“You Sound Like a White Girl”

I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood. Which also meant that I didn’t grow up in the stereotypical hood that America thinks all black people come from. I was the only black person in class for most of my elementary education. I grew up in city-suburbia and not the inner-city. I have been reading on my own since the tender age of 2. I inhale books like competitive eaters devour food. I wrote my first book in the first grade. I may not be the most eloquent person, but I know my way around a dictionary. My Grandmother kept 2 enormous dictionaries in the house just so I could look up words she used that I didn’t understand. I knew what lackadaisical meant by the time I was 7.

Keep in mind that I grew up in New England. When my Grandparents moved us out to the midwest while I was in middle school, I was surrounded by black/brown people. More than what I had experienced back home. I got bullied for how I wore my hair, what I wore, and most of all, how I spoke.

“Why do you talk so proper? You sound like a white girl.” I cannot even count how many times I heard this in middle school and even into my high school days. The fact that black people associate a good education and literacy as a solely white attribute is just another example of systematic oppression. The fact that other black people told me that by using my words and having articulate control was me emulating a ‘white girl’ is proof that the black community has been brainwashed to think that we are less than our white counterparts.

For some reason, we have it in our heads that education can only be obtained if your skin is white. For one reason or another, the is a double standard within our own community. We are pressed to seek education as our salvation from societal slavery but then we are stereotyped into the category of “trying to be white.”

This is insulting to the entire black community.

I am a black woman. I am fluent in English and African-American Vernacular (AAV). Because of where I come from and how I grew up, I know that there is a time and a place for AAV (more commonly known as Ebonics). I learned from a young age the importance of making other people feel comfortable. It was important for my survival. And still is.

My Grandmother raised me to speak my mind–she did not raise a fool. At the same time, she taught me that there is a certain way one can express themselves with dignity. We don’t have to show our behind every time we want to get our point across.

It is infuriating to be told that I sound like a white woman. What does that even mean? What is sounding white, exactly? What is sounding black, for that matter? We are all speaking English.

I have begun wondering if the way I speak is seen as a threat or betrayal to my peers. The way I look at it, Massa didn’t want us to read because they knew that black people built this country and if they had the tools, they could take back what was theirs. The same is true about today’s America. Black and Brown people built this country. America was built on stolen land with free labor.

If we appropriately equip and educate ourselves, we can take back the Throne. Our ancestors blood is in this soil and I’ll be damned if I let it be in vain.

Moral of the story: Eff your stereotype. I speak like a well-read black woman.

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Perspective Is Everything

I am not a perfect person. Nor have I ever believed myself to be. I was not born with a Crown on my head. I earned it. I was not born Strong–I EARNED my Phoenix Wings. Contrary to popular belief, I have NEVER been handed anything. I have ALWAYS had to WORK for what I wanted. But still I am ridiculed for my decisions, my actions. I am called selfish and careless. I am many things–selfish and careless are not who I am.

I have grown up feeling like I don’t belong anywhere. That feeling has stuck with me into adulthood. As a kid, watching my cousins leave to go home was always painful for me. They were going home with parents. Mine were gone. I can remember a specific argument I was having with one of my cousins where they exclaimed “at least I have a mom!” Granted, we were just kids, but that still hurt.

I grew up living in the shadow of my Mother’s Goodness. All I ever heard about was how much of a selfless, caring person she was–how Good she was. Whenever I was acting up (ie, being a kid) the adults in my family used to throw it in my face that I would never–could never– be like her. I was “hateful,” and “just like my father.” From the beginning, I was made to feel worthless and never good enough. I always felt second best. Never good enough. My Mom had bigger shoes than I could fill. I think, to some extent, that this is why my demeanor is so intimidating to people–it made me hard.

My Grandparents were hard on me. Harder than I think other people around me realized. Nothing ever came easy for me. From the outside, it looked like I was spoiled. But behind the glass, I was working overtime trying to keep up with the standard that my Mother had set for me.

Throughout my teenaged years I had a very hard time believing that I was beautiful. I was always being told that I had an attitude problem, that I was rude. Yet during those years I made a conscious decision to never lie because I had seen what it had done to my family. If being honest makes me rude, then I guess it is what it is.

Still, as adult I am in a race with Ghosts. I’m still trying to be good enough to be my Mother’s daughter. I’m still trying to make my Grandparents proud.

I have been labeled as a selfish, heartless bitch on more than one occasion. And for a good while, I believed all the negative things people said about me. My point is, people will judge you regardless of what you do and who you are. The important part is that you know who you are inside and what you stand for.

Eleanor Roosevelt said “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” There is a lot of truth in that statement. True happiness lies within yourself. I have learned that what others think of me will not make me happy. I know who I am and that’s really all that matters.

I am a smart, giving young woman. I give more than I receive and don’t typically expect things in return. I want to see people do good. I’m trying to help everyone glow up. But at the same time, I have walls up and  I won’t sit and be played.

I am quick to call people out on their BS and many people simply can’t handle the truth. And that’s okay. That just means we’re at different walks of life. Some of us have more growing to do than others.

Perspective is everything. In this day and age, we are so easily judged by how we look and what we post on social media. People are so quick to shout injustice but are so easily offended when called out.

I don’t believe that I am a bad person. I refuse. I strive everyday to be great. I want to be RICH. Rich in love, life, and laughter.

Moral of the story: Only God can judge me.