Time's a-wastin'

Ladies, in this new era of renewed hope, renewed goals (*looks at list of New Year's Resolutions*) and a renewed outlook on being black in America, its time we put aside unproductive mindsets. One such problematic mindset is that black people don't do 'certain things'. Alot of sistahs grew up accused of acting or wanting to be white, because their family raised them with certain values, or they participated in activities that made the Black Do Not Do list. As one of those girls, it was hard to tell what made that list and what didn't. Up until high school, when honors classes brought me in contact with other black girls like me, my self-esteem took a serious hit from these accusations. 97% of my family is black, my parents taught me to do these things, yet outside the home my identity was being challenged. It was very hard for me, and other girls, to come with this. Perhaps you can relate to the list --

Black Do Not Do List (blacks do not:)
  1. speak English using correct grammar

  2. like school/like to read

  3. wear clothing in a proper manner, i.e. not too tight, too baggy or pants on the waist

  4. wash our hair alot (women)

  5. drink wine

  6. now, apparently, get married

  7. have good credit

  8. make green bean casserole (lol)

  9. become serial killers or 'go postal'

  10. participate in adventure-related activities: surfing, mountain-climbing, hiking, white water rafting, etc.

  11. listen to country, alternative, and heavy metal music

  12. eat healthy foods

Those were the ones I could remember from the top of my head. What I find interesting is that, if you told a black person that they couldn't participate in these activities, there would be calls made to the NAACP, the Rev. Al Sharpton would hold a press conference, and the black community would raise a general outcry. "How dare they say we can't do any of these things! That's racist! Our ancestors fought and died so we could be included! The white man is trying to keep us down!" Yet we segregate ourselves from new experiences. Its funny to me that black people love supporting diversity in the workplace, just not diversity within the black community.

How many times has someone leveled the 'trying to be white' accusation on you, for an interest, mannerism or outlook on life that differed than theirs? How did you learn to deviate from the 'norm' as far as what black people are expected to do? For me, it was the realization that 1) I was not unique in my likes and dislikes and 2) trying to conform to the 'list' was not making me happy. I like being a nerd, reading fantasy fiction, I want to travel to less-traveled locations (like Russia)

As much as we like to think this is a new day, if we don't act and think in new ways, things will remain the same. If we don't start placing higher value on education, marriage, fiscal responsibility and other areas on the Black Do Not Do list, we will find ourselves even more marginalized from mainstream society. I'm not saying change who you are to fit in with white people - I'm saying that you shouldn't limit your desires and who you really are based on some arbitrary list of what we are perceived to enjoy. Simply stated, its time to stop wanting to look 'hood', 'street' or whatever this disdain is supposed to promote.. and start living lives based on what will make us stronger, smarter, healthier and happier. We no longer have time to fall back on old excuses and look to others to define what black people do. We need to find that definition within ourselves.


Tha BossMack TopSoil said...

Erykah Badu inspired no doubt.

Smell Goods Lady said...

Ha ha, yeah I can relate to the majority of the do-not list. I was one of those girls, that spoke "well", enjoyed learning, traveled- when I went to France for the last part of high-school, I got some looks. I was always unique and considered "white like". But funny, I was always pro-black and still am. I just like different things. Anyway, I did try to conform, and like you that made me very unhappy, and I made some bad decisions.

I am just happy that I snapped out of it, and now I can be a positive example to my warrior princesses and other little sistas.