Trying to claim my identity while Black

The two articles I enjoyed reading, Kupenda’s “Facing Down the Spooks” and Henry’s “A Wha’ Dem A Go On Wid? (Student Resistance in a Doctoral Seminar on Black Feminist Thought)” really forced me to take a look at my experience, not only as a woman but as a Black woman. Growing up I have always tried to ignore my blackness in order to assimilate into my location; I will admit that there were times where I hated my blackness and imagined how life would be different if I had a different skin shade. Both articles reminded me that I am born with my skin shade and cannot change it and because of it, people will treat me differently based on the social stereotypes associated with not only my gender but my race. I have to learn how to love and respect myself because no one else will do that for me. This is my journey in learning about my history as a Black woman and learning how to deal with the crap that society will place in my way.

I enjoyed reading “Facing Down the Spooks” by Angela Mae Kupenda because even though it was frustrating to read about the stereotypes the other faculty members thought about Black women, Kupenda’s response and overall realization was satisfying. As a young Black woman I have had to confront my own spooks and deal with the stereotypes and myths that society associates with Black women. I have had to be the mammy at my job, try to compose myself so that my peers do not think of me as the loud, aggressive, and ghetto Black woman, continuous try to not live up to the sexually promiscuous stereotype in the face of the college hook up culture. What really pisses me off the most is that no matter how hard I work, no matter how many times I try, people would always have a box that they want to fit me into due to my blackness. I have always noticed it in life but I always tried to ignore it to try to live an oblivious and happy life. It really started sticking out to me as I started to get my college acceptance letters; as a 17 year old I was told by an EX-mentor that I only got accepted into liberal arts colleges because I was BLACK. It was as though Black people are not intelligent and can only succeed educationally due to affirmative action. I tried to brush it off but it seems as though because of my blackness that there is always a spook inside every closet, behind every closed door, and lurking in every corner, especially once I came to a majority white college.  Here at Hamilton, men that I’m interested in always offer to be my friend with benefits (FWB) when I want a relationship. Just recently a peer told me that he isn’t ready for a relationship but wants to be FWB with me. A few months later it turns out that he is a relationship with another person. Apparently there was something about me that just makes me seem like the fuck buddy material instead of the girlfriend material. It has been over a year since I have gone natural and my curly afro seems to convey to others that I am an animal to be petted without permission. Growing up I was coerced into relaxing my hair because of the unwanted nickname pubs (because my tight curls reminded immature men of pubic hair). After finally deciding to muster up the confidence to go natural again after a few months in college, I have had random people stick their fingers into my hair without my permission as though I have no personal space because I am Black. When I braid my hair they continue to touch it and are shocked when they learn how much it costs to braid hair. To wrap it up, I have spent my life being the token Black person (I have a black friend so I’m not racist). In highschool I was the only Black person in AP classes which apparently gave me the certification in knowing all things about Black lives. Currently I am the only Black person on the college’s Women’s Rugby team which apparently makes me the queen of twerking (I cannot twerk to save my life); I can tell that some of the team members feel a little bit uncomfortable towards me and really do try to be my friend on the field but avoid making eye contact outside the field. Kupenda’s article reminded me that it’s a cycle that’s not going to end. Identifying as a Black woman means that others get to infer what they think my life is like without really asking me for my experience. They take all the stereotypes and myths that they know about Black women and try to make me live up to them because that’s how they are going to feel comfortable around me.

            Another article that I enjoyed reading, or at least tried to read was “A Wha’ Dem A Go On Wid? (Student Resistance in a Doctoral Seminar on Black Feminist Thought)” by Annette Henry. What really drew me to this article is her use of her native Jamaican Creole, also known as patois, to convey the hardship she faces as a Black woman in academia. I read into the article that Henry is trying to reclaim a piece of herself after feeling as though she is being disrespected and bossed around by her white male, white female, and black male students who do not respect her class focusing on Black feminist thought. The article resonated with me because I have often found that I have to escape into my native language, Igbo, in other to rant to the people that can understand me without having outsiders listen in on my frustration. It continuously reminded me, just like Kupenda’s “Facing Down the Spooks” that no matter a Black woman’s education level and profession that her blackness will always create an environment of disrespect. Our society does not want to learn about nor respect Black woman because they consider Black women to be on the bottom of the hierarchical totem-pole.

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2 thoughts on “Trying to claim my identity while Black

  1. I love the level of analysis you brought to both the pieces. Bring in your comments on Kupenda and Henry when we discuss these on Wednesday. S o glad you are here!

    Like

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