You Don’t Act Black

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It’s bad enough that African Americans are stereotyped negatively by the media and other ethnicities. We shouldn’t have to deal with negative stereotypes within our community too, however, sadly we do. For some reason, our mannerisms are supposed to define and solidify our racial status. I’m not sure who thought of this, but it’s wrong. Our community already questions the lighter shades of color within the community and now we are questioning each other’s “proper” attitudes as if we are all supposed to act uncivilized. Unfortunately, I encountered this very problem.

One day I was having what I thought was a normal conversation with a Black friend of mine. However, things took a turn when my friend looked at me and said, “Are you sure you’re Black?  The reason I asked is because, look at you. You’re all proper, like you have a White dad or something.  I mean, and you have to admit this, you don’t act Black. See look at me, I’m into getting what’s mine no matter what.  You think you could work for yours. Now I see you got some nice stuff because you worked hard, but in this system, no Black man can work hard to get his, he gotta take it.  You’re too soft for that, I can tell.”

My parents taught me that a Black person is someone who passes on the Black culture, heritage and is a responsible man or woman.  My parents go on to say that raising children, keeping a house, providing for you family, obeying laws, making a living, and finding peace within yourself are not racial issues regardless of if it’s accomplished or not.  Those who do not do these things are sellouts because they’ve sold their soul for something that is usually materialistic like money, sex, or drugs.

Knowing this brings up an interesting set of questions. If I was doing what my parents, who are both Black, say is right to do, can I really be an Uncle Tom? Also, isn’t it possible that even if I did ‘act Black’ that I could still be a sellout? When are we as a Black community going to get tired of seeing stereotypes all of the time? Don’t you wish that once in a while, we can be pictured as normal people who just happen to be Black? I know I do. I’m sick of the belief that Blacks are supposed to live up to negative stereotypes just to be considered part of the Black community.