Brown Girl in the Ring (How black you gotta be to be called black?)
Last night I was triggered when I was watching “Love and Basketball” on BET with my husband, one of my favorite movies to re-watch. We were talking about a scene in the movie and he said to me as he has said many times in our 34-year relationship, “ But you’re not black”. Wow! I had to take a deep breath, remind myself not to take it personally, remember that one of my quick black girl magic responses right now, though humorous would just exasperate the situation and make me the “angry black woman” instead.
I let it pass but reminded myself to find the trigger button a little later. Early the next morning after some deep thought, contemplation and a fast rewind movie of my life, (this is where I go into my memories and recall all the incidences where I have felt this same trigger and had this same feeling and emotion) I remembered being boxed in a corner as the girl with no label syndrome. Yeah, I wasn’t black enough to be black and not white enough to be white and so when the two camps were choosing sides I was left there standing alone.
My identity has always wavered a bit because of this response. I always saw myself and more recognized as a black person, but just due to the color of my skin, the texture of my hair, the color of my eyes, and the way I speak, there is this implication that I am not “black enough to call myself black”.
Doesn’t matter that my mother is dark-skinned, or that I know more black history than a darker-skinned person like my husband and my children, it isn’t affected because I like reggae, hip Hop, Soul, R&B, music or am into cultural understanding and the rights of black people everywhere, hasn’t changed because I had my hair in locks or wear fashion representing my African ancestry and DNA which by the way says I am 70% African. So, what is this deciding factor?
Recently there was a new TV show called “Mixed-ish” created by Kenya Barris that was developed out of an American sitcom television series called black•ish
Black-ish follows an upper-middle-class African-American family led by Andre ‘Dre’ Johnson (Anthony Anderson) and Rainbow Johnson (Tracee Ellis Ross). The show revolves around the family’s lives, as they juggle several personal and sociopolitical issues. Mixed-ish chronicles the early years of Rainbow Johnson as she recounts her experience growing up in a mixed-race family in the 1980s.( Wikipedia)
Well, this show so hits home for me though I grew up in the 1970s and my family was way more dysfunctional.
But much like the adult Rainbow, I have felt like I have eventually found my own path and am grounded in my heritage and identity until a moment like last night happens, then the feelings surface all over again.
I have multiple stored memories of my young children describing me to their friends as “yellow” and laughing with their father “mom isn’t black, she thinks she is black”. This is also rooted in earlier memories of my mother and my brothers and sister doing the exact same thing.
Now understand I am a person that feels injustice not just for myself. I tend to lump myself into this corporate pool of people that I have had the privilege to associate myself with. So, I end up fighting the fight for all females, all women, for all black women, and for all black women that are light-skinned and get treated like outcasts.
I am sure you understand what I am trying to say. These thoughts, feelings, emotions, and responses are a mere disgust that after all these years this type of prejudicial racial bigotry and separateness is still occurring, right in my own home.
Now please don’t get me wrong, my husband and children are amazing. I know they say this to me to be cute and funny but I really need to address this. So with my black girl magic moves, yes you heard me right, I call myself a black girl and I do me some amazing magic every now and then, I plan to choose the right words at the right time to share with them how I feel about this and see if maybe another intelligent conversation can make a dent in their behavior and restore my hope in all humanity to quit the insanity and live as one.