Guys… my test results came back.
It turns out that I’m black.
I mean, I know that I very clearly LOOK black and am the product of two black parents and have scores of black relatives, but I don’t ACT black! I mean, I don’t listen to Beyonce and I watch British things and I sound like I come from the Midwest (you know, the no-accent section of the Midwest)!
I know… CONFUSING… but it has been medically confirmed (85% non-Caucasian, and then there’s that whole thing about my parents… being black… as their parents were… and so on and so forth...), so maybe now we can put that whole debate to rest.
Hopefully, it’s obvious that I’m being a little bit sarcastic here.
I’m being just the tiniest bit, the itsiest skoch, the teensiest smidge sarcastic, because people with functioning eyeballs know that I’m black. But I frequently hear, from people that I love (and I do love you guys, like a black woman who loves sushi loves sushi), that I’m not really black because I behave in a way that people don’t recognize as “black”.
I’m just going to say two things in response to that:
1) You’re wrong.
2) There is no set of behaviors that makes a person black, mmmkay?
Point number one is one of those pointedly rude comments that stands on its own little rude feet, but point number two may require some unpacking… so I’ll go ahead and unpack, shall I?
There is no one black culture.
There is no one black story.
There is no one black experience.
There is no one white culture.
There is no one white story.
There is no one white experience.
A Caucasian person will sometimes identify with one portion of their ancestry, saying, “I’m German American” or “I’m French American” or just breaking into “Rule, Britannia!” like a boss. For a Caucasian, there’s family culture, regional culture, urban culture, rural culture, hipster culture… there’s an embarrassment of cultural riches to pick and choose from. A Caucasian will eat all sorts of food, enjoy all sorts of movies, listen to all sorts of music, wear all sorts of fashions, and generally develop a persona that is not defined simply by their color, because to try to define it that way would be silly… because you can’t just say that a white person is just white and therefore, they’re all the same.
No, seriously… YOU CAN’T SAY THAT.
You see where I’m going with this, don’t you?
A Black person (and I’m not saying “African American” because I’m not actually from the continent of Africa [I’m from Missouri], and since we can’t get any more specific than that, it just seems a bit too broad to me… but if you like the term, knock yourself out [figuratively speaking]) can say, “I’m from the East Coast” or “I’m from Puerto Rico” or just break in to “Rule, Britannia!”, but here, we seem to run into a bit of a sticky wicket, because the behavior and preferences of a black person only appear to be categorized into two ways: “black” and “not black.”
Curiously, this set of “black” behaviors is so clearly defined that if a white person does “black things”, people will say that they’re black… because your skin color is something that is apparently determined by your actions, and not by melanin.
HOW COULD YOU GET IT SO WRONG, SCIENCE?!
I’m not going to start listing “black” behaviors or attributes or preferences because, despite my official stance of not being offended, I sort-of find that offensive, as if the reason why my grandmother shouts is because she’s black and “black people are loud”… not because she’s 94 years old and somewhat deaf.
What I am going to do is repeat something that I’ve found myself repeating quite frequently over the past two years… and I’ve only been repeating it in writing, because when you say it out loud, people start explaining or apologizing (neither of which is actually necessary in my case).
There is no… one… black… culture. All black people are not… the… same. Therefore, it is possible for me to be a phlegmatic geek with a precise turn of phrase, chemically processed hair, and a rampant tea addiction and still… be… black. My behaviors are, indeed, black behaviors… because I’m a black person and I do them.
My sister sings karaoke, looks like Betty Boop, and has a thing for Batman. Those are black things, because my black sister (no, seriously, my literal, biological sister who is black) is doing them.
My mother hates chitterlings.
Is that even possible for a black person?
YUP! Do you know why?
Because she’s black… and she hates them… and her taste buds are not informed by her skin color. I don’t want to blow your minds here, but I hate watermelon. If that freaks you out because you think watermelon is the most delicious and accessible of melons, then I apologize. If that freaks you out because you kind-of thought that watermelon was a “black thing”, then you just learned that there is no such animal.
I’m not going to continue beating this deceased horse to a bloody pulp, but every time one of my friends tells me that I’m not black, or that some white friend of theirs is more black than I am, A YETI EATS A UNICORN.
We love unicorns, don’t we?
We don’t want them to get eaten, do we?
Then stop saying that.
Because I am black, everything that I do is something that a black person does.
If that doesn’t make sense to you, or you’re thinking of that specific time that I spazzed over my trifle (that happened) or I wore a tiny top hat with a feather (that also happened) or I used an inappropriately long word in a sentence (because OF COURSE), and saying to yourself, “But she did that thing and that was SO NOT BLACK”, then, my darlings, I’m going to ask you to start challenging your perceptions.
Stop telling me that I’m not black… because black is a color, NOT a way of life.
However, you can tell me that I’m not an American, and I will kiss you full on the mouth.
Well, I won’t.
We all know that I won’t.
Partly because WOW SO UNCOMFORTABLE AND INAPPROPRIATE and partly because there’s only one person that I kiss full on the mouth.*
*Did you see what I did there? I just worked in a reference to my relationship. Smooth, no? You like that, yes? Well, there’s plenty more where that came from.