My Blackness Isn't Your Blackness

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My Blackness Isn't Your Blackness

Flow Johnson

Look at me.
No, I mean really, really look at me.
What do you see, and who?
A man, A black man, A black man who dresses like a white man or maybe a black man who isn’t as bad as the other black men?
So often, I get the typical, “You don’t talk black,” “Oh, you are a black guy"! And so often I have to do whatever I can, not to slap the shit out of someone, or explode into an (angry) tirade of how annoying that is.
Don’t get me wrong; I Speak up often and loudly, but it gets exhausting having to defend your blackness, continuously, from every side.
Because someone always has an idea of who you are supposed to be, what you are expected to be, and how you are meant to act. I grew up, as poor and hungry, like any other “Typical black family”, in the underwhelming city that is Milwaukee.
My brother and me traveling an hour and fifteen minutes each way to get to school out in the suburbs because my mother wanted the best possible education we could have. We relied heavily on school meals to subsidize our hunger, and I came home at the end of the day to cook for my brother and me until my mom came home from one of three jobs.
This story is nothing new; it's typical of the successful black people I know. They struggled hard to educate themselves and put themselves in a better position. I was lucky enough to have the hardest working woman as my role model. She taught me every day, as a black man, I have work harder, study harder, and make more of an impact than my white counterparts. And although I may not have studied as hard as I could have, I always took everything she taught me to heart and kept it with me. But the one thing that she couldn’t teach me is how people would perceive me, from every side.

And how could she? My mother dealt with similar issues in a time where being a single black woman working in a male-dominated field was one of the hardest things you could do. She would get the "I thought you were white on the phone" all the time. Then, back in our communities, we were seen as sell outs or confused, just because we speak with proper English. Or dress a certain way. Our fear and oppression by the masses didn’t go away when we moved. Our rejection didn’t decrease because I prefer loafers to Jordans. Our life was just as dismissed by white people as ever before.
White people have an idea of who I'll be before I even open my mouth, based off of the color of my skin.
Then I open my mouth, and I'm suddenly not black enough because I don’t (provoke) the unconscious fear that they have been told to have. That is what its like to be a black man in a culture that thinks they know what a black man should be.
Alienating, confusing, and flat out hurtful.
Creating these preconceived notions in our heads about what blackness means, or should be, is why so many black men have a hard time expressing their feelings and being as comfortable in their skin as they would like.
So, I guess what I'm trying to say is- I'm hella sick of people judging my blackness based off of their experience with other black people.
You sound stupid as hell. All black people have felt the same uneasiness, fear, and oppression no matter where they are from. You are not an expert because you work/live/deal the hood. There is no standard issue black person so get that thought out of your head.
To all the White, PR, and Latina men and women, really, whomever thinks they know what it's like, or how a black person should act because you've dated one:
Take a GIGANTIC ass seat down.
You shouldn't be calling people niggas.
You know nothing.
You only think you do.

WordsFlow Johnson