Before I start, I must say that I am very proud of who I am and despite daily struggles, I do not wish I were a different race. But as with anything, there is a positive side and a negative side and I would be remiss to pretend that being black is all glitter and gold, because it’s not.
I am currently a freshman at a Catholic, predominantly white, private university in Southern California. As an African-American girl from Texas, I couldn’t wait to escape Texas and all of its narrow-mindedness, but what I didn’t realize was that this is an inescapable part of life.
Growing up, I had always been sure of myself. But now, being thrown into a whole new world, I’m not so sure anymore. I’d even say I’ve lost myself. I’ve surrounded myself with a group of Caucasian friends who occasionally let stereotypical comments slip out. I question if I should ignore them, and I ultimately do. I’ve chosen to participate in PanHellenic (traditionally white sororities) Formal Recruitment despite my family’s wishes. And most controversially, I decided not to take part in the protest held for Ferguson on my college campus. Some people say I’m ashamed of my race, others say I’m trying to be something that I’m not, and some people couldn’t care less—those are my favorite.
You see, that’s why I have this love/hate relationship with my chocolate skin. While I truly believe black is beautiful and many on my list of role models span from Melissa Perry-Harris to Beyoncé to Viola Davis, I find frustration in the very thing I love. I hate that the color of my skin automatically causes people to disregard the fact that I’m human and puts a JUDGE ME, PLEASE sign on my back. Why do you think every stereotypical comment will offend me? Unless you’re being downright racist, I understand that we are a society built on stereotypes and I’m not going to hate you for acknowledging that. Why do you label me as being ashamed of my skin because I missed out on a protest that took place during a class that I couldn’t miss? I came to this for an education just like you did. Why are you angry that I’m choosing a traditionally white sorority when that’s the only option available and the girls are nice to me? Aren’t I supposed to choose a sisterhood that makes me happy and comfortable?
Ultimately I just wish that my white friends could understand that I’m not a walking Civil Rights Movement and that my black friends realized that I’m not trying to “become one of them” just because I don’t do everything that the black community thinks I should do. I am an individual human being, and honestly I’m just trying to do what makes me happy, and that shouldn’t be determined by the color of my skin.