Is it possible to not be black enough? If so, who is creating this scale on which blackness is measured, I would like to speak to this mysterious presence. I am a black woman who more often than not is labeled “not black enough”. I was born and raised in West Philadelphia, this is considered one of the more urban destitute areas of the city of Philadelphia. However, I did not attend a school in this region, I attended a catholic school in the predominantly white township nearby. To me this seemed a totally acceptable thing, I was never informed of a rule that says if I truly want to be recognized as black by my black peers, I have to play a certain part. I have to look the part, sound the part, and represent the stereotype in all areas of my life.
Just the other day I was a having a conversation with a gentleman on my college campus, this gentleman was black. I didn’t even get a chance to complete my first sentence before he asked, “Where are you from again?” I knew exactly what was coming next. I have been asked this question countless times before in the same manner not to know where this repetitive conversation was headed. I replied, “West Philly.” He couldn’t believe it. It was impossible for anyone to come out of West Philly and sound the way I do, it was just unthinkable for a young woman to carry herself in a manner that did not conform to the the stereotype. He then proceeded to tell me I was, “way too white to be from the hood.” And just like that my black card was revoked. In an instant I wasn’t black enough for him, I was no longer a proud member of the now apparently very exclusive “black enough” club. Never mind the fact that my skin is just as black if not blacker than his. Never mind the fact that I struggle the same way he does to overcome stereotypes and discrimination on a daily basis.
I also have a teacher who is all about getting back to the motherland, and very pro-black. I’m all for that, I think you should be proud of who you are and embrace your identity. But she too, on a daily basis tries to deprive me of my blackness. She has stated several times in class that black women who wear weaves are trying to abandon our blackness and embrace something we are not – white. She believes we are subconsciously ashamed of our black identity. Uh… no! That is so not the case. Some of us just like to add a little length now and then or perhaps we appreciate the ease a weave brings as opposed to dealing with our own hair.
I find it more than interesting how some black people are so self entitled and so righteously black themselves that they can tell their own brothers and sisters that they don’t fit the part. Being articulate does not make you LESS black, wearing weave does not make you LESS black. Black is black and you are who are, embrace it and hopefully others will follow suit.
Food for thought.
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