On Not Being “Black Enough”
Updated: Nov 22, 2020
Growing up, I was a pretty nerdy kid. I watched anime. I listened to K-pop (and I still do), and I was a very eloquent speaker for my age. I liked to read mangas and books about superheroes after school, and I loved to draw and write.
I loved these things, not because I hated my race or my culture, but because I found a genuine interest in them, and they gave me comfort. Growing up in a majority Latino community and going to a majority black school, I was surrounded by people who looked like me. In fact, I did not have any white friends until high school.
Regardless of these factors, I was still told by my peers that I, a black girl, was simply not “black enough” and that I “talked white.” As a kid, I never understood what this meant, and I never took what the other kids and adults told me seriously. Though I was constantly told that I “was not black,” I was still listening to 2NE1, and I was still drawing anime characters in my math notebook.
As I grew older, I started to realize how normalized it was for our community to feed into the stereotypes placed onto us by the media, to the point where those who do not or choose not to fit into those stereotypes are painted as “white.”
If you speak eloquently, then you are “white.” If you listen to certain types of music or watch certain TV shows, then you are “white.” If you play certain sports, then you are “white.” If you are LGBT, then you are “white.”
These labels that we have used to divide ourselves for so long are rooted in white supremacy, as they imply that intelligence and other characteristics equate to “whiteness.” They also reinforce the stereotype that black people should only engage in “black activities,” while white people should engage in “white activities,” whatever that may mean.
Fortunately, as our community has shifted the definition of what it truly means to be black in this country, we have slowly removed these negative labels.
I am grateful that I can grow up in an era that values all black people. The nerdy black kid, the goth black kid, the hood black kid, and the trans black kid all have a seat at the table, and I absolutely love it. However, it is important to recognize that we still have work to do.
We must all realize that no matter what you listen to or what your hobbies are, your black stories, your black struggles, and your black joys are all valid. I implore you to continue to be yourself and to be an important part of your community, because at the end of the day, we are all united.