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Not Black Enough?

I'm sure a lot of us have dealt with this, but shall we open the discussion of what is means to be Black? Biologically, it's merely due to the amount of melanin in our skin, making us darker than most people. Our facial features and bodily features vary as well, but mostly, are tied to African facial features: wider noses, fuller lips, etc.

In society, however, because we look so different, we have often been looked down upon and opressed in almost every possible way. We have arguably the worst stereotypes attatched to our race than any other race on the planet and every aspect of out lives, from dating to health care is often influenced by these stigmas. Being Black seems to mean (in society's eyes) as being loud, dumb, violent, ignorant, impoverished, a leech on the system and so much more, even leading to more stereotypes about specific skin tones and genders.

But what happens when you don't fit the stereotype? What happens when you are educated, peaceful, and intelligent? People often accuse you of not being "Black enough." I've heard this crap my entire life and as a kid, I wanted to prove to the kids that said I "acted white" that I could fit in with other black people. So I behaved in the way I felt I should in order to be accepted. Eventually, I stopped and I'm glad I did.

What really hurts me is that this stigma exists in our own communities. We've been told we are these horrible things for so long that we can't even see dark skin and low intelligence seperately. Why have we stopped thinking that education and a life out of poverty was only for white people?

In order for us to ever overcome these negative stereotypes, and make a better future for amazing Black people of all skin tones and both genders everywhere, is to realize that we are so much more that we've been told. We have to change out perception of ourselves and then others will follow our example.

Thanks for reading!
StartingOvr18 StartingOvr18 18-21, F 13 Responses Dec 6, 2012

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I remember this boy said that I was "so white" because I was being polite to someone

Well said! I'm just like you. I'm well educated, I speak good English, and most of my friends aren't Black. I had a bad experience in high school because other students accused me of "not being Black enough" but then I switched to another school where I was accepted for who I am and I wouldn't have it any other way. Thank you for sharing your story.

It ****** me off that our own communities act so ignorant, i don't know if you know this but the term "Uncle Tom" has been misinterpreted negatively for years.

Ive experienced this alot growing up.

Go you! Strong people have no colour or all colour

Haha, thanks!!

Have you ever encountered black people who get angry with you for talking about your experience? Whenever I try to talk about this issue, people get angry and defensive and try to make me out to be a liar. I've even been told that I thought I was "special."

Not really angry, but just indignant. They usually tell me that there is only one way a black person is supposed to act, and it's not like "a white person." A lot of black people feel threatened by other black people that don't act steretypically black because it may seem like we are a little closer to reaping the benefits of white privilegde by acting like them. But that's not true. At the end of the day, we're all black and face the same struggle. I just wish people would notice that.

I agree with everything you said. I must add that there are also some white people who feel threatened by black people who don't act stereotypical. I have been told a few times by white classmates that they act "blacker" than me. And have also had some try to "put me in my place." It just makes me feel bad because both whites and blacks seem to treat me as an outcast. Even my biracial classmates distance themselves from me because of colorism. I don't look white enough for them.

While in college I found a group of blacks who were similar to me, but soon found out that they were faking it because they simply hate being black and thought that acting "white" would make them different. I was disgusted. Its very hard to find other blacks that I can just talk to and have something in common with. When I do stumble across someone who isn't stereotypical, I have to question whether they are being genuine. Its very frustrating. Did you experience something similar? Sometimes I just hate people.

I totally agree with you. I often have had white teachers and other adults tell me how articulate I am and they seem surprised by that. And it honestly ****** me off when white people tell me they are Blacker than I am, especially when I was in middle school and high school. It infuriated me because whatever "being Black" is, it needs to be redefined.

You can always message me by the way. I can relate to your experiences :)

Not Black enough! I wonder what Barack Obama had to experience in negative comments? Black in America is singing dancing and either throwing a punch in a ring tossing a basketball through a hoop or running down an expansive field with football. These things are wonderful but let's face it you don't need a very high I.Q. to attain them I agree with you we need trained people like research scientists inventors and design engineers wouldn't it be amazing if a Black man or woman designed a space rocket engine that could travel at light speed? I'm tired of seeing acres of entertainers stepping out on American Idol when will we see brilliant and creative Black people on the cover of Science Digest? When oh when Africa America?

Augh! I just kept nodding all throughout your post. In our culture we always seem to see our people succeed in the entertainment industry, but rarely are those of us that are doctors, lawyers or engineers looked upon with as much esteem as a rapper or pro athlete. There was a song once that said you either leave the hood in a casket or a Bentley and I feel there is so much truth to that. For obvious reasons, we just don't seem to feel as though we can achieve success through education or anything like that because all of the Black people we see on TV have the type of careers that don't require one at all. That leads young people to think that in order to have a carefree life of luxury or even comfort, the entertainment industry is literally the only option.

It breaks my heart.

i most certainly relate. i wrote the 'stereotype' story. mine pertains to musical taste. it is terrible that some of are people want to stereotype each other. it could be the 'crab' syndrone. nobobody is exactly the same.

I also went through what you did. I went to an all black school and was bullied for not being "black enough". They even thought I was lying a out being black. I knew deep down that I wasn't 100% black. But honestly, who really is? I was put down constanlty. Even got the old nick name "white girl". All because I liked different kinds of music, movies, I talked proper and my body shape wasn't "black enough". Black men didn't like me. They bullied and sexually assaulted me. You shouldn't have to feel sorry for being who you are. What you like and love. It is what it is. And if people can't accept that, then that is their problem.

I'm sorry you've had to deal with such ignorance. Many Black people seem to feel like liking other things that don't involve the things in our stereotype is conforming to society rather than a form of self expression. Just love who you are and the right people will respect that. :)

Thank you

WOW ..I'm was blessed not to have to face this issue if it is really an issue. Where does this happen? Where is everyone from?

It is really an issue and you are quite fortunate for not having to experience it. There is no particular place this occurs because it happens everywhere. Most Afrian Americans experience this, and I wrote this from an African American perspective.

I don't think most African Americans experienced this on a broad scale. I grew up in a large project complex in New Haven, CT. I read a lot and spoke very good English and was never criticized for speaking that way by other black people. However one white teach did say to my mother that I did not speak like the other children and was threaten by it.

When I grew up everyone was proud to be black and skin tone was never an issue between black people. We were all very confident about our heritage which I can not say today.

I went through what you been through too. I totally agree with you 100%. Even grown older black people told me to be proud of my heritage because I spoke proper, didn't act like an idiot. I was bullied because I apparently act white, and even my friend who was white patronized me for acting "white". Then I had a friend tell me I wasn't black because I didn't have many "black people" music in my MP3 player, but it doesn't matter because I know I'm black and I'm proud of all the black people who made a difference, note they were very intelligent people :)

I hate the term "black music" sometimes because it suggests that rap is our only musical option and I've definitely heard that one. But yeah, good to know I'm not alone in my frustration lol

That's the problem I have. As a race we seem to embrace our negative stereotypes. Even so called educated blacks subscribe to these notion in some way.

Yeah, I think it's human nature to focus more on the negatives for some reason. It seems like we lose either way. If we try to act stereotypically Black, we reinforce the stigma, if we try to be different, we're seen as not being proud of our culture. It's a headache sometimes :/

I agree. It's like this ideal that being people make intelligent or successful is not "black"- it as if black people themselves have internalized the ideal that Black people are nothing more than those very stereotypes at heart and to be something greater is to SOMEHOW give up one's cultural and ethnic identity.

It's a shame to see that anyone believes that.

It's even worse when a community (even a part of it) believes it about itself.

I totally agree and thanks for your reply.
This something that has bothered me for a long time, but I don't even know where to begin in fixing the problem.

I think you have a point. And this is relatively new because when I was growing up being positive had everything to do with being black since whenever a crime was committed by a black person" black was emphasized. But when a white person committed a crime it was not and that is how we knew it was a white person.

We use to have the black expo at we were exposed to positive images of black people. It was not a time to discuss social ills like you will find at black expos today.

We even had a parade call the Freddy Fixer which was the largest Black Parade in New England in which people from all over would come to enjoy. They have been trying to keep it going but the violence and have dressed women, and other stupid things just ruined it.

I blame rape (rap) music starting with NWA for this shift towards being negative as a way to fight the negative things that happened to us.