I got some inspiration and now I’m back on the horse talking about something that I have a ton of experience about. However, before diving too deep into this, I want to share a story about high school Kyle.
As many of you know, I went to a small high school in the middle of southeastern Wisconsin. Yes, I was the only black student for two years until my brother enrolled as a freshman. Anyway, I was myself and not what would be stereotypically a “black teenager” and everyone would let me know any chance they got. One particular interaction came from a guy a few lockers down from me. As I tell you what he said, I shit you not, this is what he said to me in the year 2006:
“Kyle, I like you. You’re black but like you’re not a nigger. You’re really respectable, well-spoken and just overall a good person. Now, other black people, you see on TV with their pants sagging; well those are niggers. You’re not one of them Kyle. You’re black, but not like “black black” understand what I mean?”
It took me a few seconds to process what he said to me but I looked at him and just plainly said “You know that’s not a compliment right?” and walked to my next class. I wasn’t angry at him, even though I should have been. He tried to justify it by saying that “I said you’re NOT a nigger” as if this were to soften the blow but no I said what I needed to and moved on from it. You see everyone: while trying to cover up your misguided racism as “you’re not one of them” on the surface seems like it is harmless enough, what you’re doing is actually more harm than good. Yes, I said “misguided racism” because that is what this is: racism. By telling me, my parents, my brothers that we are “one of the good ones” has to mean that there are tons of bad ones out there and you have identified that “Hey! You Robinsons are just like me!” No shit we are just like you. In fact, if you looked outside of your comfort zone for more than a few seconds you would see that there are a lot of minorities that are just like you. However, not many of them have the capabilities to enter into “your spaces”. Because others cannot enter into your spaces, they are seen as “outsiders” or “not like me” and that ladies and gentlemen are where stereotypes come in. Let’s for a second look past the fact you said just said nigger with the “hard r” to me twice. Let’s look at the fact that there are two types of black people to you: niggers and blacks like Kyle. Obviously, there’s a lot of problem with categorizing black people as niggers. It is equally as damning to categorize black people as “like Kyle”. Not everyone is going to be like me. You should not feel threated by black people just because they’re not “like Kyle”. I challenge you to change your mindset about people you have misconceptions about. Not everyone needs to be “like Kyle” in order for you to be comfortable. Grow as a person and get to learn about people who look differently than you. And for the love of God, don’t ever get so comfortable that you can use racial slurs in order to compare others.
To you, that may find yourself not black enough let me tell you this: You are. You may like anime, musical theatre, yoga, LGBTQA, short, tall, whatever your story is. You are enough. If that is how you identify as black then you are black enough. Being black is not about the music you listen to, the dialect of your speech, the way you carry yourself, the sports you play or whatever other stereotypes others want you to fall into. This includes other black people. Remember that, sometimes we get the most pressure from those who should “identify with us”. There’s nothing wrong with you at all. You are black enough because you are enough!
Your Very First Black Friend