Photo of Four Persons Uniting Hands

“Why we do it.”

on the defensive

Coolest Monkey in the Jungle was the phrase on the hoodie of a young Black child in an H&M ad this year. African Americans, not many others, but us in America took offense. Now what’s interesting is that the boy’s mother pushed back against the backlash. She stated that, “She was not offended, and it’s her son.” So you have to think to yourself as an African American, why are Image result for coolest monkey in the junglewe so quick to jump to the defense of other melanin people? Even when the people themselves are willing to distance themselves from our defense of them. Is it because we don’t want the image of ourselves to be lumped into the Black that accept these labels? Or could it be we understand the issues of that child wearing that hoodie, or any other situation?

i’m me and you’re you

African Americans tend to want to jump to the defense of others that look like us worldwide. But let’s observe the lack of wanting to be connected. We share the same skin color as so many others, but why are we looked as different. Could it be that color is merely social constructs that are different other places? Or, are we looked at because of culture in America and not ethnicity? Because I have heard Africans state that we are no where near the same. But where did we come from, outer space? It’s culture that creates the you versus me; even though a lot of our culture here in America is adopted even places of others tend to see us in a different light.

fall back, let them be

As African Americans, we are too quick to jump and defend. And at times, are looked at with this disdain when we ourselves feel we are helping. So you have to start to say to yourself, “I’m going to fall back off of this one.” “Let them be, and deal with the issues on their own.” Because jumping up and defending may not always be the solution, especially if we’re going to be looked at like, “Oh, we’re not you, and you are not us.” Yet, when White men and women attack issues effecting Black people outside America, it’s embraced. And if that is seen as not true, it feels deep down that there is a difference. So what we need to do is go, you know what, let’s see how this plays out.

i’m deeply thankful

On the flip-side of not wanting to connect, you still have those that appreciate the push to help. When the London bombing took place last year and leaders from around the world gathered, I thought to myself, you rarely if ever see this as a result of terrorists attacks in Africa. It’s because to so many, ” that’s what they do.” To speak up and say something by an ethnic group that Woman in Multicolored Halter Dress Carrying Childbares the resemblance, knowing your struggles being melanin and few care is important. But I guess to each is own when standing up for another person.

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Image result for black pride

“Do you ever feel like it’s hard being you?”

“Oh, it’s too Black!” “You don’t act Black!” These are a couple of the phrases I’ve heard in my life regarding to my ethnicity. Trying to stay true to yourself is difficult when you are an African American. Because to the White men and women, you’re too Black. And as it pertains to Black people you’re not Black enough. I have had to deal with this tug of war since childhood, and now adulthood. When you’re working in a place of employment, chances are it’s around mostly White, you walk this fine line. You’re usually putting on this face that is nowhere near who you really are outside of work. Then there are the Black people who don’t seem like they quite fit into their own group. Usually demonstrating unfamiliar understandings of certain cultural references because of interest that are different than the group.

For me, I am big on culture; not just African American culture, but any other culture as well. Growing up in my mother’s house, she not only encouraged us, but forced us into environments where people were different than yourself. She knew something we didn’t, and that is if you want to be able to succeed in this society, you need to be able to communicate with different groups of people. It didn’t matter if we were spending the day at the library, or the schools where we received our educations. Diversity was encouraged, which was something that I didn’t see in my immediate environment. A lot of the kids hung around those that look like them, talked like them, dressed like them, even ate the foods they ate. Unlike them, in our household you were encouraged to try new music, food, and clothes.

Now you ask, what does any of this have to do with being Black. Well, a lot because like I said before, there is this tug of war. You’re caught in between two worlds. The world of my immediate surroundings, such as my community which is Black. And then there is the daily workplace which consists of predominantly White. So, with me, I have a pride in Black culture, but that pride tends to come at a cost of making a White constituency uncomfortable. Yet on the other hand, I enjoy the pleasures of taking part in activities or subscribing to certain forms of thinking that do not align with the Black community or certain agendas within it. For instance, I love 90’s hip hop and 80’s rock and roll. What an interesting combination of Death Row Records, No Limit, and Bad Boy, with a touch of Aerosmith, Motle Crue, and ACDC.

But being me is more than just the food I eat and music I listen to through my iPod. It’s not something I am aspiring to be, nor is something that I’m trying to play a role within. Being Black is a shared experience. It’s a feeling, the way you think and breathe. It’s walking up the street, coming in contact with a troublesome situation and giving the head nod to one another. An action that has long been associated with hip and cool, yet is a sign that we understand the situation and I’m looking out like you looking out. Being Black is finishing quotes like, “God is good all the time and all the time God is good.” “It’s knowing what is really meant by wading in the water and lift every voice.” It’s knowing why Black women really love the utility of wearing their hair in braids or dreads and the first thought that crosses your mind as a Black man as you come in contact with the police.

You see, in the end, when someone ask me about acting Black, I shake my head. Why? Because you can’t act Black. Ever act Chinese or how about acting Russian. Ever been told stop acting Native American. Usually when told you’re acting Black there is a negative connotation which is more of a back-handed, under-handed, and over-handed smack to the face. I don’t aspire to be, I just am. It’s not an article of clothing nor is it a particular genre of music. It’s not eating certain food or conversing with a certain vernacular. It’s Educated, check; respectable, check; law abiding, check; driven, check; ambitious, check; and most imitated, double check. I never, nor have I ever felt I needed to rise to any level of Blackness because I am Black and Black is I.