Lessons

Ever since I can remember, I was taught to always say thank you. I am pretty sure that almost everyone was raised this way too. Simple things like saying thank you, having proper table manners, knowing when and when not to raise your voice are just the common things that everyone learns when they’re young. Just like manners, racism is something that is taught. We aren’t born knowing the proper way to treat an elder or knowing when to hold the door open for someone behind us. These are things that are taught to us at a very early age. It is also something that our society deems acceptable.

During the past couple years of my life, I’ve noticed that society also tends to treat racism as a normal and acceptable thing. Whether we know it or not, we are all a little bit racist. No one wants to admit it but it’s true. Even though most of our parents don’t say “hey, hate him because he has a different skin color,” we grow up with these fixed stereotypes of each race, and we have no one else to blame but ourselves because we are society.

Being a young black girl at a private school for a majority of my life, I’ve learned that my interpretation of being black is way different than those around me. In school, I’m “too white” and my white peers say that they’re “blacker” than me. I used to think that this was something that I only had to deal with at school, but I was so wrong. When I’m with people I know who don’t go to my school, the taunting is worse. This is not just white people saying this, but also blacks. Even though they don’t mean any harm with their words, it does hurt. Who are you diminish my blackness? Who are you to say that you are more than what I am just because of the music you listen to? My blackness is not defined by music, speech, or the way I act. My blackness is defined by me. It upsets me to know that I have to argue my blackness to others. It upsets me even more when I have to justify my blackness to people who are the same race as me. We are all different and have different styles and preferences. Just because I enjoy alternative music and have no sense of rhythm, does not mean I am not who I am. I am black. I am me. And I will not let anyone tell me otherwise.

– Written by Alexis Davis (redefy contributor)