If I had a dollar for EVERY TIME someone said that to me…hell I could retire and live quite comfortably! And each time it’s been said I’ve been caught off guard and either laughed it off or walked away. I seriously need to work on a comeback.
The term “microaggression” was used by Columbia professor Derald Sue to refer to “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.” Sue borrowed the term from psychiatrist Dr. Chester Pierce who coined the term in the ’70s.
My good friend Michellle (who is also Black) of Divas with a Purpose and I were discussing this and she brought up such a good point. Whenever the term of saying that you act white was used it was “the ultimate dis by the black kids and a badge of honor by the white ones.” Can you imagine being in 4th grade and another student telling you “I don’t know why you try to act so white when you’re so black!” That was over 30 years ago and I can still remember that.
When I moved from DC to Nashville, TN over 20 years ago I remember a girl telling me “You’re not like other like Black people…” Seriously WTF does that mean??? Is it because I articulate my words, I don’t wear crazy azz hair styles and I’m educated? I asked her and she still had no clue that what she said was totally effed up. For a lot of people I’m usually “that token Black friend” and their only perception of Black people is what the media portrays. And we all know that’s beyond biased. So when they meet me it’s like “Oh she’s cool…because she’s not really black.”
My husband and I have been married for almost 15 years and together for like a gazillion! He’s white and I had other people tell me that I clearly must have issues with who I am if I want to marry outside of my race. No…I met someone, fell in love and got married. I did not seek out someone white because I had issues with myself or who I am. I know I’m black and I’m proud of who I am.
Calling me white isn’t a compliment and here’s why. Saying I’m the whitest black girl you know means disregarding my actual background in favor for a term that society accepts with ease and approval. The stereotype is used as the butt of jokes and therefore many do not understand the point I’m trying to make. If I go around saying you’re so hood or black then it’s suddenly an insult.
However my lack of voicing my opinion over race relations in our country means according to society I’m associated with all the “basic white girl” stereotypes like Starbucks, being vegan and wearing Uggs during the summer.
The next time you want to tell your black friend that she’s isn’t really black…just pause and think about how much that person may be refraining from wanting to pimp slap you. 😉