Black

16 Jul

I know this is a pretty obvious statement, Karri is so very black. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve awkwardly laughed off the comment from friends that I’m “not really black”. I’ve heard it so much I don’t give it much thought. But given the times we’re in right now, with stereotypes being brought to the forefront, I’ve though about this comment more.

I am not one to talk about my “black experience” because I think we are all different within our own cultures and races. My individual experience is so different from anyone else’s; black, white or otherwise. However, some of my experiences do center around the color of my skin and how I am treated because of it. I try not to let them make me callous or jaded, but they are hard to forget.

I was raised by two freakishly smart parents, one the product of an English teacher mother and grandmother, the other a voracious reader since childhood. They passed on to my brother and me the importance of education, respect for others and ourselves, and so many other qualities that made us pretty well-rounded adults. Growing up I felt like a Cosby kid! They sent my brother and me to great schools that churned out, mostly black, high achieving students by the droves.

I am fortunate, because of my upbringing, to have found an amazing group of friends that cover many racial groups. Yet there is still the occasional comment of, “well, you don’t act like a real black person” from some of my non-black friends. What does that mean? Because I’m educated, speak proper English and half my clothes come from Banana Republic I am less black? Because I don’t look or act like anyone from Basketball Wives or Love &Hip Hop (which I am completely okay with)?

My brother, who is a quieter and more casual version of me, is a frequent wearer of hoodies. Even in the summer you might catch him with one in preparation for the air conditioning being on full blast when indoors. He is one of the most brilliant and gentle people I know. But I will never forget the day when we were heading into a store, him a few feet ahead of me, and a woman quickly locking her car door and looking on in fear as my brother passed her parked car. She should have been more afraid of me because I wanted to bang on the window and tell her he was more likely to help her carry her groceries than hurt her.

Dating is another subject. As someone who has delved into the sometimes intimidating world of online dating, it can be filled with highs and lows. The high comes when you see someone who you have tons in common with, attracted to physically and you know you would enjoy hanging out with. The low comes when you scroll down to see who they’re looking for and see every race marked but your own. “But, but, we both like Alabama football and Jesus and traveling and…and…” Oh well.

The worst feeling I’ve ever felt was my freshman year of college. I shared a bathroom with 4 other girls, all white. One day my RA, who was the only other black person on the floor, asked me to come into her room. She was not her usual cheerful self, so I knew something was up. She told me that the girls that I shared the bathroom with came to her accusing me of stealing their stuff out of the bathroom. I was livid to the point of tears. I’d never stolen anything in my life, let alone products that were useless to me. To think that the actual culprit had a pow wow with the other girls and came to the conclusion that the black girl must be the one stealing almost made me drop out of school. And them not confronting me themselves made me ultimately switch to another bathroom.

These experiences that somewhat make up my “black experience” have made me want to fight the powers that be as much as possible. I know there are many like me who feel they have to work overtime on being the best black person possible to overcompensate for the less than stellar depictions of our race in the media. I understand that it’s hard to know what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes, but rather than discount how their experiences may have effected them, we should acknowledge that just maybe there are some injustices in this world as a result of stereotypes and misinformed thinking. Just maybe.

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18 Responses to “Black”

  1. Carmen July 16, 2013 at 3:45 am #

    Loved it!!!

  2. Hope July 16, 2013 at 3:46 am #

    Well said

  3. Sonya Boatwright July 16, 2013 at 4:03 am #

    Love It And You. Just The Way You Are! You Are Fearfully And Wonderfully Made. I’m So Glad God Allowed Our Paths To Cross.

    Side Note, Why Haven’t We Went Shopping Together Yet? Banana Republic Is My Favorite Store!

    • Karri July 16, 2013 at 5:04 am #

      Ummm, we definitely need to make a Banana trip! So grateful that our paths crossed as well!

  4. thenewstandby July 16, 2013 at 6:23 am #

    Oh Karri! I’m glad you tackled this subject. My experiences are different from yours but I’ve always had a problem with people measuring my Blackness by my actions, likes and dislikes. My Black friends and acquaintances no less. Some even think that it’s a compliment. What a weird racial world we live in.

  5. Beth July 16, 2013 at 6:50 am #

    Karri, I consider you one of the classiest, godly young women I know. You are such a blessing to those of us who have the pleasure of knowing you!

    • Karri July 16, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

      Thanks Beth! That means a lot 🙂 Love you!

  6. Carla Jean July 16, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this.

    • Karri July 16, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

      Thank you for reading!

  7. dyessman July 16, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    wait a minute am I black?

    • Karri July 16, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

      You are kind of awesome, so you probably are. 😉

      • dyessman July 16, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

        awe thanks!

  8. A Poet Named BStuc July 16, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    This was a great read Karri! The world needs to hear our voices to know we are not all monolithic. There are situations we face minute by minute that we all must adjust and overcome through various multifaceted procedures. We are beautifully diverse and exceptionally translucent across all spectrums and backgrounds of life. Your article was another bright light shined on the darkness that unfortunately permeates of our world.

    • Karri July 16, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

      So glad that you enjoyed it! I love all the differences within the human race. There is too much to appreciate in individuals to focus on the negatives of any group.

  9. Lisa Bailey July 16, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    Thank you for sharing, sweet friend. You are beautiful, inside and out.

  10. Tamera Finley July 17, 2013 at 3:01 am #

    Well said…keep being you Karri!

    • Karri July 17, 2013 at 4:09 am #

      Thanks Tamera!

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