I haven’t ever been one to get offended easily. I’m not confrontational. I have probably quoted Michael Jackson a million times saying,”I’m a lover not a fighter.” It’s not because of anything that I can think of except that it’s not in my character.
We can’t all be liked. For one reason or another you will unwittingly rub someone else the wrong way. I’m in a season of my life where I’m looking at how and why people do and say the things that they do. Most of the time we practice learned behaviors. Our parents did it, and we follow suit. Hopefully, that includes being hardworking and productive citizens, and not the alternative.
I was raised in a two parent household. I have an older brother and we grew up watching our parents go to work everyday and come home and care for us. My dad drank one or two beers after work during the week every evening before dinner. On the weekend he would graduate to corn whiskey. My mom would drink Pepsi, and on special occasions she’d have a virgin piña colada. I figured we were a normal family and without looking at the skin color, we were for all intents and purposes normal.
My dad left his parents home in Texas at 14 and my grandmother found him again, in California, when he was 33 years old. He was her first born and I’m guessing her favorite, because she moved from Texas to California to live in a house 3 doors down from us, and lived out the entirety of her life here. Madea (the name we called her) brought her younger kids with her, and I was raised amongst my fathers family.
Being a mixed child my hair wasn’t the same as my cousins. They got their hair braided in frenchbraids during the summer so they could go swimming. Coarser hair is harder to manage with swimming and braids help to keep from having to wash and comb it every time they went swimming. I didn’t like braids! I had what we called a “tender head”. Braids didn’t stop hurting once they finished braiding. I could feel the tightness and pulling for days afterwards! No thanks!
My cousins didn’t use sunblock. They didn’t think they could get sunburned after swimming all day. I would be guaranteed a nice hue of red resembling a lobster if I did not put on sunscreen!
Little variances like these pointed to the difference in my skin tone and theirs, but I was still a black girl. My momma said,”Your Daddy is black man and that means you are black.” Nothing in the culture that I adopted was any different than my black family. Nothing I did was ever pointed out as inappropriate because my behavior was culturally appropriate. I am a black girl. I had my hair in corn rows at times. I wore dashikis during black history month. I cried the first time I watched Alex Haley’s “The Roots.” I participated in the black history parade, as a dancer in a drill team. I always have been a black girl.
In high school I was introduced to a wider range of ethnicities, and I discovered a new element of people. Now I’m old, so high school was in the late 80’s. It was when scientists were only beginning to learn about HIV and AIDS. Homosexuality was still something that you didn’t openly talk about, and with gay men dropping like flies, they kept their sexual preference secret. The same can be said about interracial dating. Especially, white girls with black boys. It went on more so behind closed doors then in public. Although I was a product of such, it was still a surprise to see another couple like my parents. When you did see it you didn’t see cornrows in the white girls hair. You certainly didn’t hear her casually using the n-word like it was not a racial slur at all, but an ordinary adjective like bum or hood. White girl stayed in her cultural lane. She had stepped out enough just displaying her acceptance of dating outside her race.
I must state right here that I emphatically disagree with using the word “race” to define ethnicity! We are ONE race, and that is the HUMAN race. Culture, melanin and hair texture among other less obvious elements present to us differences between us, but these differences do not by any means makes us any less the same human beings in every way. We are the same biologically speaking. However, I see a rising up of cultural appropriation that troubles my spirit.
The use of corn rows in the hair of a non black person. That’s strange to me, because my cousins wanted the braids to keep from having to damage their hair. Swimming would necessitate washing their hair. Black hair is dry and stripping the moisture with soap would dry it out even more. Coarse and tightly curled hair is harder to comb through so, pressing and curling the hair made it easier to manage ,but the heat would also cause damage. So braids alleviated the need, at least for a week or two. It wasn’t out of style but necessity. But it’s cool I can see and understand the appeal of the braids. I get it.
I can even understand adopting the slang, and hip hop cause it’s dope! Hip hop culture is a great way of expressing what is on your mind. Poetry, beats and dancing is akin to the drums, and rituals still played in mother Africa.
Something that I cannot understand is the use of the n-word by non black women who date black men. Now don’t misunderstand me when I say that, because I don’t believe that word should be used by anyone. The original intent of it was to belittle and demean the slave into believing that he was less than the slavemaster. I have learned to live with hearing young black people use it, because it is a good point that I have argued that falls on deaf ears. They say they use it to take its power away. That’s a lie they perpetuate, because it is still offensive to them if someone not black calls them by it.
The use of this derogatory word by the very people it was created to harm has created a cultural appropriation that I vehemently oppose! No one should be tossing that word around. Especially not black people! I must bite my tongue when they do because I don’t want to waste my pearls on swine. But to these non black women who seek out black men to date I just need to say this, fuccing black men don’t make you black! It’s not ok to open your mouth and degrade the men that you claim to love! You look and sound stupid!
You’re giving your body to a man, who is a member of a culture and ethnicity that the n-word was used to degrade their own self-worth! You show blatant disrespect for him when you use it! Stop the madness! Read a book about slavery and the truth of the history of that word! You love the black man so much to lay down with him. Try educating yourself and stand up for him.