Black girls at my school always thought I was too White to be a part of their groups… that I acted White.
What the heck did that even mean?
When I looked down at my skin, saw how people stared at me in shopping malls, stopped me in Walmart due to the fact they believed I was stealing, how people talked to me in the classroom, treated me on school grounds… I have been pretty certain that I have been Black my whole entire life.
But why wasn’t I the “right type” of Black?
These girls were preaching about checking in on each other, ensuring that we are all one, saying that we need to stand by each other but growing up in Amherst with my skin… it left me feeling like an outcast both in Amherst and in Framingham.
I remember the names I would get called when I was younger. People told me I was an “o r e o ” since I was White on the inside and Black on the outside…and this gracefully carried over into college when people would tell me, “you’re not like other black girls! you’re different!” and me analyzing every curl of their lips when they stated things like that. I still think about when I would preach about unity and although I understand when I say, “white people” I am not specifically talking about individual white people—this is all one big systemic issue. If you’re reading this, read it with the mindset that white privilege is real, America is constantly comparing my beauty standards to those who are white, and those with lighter skin- in any race- get some benefits compared to those with darker skin.
But something that always tugged at me was the fact that some Black girls, including those of darker complexion, wouldn’t include me in their conversations. I did not “act” how they wanted me to, I came from a predominately white town so I guess I must not be Black.
However, some folks who were white made me fully aware of my Blackness.
This is why, to this day, it still strikes me when Black girls do not want to support other Black girls. I mean, I get it. You are not going to like everybody. But society has already taken the Black woman’s body, coerced others to see it as irregular and grotesque, created an idea for communities to see it as animalistic and aggressive, all while continuously sexualizing it. Black women’s’ bodies are already being compared to what is seen as beautiful– white bodies. However, times are changing. Having traditionally Black features on a lighter skinned woman tends to be more attractive currently. If people are already comparing us to White women, why can’t us Black women just love each other? Love each others looks, each others talents, and each others successes.
When I see any Black girl making moves, winning awards, starting her own business, getting a promotion, I am standing bright-eyed and loud-mouthed screaming for her because she is making history.
If the world is already breaking down Black women, why are other Black women joining in?
People tend to forget that we all come from different backgrounds. We grew up in different places, lived through a plethora of different experiences, and those experiences shaped us to act in our own personal ways. Hopefully, we are all fully aware of that. I’m in awe that people are capable of excluding those who do not fit their standard definition of a “Black girl.” We are all focused on being the most “woke” that sometimes we forget about the real issues. We see the police brutality, we understand mass incarceration, we relate with young girls getting pulled out of school for their braids or their gorgeous locs, and on social media we support those who are going through these incidents. We create hashtags, we have protests, we acknowledge their pain, and we all become vulnerable together.
I just hope when people say we are “one,” they mean it. After the protests, the club meetings, and the community conversations. Forget that she acts, “too white” because there’s 100% chance she needs just as much support as you do, a 100% chance she wants to support your goals, your ambitions, your shining future, and there is a 100% chance she is going through the exact same oppression you’re facing.
There is also a 100% chance she wants to fight it with you. Her acting whatever you declare as “white” doesn’t change her skin tone.
Sisterhood isn’t anything without the support and most definitely, without the love—from every sister.