My whole life, the statement, “You don’t act black” has followed me, even into my adulthood. My response (in my head of course 😅) would be “What’s acting black? Black’s a color cjemor (love) 😄. Ta-ta (good-bye)!” 👋🏾, as I walk away shaking my head and rolling my eyes 🙄.
Every time someone said that phrase to me, a bunch of middle fingers would pop up in my mind. I’ve heard this phrase from black people, from white people, even latinos (or latinx if that’s more suitable). Last I recall, my skin is what many would like to associate to as “black“. Some days, I’ll get mocha or nutella 😎, but regardless, my skin’s still considered “black” to much of the world.
I know that black usually describes a color, but how does it describe my persona? I have no shame in being black (as in my complexion), but what is acting black?
Thanks to the manipulation of media, a lot of the world has been programmed. Programmed to feel a certain way towards people of color. Programmed to think that all Blacks with dreads are criminals. Programmed to believe all Mexicans are drug dealers who can’t speak English. Programmed to believe that all Muslims from the Middle East are suicide bombers. Due to these stereotypes, we prejudge people based upon their skin and appearance. We automatically have a pre-notion of how the person is going to behave based upon color and appearance. It makes sense why I used to get told that I don’t act “black”, because according to most stereotypes about black people (based more in America), I’m not seen as that stereotypical “black” girl you would see on TV. People who feed into those stereotypes, believe that ALL black girls are loud, always fighting, and not really that educated. They believe our careers are most likely within sports, entertainment, or something low-income. These stereotypes have caused many in society to develop a mentality that thinks this is how “ALL” black people carry themselves. Due to this mentality, our black culture is seen as monolithic even though the African Diaspora is rather diverse. I could never understand how people could tell me I’m not “black” when the black culture has no end. Even though I suffer through some of the same trials and tribulations as other people that are black, somehow, I’m not black. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
How can I be mad at others for defining black a certain way when they’re so use to being shown a certain part of their culture? The black culture is usually depicted in a negative light. We see it in music, on TV shows, yet we just accept the culture. We don’t question it, we don’t discuss it. That’s what we know “black” to be, a culture of negativity. Not saying there isn’t positivity within the culture, but the culture is unbalanced. The cons of the culture outweigh the pros.
The internet has its pros and cons, but one of the pros is being able to see other parts of the black culture that you’re not used to seeing. Internet is a major key in shifting the culture and mind-frames of the generations to come. Thank’s to the internet, we get to see sides of our culture that we weren’t ever exposed to. We have access to parts of our history that we were denied access to for so long. We have an opportunity to enhance the black culture, be more accepting of diversity within our culture, be open to others’ cultures, and not treating anyone differently because they don’t fit the stereotype. We can change the definition of black by influencing a more positive culture. ”Once you change the culture, you change the mind-frame.” I think it’s time we redefine black.