“Mom, why didn’t God give black girls naturally straight hair?” I sadly asked my mom at a very young age, twirling my fingers through my 4c hair. There were many stages in my life that pushed me faster into molding myself into how I was supposed to act instead of how I wanted to be.
You see, I have been a member of the oreo community for most of my life, and it wasn’t until halfway through my high school career that I entirely rejected this. It was a truly ignorant and frustrating experience, to know that despite my hot-chocolate complexion, I wasn’t considered black—whether it was the music I liked, the people I liked, etc. It was frustrating and still is to a certain extent today.
It’s never been my place to tell people who they should be. In fact, that would contradict one of my core beliefs: being unapologetically me. However, that didn’t matter throughout my younger years. I was constantly judged by the way I talked and the artists I liked, like One Direction. Take K-pop, for instance, and all of the fans who happen to be an entirely different race. The phenomenon has led to hashtags on Twitter for black K-pop fans, or any artist that shows black fans of an artist with a predominantly white fan base.
Deadass, facts, or any slang that my speech lacked at the time, lead to another popular question: “Why do you talk white?” No, I didn’t and don’t sound like the Queen of England, yet speaking “properly” somehow correlates to sounding educated, in their minds—it was pretty much a backhanded compliment. When I use slang, I sound like a mom trying to fit in with her daughter’s teenage friends (yikes). Teaching myself how to do the Dougie or simply dancing well, in general? Both fails. So, I was stuck in the middle and didn’t do too much.
My confusion shifted to internalizing—I started slightly “correcting” my speech, slipping in some slang and adding more Migos on my playlist. But it didn’t feel authentic to me at all, and everyone could see that. Turns out, I liked enhancing my playlist because my taste in music is an intercultural time machine. I also learned that people of different races embrace—and sometimes appropriate—black culture. I eventually realized that the accusations coming to me were laughably ridiculous. So, I shifted to the final stage that will hopefully never go away: existing. Living my life as a Caribbean woman in any way I choose.
No matter who you are, you’ll naturally gravitate to it. Just as I constantly change my hairstyle, there’s not just one type of black person, and I shouldn’t feel the need to act that way to be considered black (shocking, I know). Part of me holds on to that judgment, but it helps to see that my generation has done a good job contradicting these stereotypes. My taste in entertainment and how I express myself is like my hair; it comes in many forms.
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