By Kamaya Brantley
It’s almost blasphemy to hear such a phrase. But surprisingly, I’ve heard it too many times for comfort.
I remember the first time I heard someone tell me that they hated being black. I was in middle school, an all-girls academy located on the outskirts of Atlanta. Bankhead, for those that are familiar with the area’s true name. Our school had a population that seemed to be 100% black.
I could never fully wrap my head around why she would say such a thing in a place where we were all the same as each other, dealing with the same issues and not being discriminated against because of our skin.
We were all equal there.
And yet, she just couldn’t stand it. Her reasoning was that she hated how “ghetto” black people acted. She hated how they fed into the stereotypes that other people had adopted for us. She hated how they were loud, and never wanted to do better for themselves, and that she had to be roped in with such a crowd. She felt that people of other races would never accept her, and that all that they would see was another black girl that fit the stereotype.
Part of me understood where she was coming from. She was always singled out in school. She was told that she was an “Oreo.” Meaning, she was black on the outside, but “white” on the inside. She spoke with proper grammar in a place where doing so automatically made you “boujee.” She liked listening to pop and rock music, and watching anime, and doing other things that were deemed too “white” for our classmates. She felt that she would never fit in, despite having friends and family members that loved her for the person that she was no matter what.
She wanted to fit in with the other kids that weren’t black- the ones that she felt that she could identify with more due to having similar interests. But she never could. She felt that there was no use. She would always just be another black girl in the world’s eyes.
In high school, I met another girl that thought the same way for similar reasons. And in college, I met two more. For the most part, they all followed the same script. And to no surprise, I’ve heard a lot of people shaming them for how they feel.
“You ain’t s*** but an Uncle Tom,” is only one of the things that I’ve heard.
And yet, I don’t fault them for feeling the way that they do, because at the end of the day, I believe that it all boils down to them feeling like they could never fit in with their own people. It hurts to hear that black people should always support each other, when the same people always shut out their own for being too “white” for their tastes. It hurts when you get called lame for liking Taylor Swift, or a sell-out for wanting to go to a PWI rather than an HBCU to diversify your friend group. And frankly, I’m sick of hearing it.
It’s time that we stop trying to tear each other down, and focus on the real issues at hand. Racism is still very much alive. Black people are still getting shot by police officers with no real justice being served as a result.
Our people still get sent to prison for crimes that our lighter counterparts would get off with a warning for. We still get asked, “Oh, do you play a basketball or run track?” when we say that we attend the University of Georgia.
The fact that we have people that say that they hate being black shows that we have failed as a people. We need to start uplifting each other, and welcoming everyone no matter what background we all come from.
At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. And I think that that’s something that we can all agree on.