Being Black

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Someone once said to me, “You’re not black, Alex. You’re just like us.”
I immediately became offended and he didn’t understand why?
They thought they had paid me a compliment.
As if to say what everyone aspired to be was white.
I do not. I am not.
They simply said, “Well, you don’t act like them. You use proper English. You know what I mean.”
I was amazed.
One second we were having a conversation about Obama. The next I’m being told that neither of us is black.
And he thinks he’s paying me a “compliment”
As if, being white is far superior.
As if, all blacks are uneducated with no money and children before their fifteen.
As if, being black is a curse that people hope to rid themselves of.
I never stop being amazed at the level of ignorance that pours from people’s mouths.
Not just his, from so many others as well.
I was at work one day and an elderly couple approached my counter.
They were there to get pictures developed and somehow.
Over the course of me placing their order they decided that I was educated.
I learned this because the man said to me, “Well, since you’re educated. I have something I want to say to you.”
I laughed out loud because I am educated
And any educated person would notice the implication in that statement which is that other people like me weren’t.
He went on to say that he had grown up not knowing very many colored people.
And he never knew what to say to them.
Till he met one that was his landlord.
She was a chubby little lady with a heart of gold.
And she would tell him: You know, the most racist people are black people with money.”
He laughed as he told me this. I listened and nodded.
He then told me that Black people were not African American but colored.
After all, he’s not European American. And his ancestors lived all over the world.
At that point, I simply laughed
My name is Alex. That is what I want to be called. If you feel need to group me do so on your own time. When I describe people race is an after though. Why?
Because sometimes people’s personalities speak for themselves.
We all know people like that. The ones where all you have to say is: She’s really loud and crazy.
And everyone knows who your talking about, but I digress
After the couple left, I took a few minutes to recover.
It is hard to be nice to people who are offensive and don’t know it.
Especially when they think, they are paying you a compliment.
That’s when I began to think.
What does it mean to be black?
How is it that Oprah is not black while people who choose to not get jobs are
Why is that if you choose to be educated you’re white
Why is that if you choose to not have a baby’s mama or be one your white
It’s as if the stereotype that was created to describe me couldn’t hold me so
I had to be removed and because my characteristics are so “civilized” I can be honored with and upgrade to the white class
Why can’t I be a black women in America making her way to the top the hard way?
Why can’t I be a black women in America working her ass off to support herself?
Why do I have to be an ignorant thug to be black?
Why can’t I just be me?
I don’t fit molds. I use to want to, but now I know better.
I am ok with who I am and where I want to go in life.
I don’t need to be thrown into a category.
I don’t need to be changed. I can’t be. I WON’T be
Yet, when something bad happens or if I have an “Alex” moment.
I’m black then. When I get angry or start to swear. I’m black then.
What does it mean to be black.
I always thought it meant beautiful and brave, loving and loyal, athletic and artistic, charismatic and cultured, kind and keen.
I thought it meant human
Was I wrong? Am I wrong?
How am I black on some days and not others?
If I bumping into the KKK. They’re not going to ask me to recite the preamble.
They’re just going to hang me.
Why is it that I can judged by my skin color and receive two different verdicts.
Why is black a complement and an insult?
Why is that over a hundred years ago
When blacks were not allowed to be educated.
Our ancestors risked being beating to death to learn to read.
Why is that Fredrick Douglas fled to England upon publishing his autobiography because he knew that his owners would come after him.
Why did they fight so hard for education and freedom?
For people to now look at having those things as not being black
I am convinced that Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t black
After all, he was a college graduate. He led a movement that was felt around the world
How could someone so influential be black
Despite the fact that all the characteristics I just named are what he fought for
Who cares? What does it mean to be black?
Does the meaning change with the century?
With the mood?
Will it mean prude and egotistical tomorrow?
What does it mean?
Why did so many people fight and die for me to be confused.
What does it mean!
Does it mean pain and sorrowful, broken hearted and depressed, angry and ghetto?
Someone tell me.
I am on bended knee. Screaming up to the sky’s
Where is my answer?
Or do you not know either?
Are you just as confused as I am?
Do you too, not understand this paradox of being black?
Are you as lost as I am? As confused? As angry?
Are people placing you into a mold that does not describe you?
Are they?
Do you know what it means to be black?
Do you know what it needs to mean?
It needs to means: mother, father, sister, brother, cousin, friend, coworker, teacher, athlete, manager, actor, model.
It needs to mean bravely, persevering through all the tribulations.
It needs to mean community, sisterhood, brotherhood,
It needs to mean life and death
It needs to mean a people sharing stories of how they got through.
It needs to mean faith, hope and peace
It needs to mean a hope for a brighter tomorrow
It needs to mean change
It needs to mean equality
It needs to mean a people, of a similar culture working together to make it through
It needs to mean song
It needs to mean respect
It needs to mean you
It needs to mean me
It needs to mean us, united

 

By: Alexandra Smith

 

Alexandra Smith from China - Read Alexandra's Bio

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