It is graduation season and it is very scary. I mean, come on, I graduate in 3 days shy of a month! Along with the stresses of upcoming commencement and future plans, there is time to think in retrospect. You know how that is. You all of sudden think you’re 60 and have all the wisdom of the world. You look back on your past experiences and shudder in disgust or disbelief or you internally whine for the good old days that were only 3 years ago. Well, that is exactly what I am doing and why not!? College is a transitional, transformational time. You unwillingly learn great lessons. So, to start off, I have learned and have experienced five things that have given me some wisdom to put under my belt. I won’t write about them in one sitting. Ain’t nobody got time for that, but I will start by putting them in a list:
- People will put you in a box no matter what you have done.
- Misery loves company (a very known fact, but reinforces itself with lifetime progressions). You get negative vibes at the most surprising moments.
- People will use you. Accept that. Help them. It will pay off in the long-run (so people say)
- You have to be happy with yourself. Ultimately you wake up with yourself. It doesn’t matter who you wake up with. They are not responsible for your happiness. So, take care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, etc.
- You have to let go.
These are my five big lessons. I will jump in with the first: being put in a box. This shouldn’t be an issue, but you can’t rush progress, eh?
I grew up in a white neighborhood and have had mostly white friends even through college. Blah, blah blah. Because of this I tend to have a “white” voice, “white” antics, and a “white” attitude according to others. Because frankly, what does that all mean and does that really matter? From middle school to the present, I have been put into the box of an “Uncle Tom”. Some people don’t know anything about me, obviously.
The thought process:
I assume I am put into this box because of my voice, my hair (which has become less of an issue), what color my friends are, who people think I am attracted to, and what I am doing with my life.
1. My valley girl voice
My mom and dad call it that. Yes, I have one and I cannot help it. Don’t worry it changes based on who I am around like it should. I mean, would you talk to your friends the same way you talk to your boss? Mhm. You understand. This has become less of an issue since middle school of course due to maturity, but every now and then I still get those snarky comments:
- “You must be a surprise when someone sees you in person after talking to you over the phone.”
- “You’re so articulate.”
- “You don’t sound like other black people I know.” OH MY GOSH DON’T EVER SAY THIS TO ANY OTHER BLACK PERSON. YOU ARE IGNORANT AND DON’T KNOW MANY BLACK PEOPLE. STOP.
2. My natural hair
“Is that your hair?”—> Yes, it is my hair. No, I did not buy it. What is my hair supposed to look like!?
“Are you multiracial?” ––> This comes mostly from other peers who don’t know me, who I’ve encountered on the street or those that simply think that one curl pattern is better than the other. They are obviously mistaken that black people have one kind of curl pattern. I mean white people have wavy, curly, and straight hair. Guess what, so do black people naturally, without being “mixed”. Many of my black peers know this. Some, however, think natural is only beautiful if your curl pattern is less nappy for lack of better phrasing. *Sigh* There is still so much work to do!
“Can I touch it?” –> NO. Don’t pull it. Don’t pet it. Don’t caress it. If you do, I will end up looking like a chia pet who has been electrocuted.
“Have you been natural all your life!? Why? How!?”—> This is a legit shock to people. I have no idea what it’s like to get a perm. I wasn’t allowed to get one though I begged. My parents were fans of natural beauty and told me that changing myself to fit society’s standards was a thing not to do. Now look at everyone. Rocking afros and bantu knots. Where were you 5 years ago!? No, I didn’t do it to discover who I am. What the hell does that mean? I know who I am. Can’t say the same about you, I guess. No, I didn’t do it for health reasons. Natural has always been more healthy. That is a stone-age fact. It isn’t easy though. Things worth having aren’t easy.
3. Who I hang out with
I don’t even want to waste time on this. Not having a plethora of black friends doesn’t make me any less black. I have dark skin, thick hair, a big ass, thick thighs and big lips. I literally can’t hide it. I also don’t have to prove my blackness. It is just my race. Get over it. I had this problem when I had mostly Latino friends too. My Latino friends knew that I was half Hispanic and have seen black people speak Spanish and weren’t baffled by the fact. My white/black friends thought I was trying to be less black. Like I said before, I CANNOT HIDE MY ANCESTORY. My friends are not who I am. They are people who like the things I like, do the things I like, and are frankly in many of my classes (since freshman year of college). Face it, it is really hard to avoid white people at UT. It takes actual effort to not have white friends, y’all. (Insert whatever exception you want.)
4.Who people think I am attracted to
NO, I am NOT a lesbian. If I were, I would be a really really hot awesome lipstick lesbian and be a badass, but I am not. Just because I don’t have someone that I am “talking to” at every minute of the day, someone who I am screwing, or someone who I am dating doesn’t mean I am any less of a heterosexual female. I just had to do this, but it is so true. It is a stereotype, but that is totally me. HAHA.
“So you one of them girls who like white guys?” This actually happened this week on 6th street with some bouncer. This has been assumed by friends, family, randoms, and others alike. I DO NOT HAVE A PREFERENCE FOR WHITE MEN. If I am with one my white guy friends alone it is worse. Like, I understand we are in the south, but shiiiiii. I don’t see y’all freaking out with that black guy over there who has a blonde girlfriend. What about him!? NO, I AM NOT FULFILLING A JEFFERSON-SALLY HEMMINGS fetish that you THINK I have. ALL CAPS RAGE WITH THIS. To be quite honest, I have been approached in public places by more white and Asian men (yes, I am not lying) than by black men. Could it have been where I was? Yes. Were there black men at those places? Yes. Could I have approached them? Yes. However, I am deathly afraid of approaching anyone of the opposite sex. I get all tongue-tied and awkward. Another thing, I don’t like those who have fetishes/jungle fever. That is weird. I would then be fulfilling their fetish. It becomes apparent once they blurt out something inappropriate regarding my bum or my skin color. I usually recoil in repulsion and curtly saunter off. ANYWAYS. JUST NO. I like everyone. Choosing one race over another to me is selling yourself short. Be with someone whose mind complements and challenges yours. (In my opinion)
Someone who shares this opinion is Brit Pop Princess who is a British Nigerian and married to a British man. These two images are from interracial agenda- like tumblrs. Her response is below.
4. What I am doing with my life/what I have done
This is a little more ambiguous and has no definite personal stance. I have gotten flak from black doctors not being a part of Black Health Professions here at UT and have gotten flak from others about not being in other black organizations. Here is the deal. With black health professions freshman year I simply couldn’t go to the meetings because I had Women in Natural Sciences events (another organization) at those times. It just never formulated. With the others, I joined them and just didn’t like them at the time. It was purely a personal preference. I didn’t feel the overwhelming necessity to be in a black organization. I also didn’t feel a necessity to join any of the divine nine. My family personally has been anti-Greek. Yes, there were connections. Yes, there were many opportunities provided. However, I got to achieve those opportunities without being in the organization as well. I met with black doctors etc outside of class, too. I used other avenues that I had. For example, my church home in Houston has plenty of black, female, OB/GYN’s. Jackpot. That’s what I want to do and I knew them on a more personal level. I am not anti-black organization. Chill. I just didn’t do it. Also, being of a certain race doesn’t change my ability to do what I want in life (Overwhelmingly–I meant it doesn’t change it. Yes it affects it, but you know it doesn’t change my aptitude). I know there are phenomenal black students here at UT. I know there are black students in the sciences. I see them all the time. They are getting stuff done. Their race isn’t affecting their success at all.
I have heard so much about this:
“You are black. You’ll get into med school” No. This is laughable. This is also not true
“You don’t need as high as a GPA to get to med school because you’re black” HAHAHAHAH So you want me to lower my personal standards? B—, please.
In my head, you have to be just as good or better than your white counterparts in order to succeed. That is what I am working on right now. If I can look past my race and stop playing victim, you will stop only seeing my race and stop treating me like a victim for I am not. I never have been and never will be.
So this is what I have learned. Others will look at you and observe you and make their own opinions about you without getting your input. This will happen until the day I die. However, I now know how to deal with it better: talk to them. Give them your perspective. Don’t just let stuff sit and let incorrect stereotypes and square thinking ensue. Talk.