Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sell Out

So I'm reading "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison and yesterday on the train, a black woman tapped me and asked me how I truly felt about the book. She was darker than I am, with her hair going through the "natural transition" and I knew she wanted a profound conversation from one black woman to another. Honestly, something inside of me just wanted to act like I didn't feel the tap and ignore her questions.

She began to talk to me about how she feels like blacks always have to be the ones to change and make ways for ourselves. How "they" aren't going to help up. How blacks need to find self love and love who we are and our history. How we date outside of our race so that we can eliminate our race as a whole. We bleach our skin because black isn't identified with being beautiful. We are trapped thinking certain ways because of the media and because of how "they" make us think. We need to be more engulfed and proud of our history, culture and ancestors. We created this country. We need to focus on our roots. Racism is real! No one wants to talk about the race card. "They" don't want to help you. Why aren't there black princes in cartoons. Look how "they" portray us.

And I disagreed. Just like I did in college which was annoying to my peers since I decided to go to Hampton University which is an predominantly black university. Though I am a black woman, I grew up in an area that is much like a melting pot. My friends growing up were Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Hondurian, Nigerian, Dominican, Chinese, black and white. We all hung out collectively. I wasn't teased about my complexion or my hair or for being black. Our parents hosted sleep overs and I was welcomed. I don't have two black parents so seeing and being a part of diversity was something that I was born into. Not saying that I grew up not knowing that I was black, but I grew up not having to have these deep questions and conversations and just accepting the history and continuing to move forward in unity.

The book "Invisible Man" follows the unnamed protagonist during his journey of the pre-renaissance era. It starts with him as a teenager graduating from high school and attending college in the south, getting expelled from college and moving to Harlem to try to make amends with the Doctor in charge and school so he can return in the fall. (That's as far as I've gotten so far leaving out tons of details of course.) It's very deep. Like really deep. Just seeing how blacks were viewed by themselves, by other blacks and by whites during that time is always so interesting to me.

I don't deny that what has happened to blacks during the past hundreds of years didn't happen. I've seen pictures of lynchings. I've heard and read the stories of rape, racism, and murder. I know our history. But I refuse to sit around and continue to talk about it. The woman made me feel like I was a sell out. She looked at me like I was crazy when I said that blacks collectively need to move on and stop blaming everyone. She was confused that I had these opinions even after attending Hampton University. I love my college, but it's not 1865 and I'm interested in true progression. I don't want to sit around and talk about how I'm mad that the new Disney movie didn't have a black prince as well as a black princess. That is not MY reality. What's wrong with interracial dating and coupling? Why do I have to be a sell out if I fall in love and marry a white man? Why am I not connected to my culture? Why was that decision something that "they" made me do?

I know that I'm a black woman. I'm aware but I don't sit around and remember and think about it everyday. I don't look in the mirror and say "Good morning Black Woman". I just identify myself as a young woman trying to make it. I'm aware of my white counterparts and employers just like they are aware of me. But how can I sit around and blame "them" for treating me different if I walk into situations telling myself every day that I am different. Pointing out my differences to myself? I don't think that's selling myself out. I don't want to be white nor do I want to be them. I just want to be me and successful.

Slavery happened. And even after slaves were freed, we were treated unfairly and weren't equal. Ok. That was 60 plus years ago. Fairly recent. But when are we going to move from this mentality? Don't like the fact that we don't have black princes and princesses in movies? Then create your own. But no, when blacks are given opportunities to create things, we have 10 Madea movies where we are loud, crazy, and outrageous. Then we cry about how we aren't equal and how "they" view us and keep us back. We keep ourselves back. Do whites sit around and continue to simply identify themselves as being white? Do they have these discussions? I'm not sure. But I know that I'm over having it.

Move on! The only person stopping YOU, not you being racially identified -but you as a person, IS YOU!

Don't like how you're being treated then say something about it. And accept that everyone isn't going to feel the same way as you and most importantly know that that's OK! It's ok to disagree.

I'm not a sellout. I know my culture. I know the story. Not saying racism and issues like those still don't happen because they do. I just want to move on and live the life we keep talking about that we want. The life that millions have died for.

No comments: