By Denver Ellison
Imagine that you walk into a room that is full of people in the race that you associate with. But instead of being judged by the content of your character, you are judged by the way that you speak and carry yourself. Unfortunately, this is exactly what has happened to me over the course of my life.
Many people will tell me that I do not act like the “typical black girl.” They follow this comment up by saying that I act as if I am white. I used to just let it go, but as I got older it seemed to bother me more and more. It seemed that I could not escape that mindset no matter where I went and who I was around. Now, instead of ignoring those who say that, I dare them to explain their reasoning behind the “acting white” comment.
The most common reason people give when telling others that they “act white” is because of how a person may speak. Apparently enunciating your words and using correct grammar at all times is enough for someone to lose their racial identity. Instead of getting praised for how well someone may speak, they can be reprimanded and scolded.
I recall an incident where the mother of a friend of mine went as far as to call me “a little white girl” because of how I speak. Of course she did not realize that by saying those things to me, she was insinuating that black people are not supposed to talk proper. Even though she is a black woman, she chose to succumb to the stereotype that black people do not and cannot speak proper English.
Just in case you have not heard, the type of music you listen to can play a role in determining your race as well. It is so strange to me that the type of music a person listens to can have such a profound effect on how they are categorized in society. It seems that many in our society believe it is atypical of black people to enjoy anything outside of R&B or rap.
Those that do are looked at as weird and trying to be white. Why does someone have to be white to enjoy listening to Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, or Brad Paisley? Just take a second and think about it.
There are many African American students at our University that like to put down other black students because of who they choose to hang out with, what they wear, and how they act. This type of put down of other black people because of how they choose to carry themselves is not something I can wrap my mind around.
Those who do this should understand that they are acting as though all black people should go about their lives in the same way. We should all hang out together, talk the same, go to the same parties and school functions. I understand that we are minorities on a predominantly white campus, but we should all respect and appreciate the unique features of one another. We cannot all act the same way because we did not all grow up the same way.
The phrase “acting white” has such a negative effect on our society. It perpetuates stereotypes about black people and even other minorities. We should not place beliefs on how people should talk and act based off of their race. As future leaders in American society, we all need to make efforts to change our thought processes and hopefully change the thought processes of others.
It is important for us to stop making assumptions about how we expect people to act. If we cannot do that, then we should at least aim to stop making others feel as though they are trying to be something they are not.