A few weeks ago, some friends and I posted a rant on Facebook of constantly being accused of sounding and acting like a white person. All my life I have heard these type of comments and was made fun of for supposedly talking and acting like a ‘white’ person. It didn’t stop there as I have been told by a few friends and family members when I call them “oh, I thought you were some white woman”. I never quite understood the logic in this ignorant comment, nor did I know how to respond to it. After years of being tormented, I finally confided in my mother and she told me to simply respond ” it is not talking white, it is being articulate and sounding educated”. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized the absurdity of these accusations and that it is more of a compliment, than an insult. I no longer saw it as an insult because I was proud to be well spoken. Lord knows, when I tried to so-called sound ‘black’, I ended up making a fool of myself and it was not authentic sounding at all. The stupidity of that effort I would love to forget going forward. LOL!
What I found enlightening in my Facebook rant is the comments I received. Once again, this was not exclusively in the African-American race but it affected Hispanics and even a Caucasian friend who was told she sounded like a ‘black’ person. Therefore, once again we have come across a universal issue that needs addressing and basically just needs to be put to rest immediately. What I would like to understand is what difference does it make? Without realizing it, these people who say these comments are insulting themselves and a variety of races by stating that the only culture that can talk ‘proper’ and sound educated is the Caucasian race. So basically, these dense individuals are saying that the rest of us need to speak with a limited vocabulary, resign ourselves to activities that only involve our race and make sure we recreate segregation. That is in essence what is taking place, we are segregating ourselves and making the white race the model race when that is just not the case.
I know for a fact that my articulation has helped me not only in school, but also in business and effectively communicating with my clients. However, it is not something I strive for, it is simply who I am and how I was raised. Obviously, it has also assisted me in my writing. I mean who wants to read a bunch of incoherent gibberish from a writer all for the sake of not talking like a ‘white’ person? I read an article earlier this week where Whitney Houston was booed at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards for not sounding “black enough”. How ridiculous is that!! Although she will be greatly missed, at least while she was here she stayed true to herself and went on to break countless records during her singing career. One of the greatest singers of all time was ostracized by her own race for supposedly sounding ‘white’. It is unbelievable, sad and heartbreaking. Thankfully, the African-American race came to embrace her and are paying beautiful tributes to her now.
Speaking intelligently does not mean that you are ashamed of your race and does not make you a sell out. Education is not granted to only one culture and it definitely is not associated with one culture. The more appropriate response would be to compliment someone on their diction and how effectively they are able to communicate. Last I checked, intelligence did not have a color. I love the arts such as ballet, the opera, plays and going to the symphony. From these favorite past times, I was told I act like a white person but they are actually activities I simply enjoy. It is called broadening your horizons, not acting ‘white’. I was told that my homeschooling is such a ‘white’ thing to do, so in essence this person believes that only white people care about their children’s education. So I wonder, what am I supposed to do to be more black? We all hate to be stereotyped but then we turn around and uphold those stereotypes. We are a constant contradiction to ourselves and in the end, simply make ourselves appear foolish.
I believe we all need to realize there are many facets to an individual and we need to stop placing everyone in a bucket and making assumptions about who they are and why they do the things they do. Who I am as a person is not made to impress anyone. I do not speak correct English to try to be ‘white’. Anyone who knows me truly understands that I am an African and Native American woman who is proud of who she is but by no means is defined by only one culture. I strive for diversity because I am fascinated by all races. I think this is another area that needs a lot of improvement and starts with educating your children so that we can break the cycles of ignorance that exist. We are a melting pot and that is a fact, so these type of comments actually do not have any basis in everyday life.
Until next time, keep on keeping on being the best you that you can be!