I was recently discussing with my best friend how I feel about “being black.” Actually, I don’t consider myself as “black” given my Irish, Jamaican and Indian heritage. It’s bothersome that we are summed up to be a color rather than a culture. What even hurts more is that there is racism not just between whites and blacks, but it is very prevalent within the black community. How you may ask? Well, there are some who distinguish between light-skinned and black-skinned blacks. And within that subclass I wouldn’t be black enough.
What does it mean to be black? In recent sports news NFL football player Robert Griffin III was, according to commentator Rob Parker, accused of not being black enough due to his eloquent (for a black person) speech, his demeanor, and his choice in women. To say that a person, a person of a specific skin tone is less inclined to be “white” is ridiculous. I understand stereotypes. Considering that I’ve lived in the South for the past 23 years one can’t not understand stereotypes. Sure, sometimes they’re comical and sometimes they even seem to be true, but a stereotype does not define a race or a person.
A few months before my 10th birthday, our family moved to Georgia. Having lived in Jamaica for most of the prior years, it was a culture shock when trying to acclimate myself with living stateside. My mother, concerned about my heavy-tongued patois, made it clear to me that I would have to speak proper English. For me it felt like I was also giving up a part of my Jamaican culture and heritage, but I know better now. Because I did not speak ebonics, couldn’t associate with southern black culture, and was “light-skinned” others of my own race often ridiculed me. But that was just it, I wasn’t like them — not because of any other reason than that my culture was not their own.