"I'm not Black..."
Black History Month is always a mental trip for me. Every year comes with a February, and with it comes Black History Month (thankfully) and Valentine’s Day (a.k.a. “Singles’ Awareness Day”). In my mind, the two commemorations have reminded me that I am probably single due to my skin color (or desirable to men who have a preference for "exotic" women). The mix makes for a very emotional equation: confusion, loneliness, frustration, and even self-pity, all adding up to a general feeling (or a reminder) of how I’m just “too different” or “too complex.”
I’ve recently been re-watching the show Mixed-ish, a spin-off prequel to the show Black-ish, which I watched and enjoyed first. In the show, Rainbow Johnson’s mother is Black and father is white. Rainbow (a.k.a. “Bow”) goes on to be a successful doctor (which Tracee Ellis Ross, who plays grown Bow, comedically reminds the show’s viewers).
The show has received some heat for this, but for this conversation, it’s beside my point: in the show, young Bow says, “I’m not black. I’m mixed!,” with a smile of confidence and innocence. She’s eventually hit with the reality that “one drop” of Black blood means you are Black and seen as such by society.
I, too, am Black. During Black History Month, however, I feel a sense of distance between me and the Black U.S. American community. I’m not proud to admit that. Yet, it is my reality. My African heritage is still in Africa: formerly, Zambia, and now, Batswana. Most of the time, I feel like I can’t speak to—or I don’t have the authority to speak to—U.S. Black history. My biological parents didn’t come to the U.S. through the horrific, sickening, and hateful history of slavery, and the parents I grew up with are Caucasian (as is my birth mom).
So who am I to say anything about the Black experience in the U.S.?
So who am I to say anything about the Black experience in the U.S.? I can educate myself as much as possible (as Black history is everyone’s history), but I can’t say that I know my place in it just (yet). I haven’t lived through it, and from what I know, none of my ancestors have.
Apart from receiving a racist hate letter, hearing numerous racial slurs, and being the brunt of playground bullying, I’ve grown up with a lot of privilege. I won’t belittle the fact that I have. I know that I've been uniquely-positioned in society.
I also, however, know that I'm still Black.
But what does that mean for me during Black History Month? Is my perspective on and actions toward supporting the Black community the same as my advocacy for the LGBTQ2+ community? Or does my part in being Black mean something else?
I’m still trying to figure that out, and I’m learning a lot. I need and am open to learning so much more though!
All thoughts and suggestions are welcomed, so please don't hesitate to reach out to me.
Also, thank you for listening.