When you imagine a typical black girl, what do you picture? Well, if you look in the media you’d probably imagine a woman in braids or with a fro. Maybe someone who rolls her neck, have a name that difficult (or spelled in a not so typical way. Maybe you imagine someone loud or angry? Maybe someone overtly sexual and can dance or twerk? Maybe someone who’s a democrat. Well sorry to burst your bubble but I’m none of those things. I’m natural (meaning no perm) but I hate having nappy and frizzy hair. I prefer mine to be straight. I can’t dance. I can’t do my own hair. I’m not angry or mean at all. I’m not the ghetto girl who’s the butt of jokes or to say stuff like “PERIOD” (I hate that work). I prefer my nails to be short and plain. I don’t listen to rap all that much (I mean hello, Jonas Brothers anyone?). I’m the alternative black girl.
A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with my bff Nkem (from For tha Masses) and we were discussing how it felt when we were growing up. You see, first of all let me just say that middle school is hard for anyone. But it was in middle school when we got closer as friends and we were kind of out of the loop of a lot of things “black”. Please allow me to explain.
When I was a little girl (actually just growing up period) I lived in a mixed neighborhood. My neighbors were a mix of black, white, and latinos. I lived in a house with a big back yard and big front yard.The school I went to had a nice mix of children and my friends were from all races and ethnicities. During school breaks, we’d travel. Go to Disney, Universal, and visit family all over the country, we even went to Niagra Falls. I was a Brownie scout, went camping, and grew up pretty comfortable (upper middle class). I wasn’t spoiled (trust there were tons of things I wanted but was told “no” quite often) but I had a pretty good childhood, materially.
My grandfather didn’t grow up with lots of money. Hell, when his family came from the Bahamas, my great-grandfather helped to build up the Coconut Grove neighborhood when they came to Miami. When my grandfather was an adult, he joined the Air Force and traveled the world. He went to Florida A&M University and then eventually ran the water and sewage for Miami Dade county. The money that he saved up and earned, he enjoyed it to the fullest. He made sure that his children didn’t have a want for anything. Same went for his grand children. He taught me to look beyond my surroundings. To try new things out. To socialize with others. How to carry myself out in public.
I wasn’t allowed to hang out with the other kids my age from certain parts of the nieghborhood. Now don’t get me wrong, I took dance lessons in my neighborhood and I met some of the other girls who lived in my area, I just didn’t feel that I had much in common with them. Besides, I was always timid and shy and so I mainly kept to myself. The other girls though, they were interested in other stuff and they came from a lower socioeconomic background. Before you get on me about that, let me say that coming from that type of background does not make you a bad person. Hell, my bff came from a background like that. They just had other interests than I did. And tbh, a lot of them had babies early so that shows where their minds were in middle and high school.
Me on the other hand? I loved N’sync and Backstreet Boys. Of course we had magazines like Ebony, Jet, Black Enterprise, Essence and Sister to Sister, but I preferred magazines like CosmoGirl and Seventeen. My favorite station was Y-100, a radio station that played pop and rock songs. Me and Nkem (my bff) fell in love with Blink 182 (I had a crush on Tom and she had a crush on Mark) and Limp Bizkit (we had a fake rock group called Blimp Cookies…I’m not kidding).
I remember one day we were in science class, secretly listening to music. We were listening to a rock song as we each shared an ear bud and the girl (a black girl) literally sitting at our table asked the teacher if she could move because we were weird. Her words not ours. Why were we weird? Was it because we chose to listen to rock music and not rap? Middle school was also our time to branch out and meet new people. Our new friends weren’t all black but who cared? We were around like minded individuals. As we continued to go on to high school, again, we were made fun of because we weren’t into the typical “black” things. That just wasn’t our style.
Normally, someone might feel alone and alienated but we had each other. We understood each other. High school was rough but not as rough as middle school was. The kids I was friends with were mainly in Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes. the majority of the black kids were in regular classes. I took mainly AP and Honors classes. Since the higher you went up, the lower our (black kids) numbers dwindled, I made friends with the white girls and Latinas. It was also a time when I secretly began to like non black guys. I kept it a secret because I wasn’t sure how people would react. Now of course, I just don’t care. But at the time, I felt ashamed. I guess I thought others would judge me for it.
I saw a lot of the girls I grew up with have babies early. They were teen moms. Maybe it was due to their environment. They obviously had other “extracurricular activities” going on while I simply did my homework and read books. I was raised in a strict household too, which did help some. I had no desire to go have sex, listen to raunchy music, or go to wild parties. My focus was on books, school, trying to go away for college. Did I want to date or did I want guys to find me pretty? Of course! Like who didn’t? I was dreaming of what I wanted for my future. The type of life I wanted to live.
As I went to college, I was challenged in a lot of ways. First of all, like I said, I’m shy and timid. I started hanging out with my family and yeah there were times I felt annoyed but there were good memories too. Listening to rock music, watching nerdy shows like “Doctor Who” and watching all the Potter films. It was when we branched out when I felt uncomfortable and just didn’t want to be around. Wild house parties wasn’t my thing. Going to really ghetto parties and events made me feel really annoyed. I’m not not pro-black or anything but like being around a bunch of black people was kind of hard for me. I didn’t feel comfortable honestly. I’m not prejudiced against my own race but for someone who was used to being in a diverse environment, it was a lot to take in.
I just didn’t fit in and I was super quiet. I felt more comfortable in a more diverse environment. Like take schooling, everyone knows I attended the Florida State University but I actually applied for FAMU. It wasn’t in the cards for me (I did get in actually). It just wasn’t meant to be for me to attend the school. By the way, FAMU is a great school. From what I’ve observed, they will teach you about someone black, no matter the subject. It instills a sense of black pride in all their classes and I cannot hate on that. I just know, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable there. I needed a more diverse school. I even wanted to join two D9 sorority. I won’t say which ones but if I didn’t feel comfortable being in a setting with all people, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable in a lifelong group of all black women. I want diversity.
Before someone say that I’m shitting on all things black, think again. I love being black. I just don’t love others putting black people in a box knowing that we’re not all the same. Does it make me upset when I see an article or news report that paints black people in a bad light? Yes. Do I get mad when black folks act ignorant and live up those negative stereotypes people have about us? Also yes. I hate it when people assume I’ll vote a certain way because I’m black. I hate when they assume that I’ll fight them if they say the wrong thing or whatever. For example, one time this guy said I cut him off at a stop sign (which I totally didn’t) and he followed me to my friend’s house, accused me of trying to hit him and then was like “look I’m not trying to fight don’t hit me” like dude excuse you? Is this what people really think when they see someone who looks like me? I walked away feeling sad.
Who wants to be seen as someone difficult? As someone who’s going to commit a crime? As someone who doesn’t deserve fair treatment? To be totally honest: it’s those stereotypes that I see on TV that scares me of being in a large group of black folks. I feel bad about it. I’m not proud of it. I hate going into certain neighborhoods. I don’t go to black salons or black churches, I’m just not comfortable. I don’t even read books with all black characters. I just don’t think I’ll connect with any of the characters. I’m going to work on breaking down that wall. I will work on that, I promise. I mean hell, there will be people who will unfairly judge me. I can’t do anything about that. But I can do something about how I react: calm, cool, and collective.
I’m totally a basic bitch. I love lattes, UGGS, leggings, Target. I’m very soft spoken. I like white guys! I love listening to Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Doja Cat, and Jonas Brothers. I love watching anime and all the nerdy things. I didn’t struggle when I was growing up, which side note: I hate seeing a lot of stories when people of color have struggled and had such a hard life and is now successful. Like I get it but not all of us struggled or had troubled backgrounds. Can we see more stories from people of color coming from a middle class backgrounds or with both parents in their life (rant over)? I’m not your average black girl and I’m so cool with that. It what makes me unique. I’m proud of who I am.
If you feel like you just don’t fit in anywhere, know that you’re not alone. Really! There are people you can connect with online. You can join groups for things that interests you. Go where you are celebrated and not tolerated. Be proud of who you are and never forget where you came from. Life is great when you’re totally comfortable with yourself.
By the way, check out this video from The Pink Pill. I think she explains things better than me.