25 October 2007

yes, i'm really black!

This might come as a surprise to some, but I’m black! Yes, visually, ethnically, and culturally black. Why am I telling you this? Well, it was brought to my attention that I’m not really black. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this; college was the first, but I’ve heard it off and on since then. Naturally, I was taken aback by that assessment and of course asked for clarification. The following is why I was/am perceived as not being really black.

I was born and raised in England. I moved hear when I was 15 and still have my accent. It may not be as strong in the conversational sense as it’s kind of hard to understand me on occasion, so I have to enunciate more; however, it’s still easy to detect the accent. That being said, it’s safe to assume I speak Standard English. In speaking with me on the phone, I can and have been perceived as being white because some people have a hard time realizing that blacks can and do speak without the use of Ebonics. Furthermore, there are those who still have a hard time understanding (then moreso than now) that there are blacks in England/Europe. That being said, I’m seen as aloof, bougie, or “less black” by the way I speak instead of being seen as educated, a good communicator, or just favorable to being clearly understood.

I have “White/European features”! That’s quite a newsflash to me because I’m of mixed heritage in the sense that my family is Jamaican, of Maroon (African) descent on my mother’s side with a mix of white, Arawak Indian, and Cuban. On my father’s side, I’m mixed with Arawak Indian, African, and maybe some white; the latter has never been confirmed. These races make me the person I am and my features are a result of all of them. I had no say in that fact that my nose is straight and not wide, but my paternal grandmother was part Indian; hence the feature. You get where I’m going with this.

I don’t dress black! Hmm? I had to really think about that one. I didn’t know there was such a thing for women. Brutha’s I know there is an unwritten dress code to some degree. *lol*. Anyway, in questioning this one, I was told that I wear “white branded” jeans, I don’t rock sneakers often, I wear clothes that are my size appropriate, and I style my hair in a “white” way. I found myself laughing hysterically considering, I see MANY black women with platinum blonde hair. Hmm? This perception of me really made me laugh because I’ve always dressed in a manner that suited both me alone and my personality. I don’t like trendy clothes and tend not to follow style, but rather set them. Again, I wasn’t aware that the way one dresses and the designers chosen were indicative or race.

I listen to ALL kinds of music. I listen to music for the beat yes; however, it’s the lyrical content that truly means something to me and I will listen to whatever suits me and my moods based on that. Music that calls me out my name, is misogynistic, promotes violence, trivializes and demeans sex and intimacy as something other than a beautiful experience, and whatever else that’s being spewed out, is just not for me regardless of who’s singing it.

I’ve dated outside of my race. Considering I grew up in a country were it’s truly a melting pot because there are currently more interracial relationships and biracial children that it seems like “beige” people will be the majority; I’ve always kept my options open. I like a man for who he is not what color he is. I’ve had my share of the good and bad of the races I’ve dated, but that doesn’t make black men less desirable to me. Hell, one of my future ex husbands is both black AND English. *lol*

These (mis)perceptions used to give me room for annoyed pauses, but now I simply laugh because it shows a level of ignorance of both blacks and whites. Whites have also considered me to be “less black” or “not like them” because of my features, speech, and how I carry myself. Amazing!

Anyhoo…Until I open my mouth, I’m still just another black woman who gets the crooked eye from security in a major department store or some old white lady; so it’s time to stop judging a book by it’s cover and open it instead. One might be pleasantly surprised by the content.


Darius T. Williams said...

Well - you know diversity is a many splendid thing!

Anonymous said...

I can appreciate you expressing this foolishness....this is down right pitiful....dressing a certain way doesn't warrant your ethnicity...gosh this is so so so foolish!
I've known your ethnic background and I consider you to be black...bottom line and when other cultures look at your skin color they will see you as the same...
people lack the knowledge and spew silly things.....

Suzan Abrams said...

And you're also beautiful, Blu.
Very beautiful. :-)

hawa said...

Oh good Lord. "White branded" jeans? Did anybody notice that those jeans were wrapped around the beautiful curves of a brown woman?

It's amazing what black people will value as "black." You get it for your dress, your features, your accent, and the way you carry yourself like a sophisticated lady.

I catch it for my skin shade, my attention to grammar, and hell... sometimes just for the way I walk.

For somebody (or some-BODIES) to even approach you with that garbage reveals the sickness in their own hearts. When I see you, I see a beautiful black woman. When THEY see you, I guess they only see a wall of green because envy casts a serious cloud on judgment. Id-jits.

Royce's Daughter said...

Welcome back Chica!!!

You know who you are and that is all that matters. People can be ignorant more often then not. There is no such thing as acting black or dressing black or talking black...that's part of the problem within our community...ignorance expects ignorance and when you fail to live up to the standard of ignorance you're deemed an outcast. Well let it be so...you are the living example that black is diverse, intelligent, and comfortable enough with who you are to wear whatever the hell you want to wear. That is the true face of black people...independent, intelligent, and PROUD. Continue to do you and let the Haters HATE ON!!!

Honey-Libra said...

Ok Stella ;)

Blu Jewel said...

darius - i'm diverse and proud of it.

yazmar - you're so right and that's my whole point. I look black and am black, so the foolishness needs to stop.

su - *blush* thanks

hawa - i knew this would get your knickers in a twist as we've had similar discussions. what i think is funny is that with all this "emphasis" on blackness, why are people still acting like straights in the names of their blackness?! *smh*

royce - i like what you said, "There is no such thing as acting black or dressing black or talking black...that's part of the problem within our community...ignorance expects ignorance and when you fail to live up to the standard of ignorance you're deemed an outcast." I'll be that cause the alternative doesn't seem so impressive to me.

Honey - you are just wrong for that heffa! *lol*

Blah Blah Blah said...

Ok...I had your back holding up my fist and yellin' "hell yea, power to the ppl"...until you said you dated outside your race....

I mean...I have dated puerto rican men...but I look like one so it was ok...
I dated a mexican too...bet again, I look like one...
I think you should only date ppl you look like.

Did I say something wrong?

Terry said...

Well I can't say if you sound white or not. I've never really thought about it. I just know when you're tired or excited, I can't understand a damn thing you say.

Trust me folks, my conversations with The Jewel, always have lots of, "What was that again" and "Okay, say that one more time" or "Run that by me again."

Damn British, I wish y'all would learn to speak English. *wink*

Don said...

it’s time to stop judging a book by it’s cover and open it instead. One might be pleasantly surprised by the content.

I don't know if this will ever happen, but I completely agree that people should stop judging a book by its cover and learn the words.

BeautyinBaltimore said...

To many people have a very narrow vision of what a black woman can and should be.

Wendy said...

What the heck is black enough? I can't stand when people say I "speak so proper". Like they are amazed that I can form sentences without using slang terminology.Yahmean? LOL.

Dressing Black? I have never heard that one.But is there a sale on black people clothes? LMAO

I am sooo glad you are back!

Blu Jewel said...

blah - i respect your opinion, but i will not limit myself to one pool; it's just the way i am and i'm not going to change that to suit other people.

terry - you're just a bloody nutcase you know that? and maybe YOU'RE the one who needs to learn English.

don - having a book known for more than it's cover may be a Utopian concept, but one i still entertain it and hope that there will be a "one day".

beauty - you're right and it sucks, but i won't allow myself to be pidgeon-holed by anyone.

wendy - i'm still trying to figure that out, but gave up because it's such a waste of time. as long as i know who i am; that's all that counts. LOL @ sale on "black people" clothes.

Rosemarie said...

You're beautiful just the way you are and you owe no one an explanation why you speak, dress or act the way you do.

Next time you hear some negative comments, politely lift you arm and make this gesture...talk to the hand!

Subservient No More said...

I hate those stereotypes so much, esp. the ones that say black people can only be one way and if they aren't they aren't black. You be however you want to be and be proud of your heritage.

Have you ever read Michelle Cliff by the way?

Anonymous said...

Well Amen! You know for years I had trouble adjusting to the not black enough stereotype. It was hard to be told that I was acting white because I spoke properly. *SIGH*

I'm glad that as a person you are able to see the flaws in their reasoning...it took me a while. Not sure about dating the white boys... but hey the brotha's have been dating the white girls for years and no one is saying they are less black.

Anyhow...I loved this post and continue to be a trend setter because at the end of the day your are right...the old white lady is gonna continue to mean mug you and clutch her bag as the security guard peeks around corner and you will still be a black girl, but isn't it nice to be her on your own terms? ;)