Lots on my mind; time to get it out...

This is a small piece of myself that I'm now willing to share. Handle with care; contents will break under pressure.

14 September 2010

21. Something I'd like to get off my chest...

So I love my friends and all, and I try to make the most of the conversations that we have with out taking the things they say too personally or to heart.

With that said....

The other day I was walking with a friend of mine and she and I were talking , you know normal everyday stuff.  At some point in the conversation I called her bourgie, in response to something she said.  Her response was that she wasn't bourgie, it's just how her mom raised her.  And so, I responded, "Cuz your mama is bourgie!"  To which she replied, "My mama can't be bourgie - she's white!"  (My friend is biracial; her mother is white, and her father is black, and she was raised predominantly by her mom.)  So what she was saying was that she couldn't be bourgie, because her mom is white and in some respect raised her white.  Really now?

I'm the last person to try to get caught up in the race thing, however I also like to be real about the world around me, which is why I found where our conversation went disturbing.  We continued to discuss the matter and I asked her if she was aware that outwardly the world generally perceives her a Black.  To which she replied that people perceive her as Mixed (of mixed race), and told me, quite matter-of-factly, that her birth certificate says she is white.  Something that, I'm not going to lie, kind of offended me.  But that was her mother's choice, and who am I to argue with how people raise their children.

Moving from this I chose to drop it.  I'm not gonna change her mind about who she is, or thinks she is, in a 10 minute walk to class.  I chose to attribute much of the way she feels about herself to the antiquated Charleston mindset of race and racial stereotypes.  Seeing as how she's spent much of her life here and this city  remains in somewhat of a time-warp, I tried to evaluate the situation from her point of view (as best I could).  She told me that people that when people see her they assume she is mixed, and that the fact that she doesn't "sound like [she's] from Charleston" i.e. she doesn't sound like Black people from Charleston.

To that I my initial [mental] reaction would be, "Hell, people think I'm Mixed, and I'm not!"  The assumption that fair complected people are of mixed heritage is common, and to some extent true, but that mix being of immediate relation (parents) is not always the case.  In my own case, to my knowledge I'm to far removed from whatever "mix" I may be for it to matter to me.
Personally, I think some people (usually light skinned) get too hung up on that stuff.  If you have one black parent and one parent of some other race, clearly, you're mixed.  People who look to grandparents and even great-grandparents if they feel the need to take it that far are fully justified in the "I'm mixed" thing.  However, when you simply have light parents, who have light parents, who have light parents (like me) no point in getting all hell bent in proving how "not black" you are.  It's just another one of those things that creates division and hatred within the community.

To those who are Mixed, by no means am I trying to downplay or trivialize any part of your heritage.  I think its sad when Mixed children who are raised by only one parent don't get the proper opportunity to know one side, because both, together, are an integral part of what makes up that person.  This, however, is not the case of my friend.  She was raised by one parent, but from what I gather her father is not by any means an absent parent and she is not culturally isolated from Black people - she goes to school with and socializes with  Black people, and, at will, uses the "n" word.  She's definitely Black saying that right?  If not, I may need to re-evaluate this friendship.  But I digress.

The point I am trying to make, is that society is based on appearances.  Hate to state the most obvious example but: Barack Obama.... hello?  Barack Obama is known the world over not just as the President of the United States, but the first Black President of the United States.  This is in spite of the fact that in reality he is Mixed.  When people first see him the thought is that he is a Black man, not a Mixed man.  That is simply put, because in reality most Black American heritage is mixed heritage.  So that being said we're all mixed, but realize that doesn't make you any less Black, any better, or any worse.  While it is one thing to be proud of one-half of your history,  it's another thing to use that half to distance your self from the other half.

In any case, I like to let people have their opinions, and sometimes it is better to just agree to disagree.  Like I said I wasn't going to change her mind about who she's come to perceive herself to be after 20 years.  Maybe I made too much of something that wasn't actually that serious.  Like I said in actuality people make too much of the whole light skin = mixed = not black mentality.  We all eat, shit, and sleep no matter what color, right?

All that said, this is just something I wanted to get off my chest, don't take it to heart.

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