You Sound White!
"We live in a time when there is no clear path to where we are trying to go. Yet many of us have a vision of where we would like to be, a vision of schools where all students have the opportunity and the encouragement to achieve a high standard." - Beverly Tatum, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?
We all have a different vision for creating equality among races of people. One vision I do not agree with is the idea of Black people having to "act white" to be considered equal or slightly less inferior. It further strips away the almost depleted identity of Black individuals due to history, society, and media. We have so much to fight through with all the labeling and stereotyping so this is not a struggle someone should have to endure.
“The Black Experience is black and serious, Cause being black, my experience, is no one hearin’ us, White kids get to wear whatever hat they want, When it comes to black kids one size fits all.” - Childish Gambino, Hold you down
This lyric describes my educational upbringing to a tee. I attended private school from 1st grade to the time I graduated from Belmont in 2015. The them was the same, I had to work twice as hard, speak twice as well, and think twice as hard about my actions. My white classmates could coast through classes and social situation and not worry about any consequences. I literally approached every action and decision with a sense of fear. Fear of negative consequence. Fear of being looked at one way. That fear lasted until I was about 22 years old when I decided to embrace who I was! I am a black man. I am me.
Being educated, articulate, or however you describe yourself shouldn’t mean you lose your individuality and get painted with this broad brush called society. It should be celebrated more in our culture. We should be proud of the level of education in whatever field a person of color can achieve. That shouldn’t tear down a person’s identity because education is the primary focus for them. Education is a proven tool for leadership, success, and advancement. To allude to what Childish Gambino said in the song mentioned earlier, “They only see you how they wanna see you, 'Til you make them see you in some other way.” We can’t feed into what the what people typecast us to be. We must be seen in a different light.
We must rid ourselves of this rhetoric of “acting white” because that has zero context when you really think about it. It’s another way to tear each other and our community down and keep us in a box we don’t deserve to be in. We have culture, intelligence, beauty displayed openly for the masses to appreciate. It is ours and we deserve it. Our ancestors pushed for us to become educated, intelligent, and strong. Saying someone “acts white” takes away their opportunity to become great because there isn’t a platform for them to shine.
There isn’t a set definition of what that means but both refer to the black experience, and, who decided that? Our daily goal, one person at a time, is to change our vision of our culture and embrace the education available to us to help make those changes. Being educated doesn’t mean you’re selling out but more about investing in...yourself and our community!