has been mainstreamed, with cultural appropriation taking the forefront. Mainstream America has taken urban culture and strung it into what they consider “entertainment” claiming it as an original idea. This has become even more obvious as 13 year old Danielle Bregoli gains a reality t.v contract from acting as if she were “from the streets.” Bregoli, a young girl form Boynton Beach, Florida, has become famous for her use of urban slang on an episode of “Dr. Phil.” Instances like this have created the sense, even more so, that black culture is being stolen by white America.
It seems important now, more than ever, to embrace what is ultimately a part of who I am. Acting as if I am “from the streets” when I am not is not the only way to appreciate black culture. That is not the only thing that defines black culture, but I believed it was for the longest time.
Instead of trying to convince people that I was black in this way I stuck with denying the fact. Never fitting in is always a struggle. Words had affected me so much that I pushed away a part of who I am because I did not talk or act the way my peers felt I was supposed to.
As I started school at HIU I decided to turn over a new leaf and embrace all aspects of my culture. I was not going to deny a part of who I was to avoid the awkward “you’re black?” questions.
The sad thing is there was no difference. If anything the comments got worse. I went from awkward conversations to flat out insults. I was there for my peer’s entertainment as they had me attempt to say slang terms mocking my “white” sounding voice. The same issues started to arise, I did not sound black, I did not act black, and so I guess I was not black.
Society attempts to put everyone in boxes, trying to categorize someone as one thing or another. These boxes, and labels put pressure on people to mold themselves a certain way and be something specific rather than encourage them to be themselves.
It is time to blur the line.
Take people out of boxes and let them be who they want to be.
This issue involves more than race, a person is built by their surroundings a change in location can change the way a person speaks, dresses, and acts. There are so many things that help define a person yet we are all so much more, that simply categorizing someone by the color of their skin or their assumed race seems barbaric.
I am enough, I will not let other people’s words make me feel otherwise.
Embrace who you are.
Do not let others force you into their stereotypes.