I know you’re looking at this title and thinking, ” Why is she saying that?!” I’ll tell you why! All my life people have questioned my blackness. All. My. Life. (I had to fight..I finished it for you haha). I used to let it slide. However, as I get older (and moving to Florida) has fired something in me that I have never experienced before.
Growing up, I went to an all black private school. I hadn’t fully experienced other races until the 6th grade. People have always assumed I’m mixed. From the way I speak,to the color of my skin(moving gave me a great tan), I must be half white! I used to laugh these comments off regularly but in the last few years, it hasn’t been so funny.
I was never black enough to hang with the black kids and my white friends..well a lot of their parents weren’t so keen to the idea of me being in their house. I never understood why. I kind of lived in this bubble that I could find a way to make people not think of me as black, but as a nerdy,bubbly girl. I realize how silly that is. It was definitely a survival thing. So often we do things to be accepted and don’t even realize how problematic it can be in the moment and in the future.
So often people would make jokes about black people around me and before I could even scrunch my nose at it, they almost always said ” Not you Sabrina. You’re not REALLY black.” It meant nothing to me as a teen. I would uncomfortably laugh it off. Or just walk away. But it never ended.
“You sound like a white girl!”
” Why do you talk like that?!”
“You’re acceptable to white people because no one sees you as actually BLACK.”
But see the thing is I AM. I’m ACTUALLY black. From sun up to sun down, today and yesterday, I AM BLACK. This notion that I can only sound the way I do aka like I have a brain aka like I’m educated inferring that I must be mixed is absurd. Why is it so hard to believe that I could be more than a stereotype. It’s because society leads us to believe that black people can only be a certain way. That is completely untrue. We are multifaceted and always have been.
I remember one time I was out and I was with another WOC. We were at an event and there were a group of white women who kept commenting on how well we spoke and how nice we look etc. I said to her well this is what happens to people like us. She was taken aback and very offended. In the moment, I was like why is she so mad?! But looking back I realized that I allowed people to treat me like I wasn’t black and like I could just blend in with everyone else. And that doesn’t work for most people. Why did it work for me? Honestly, it didn’t. I just got so desensitized to the commentary that I did nothing to combat it.
That changed for me in my 30’s. I regularly find myself letting people know how unfunny it is to question my ethnicity and how their perceptions of me are shrouded in veiled racism. Is everyone racist? No. Is it possible to be ignorant about things AND not know it? Absolutely!
But I realized that it isn’t my job to teach anyone why they shouldn’t ask me if my hair is real, why I listen to certain types of music, why my skin is light, why my boyfriend is white and pretty much anything that isn’t normal points in conversation.
Moving to a place with less diversity than I am used to definitely was a struggle for me in the beginning. Shit it still is sometimes. I had never gotten called the N word until I moved here. It was eye opening for sure. I hate no one. But there are people who hate me merely because I am brown. They hate me before I even speak and that’s a hard pill to swallow. But it’s a pill I don’t have to take. Learning that it’s not my job to explain myself to people is something I work on everyday.
I refuse to let anyone make me feel less than black and amazing. If you think I’m not actually black, you are sadly mistaken. I am !!!
For others who have the same experience, next time someone asks you what you are, let them know you’re black, mixed with black!
Until next time!
Photos : Harmony Lynn Photography
T-Shirt: My Pride Apparel
Booties: Smash Shoes