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  • reidsherria

You act like white a girl...

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Or so I've been told. I have been known to sing Alanis Morrisette, Carrie Underwood or Carly Simon really loud at a karaoke spot in the hood. It definitely sparks attention!

I visited a friend recently. I had all the doors off of my Wrangler, which is jacked up on 35's, top down, music (Cold Play) blasting was a good day! I hopped out of Panda (nickname for my truck) ready to greet my friend. My friend walks up and the first thing he said was, "Yo, you act just like a white girl. Your whole attitude--you act like one of those bubbly ass white girls."

This wasn't the first time I've heard this comparison. I visited friends in the South and my proper enunciation and demeanor was too foreign I guess. So yet again, I heard a friend say, "You act so white."

Because being offended is a choice, the feedback never bothered me. It did make me ponder more and more about perception and how people's insight is limited by their personal experience(s).

Let me give you an example. I got a GREAT deal on a flight to Dubai and so I went. I told all my family to come along too. They all clutched their pearls. "OMG...why would you go there?" and the comments continued, "They don't like women in them Muslim countries." "I wouldn't go if I was might be bombed." I laughed because all the feedback I received were from people who don't travel (and for the most part, have never been out of the country). They were only spreading rumors, fear, uncertainty and doubt. Their insight was only based on their personal experience which were extremely limited.

People will box you in if you let them. I was never one to become a victim of my circumstances or to allow others to 'label' me. I grew up in a very poor neighborhood in west Baltimore. I had a public education, nothing special. My mother had nothing more than an eighth grade education. There were no college graduates in my family. And 'ain't' was most certainly a word that was used often. My family was from the deep South and their accent(s) may have been mistaken for a lack of intelligence.

As poor and uneducated as my family was, they were smart enough to tell me to seek wisdom first. My late aunt Jo-ann was one of the wisest people I knew mostly because she would read a book a day. She would read anything including the telephone book if she was desperate. By the time my cousins and I were of age, none of us could get library cards. My aunt opened cards in all of our names, took out dozens of books and never returned them. She taught me that no one can ever take my education away from me. In turn, I sought education and freedom like predators seek prey.

After I grew up and revisited the area I grew up in, I found that I would dumb myself down to be more 'hip'. I used slang more and my opinion fluctuated about certain things. Folks were uncomfortable with my transmutation. Sometimes family and friends encourage change, but when it happens it makes them uneasy and self-conscious about the lack of their own achievements. My family encouraged improvement--if and only if it turned out the way they thought it should and you didn't surpass their own limitations. They can only guide you as far as they've gone in life. I learned to block out a LOT of noise. Other people's level of discomfort with who I am is not my business nor can I ask them for guidance on how to be me or exist in the world. God's opinion of me means much more to me than any other imperfect person walking this earth.

Today, I'm me. All day everyday. I use 'big' words according to some and I stopped saying "fuck" and "ain't"---for the most part. I live my hippie life out loud, skipping and hiking through national parks while planting my painted rocks along the trail. I have worked my ass off to be free. To be better. To be happier. To be forgiving. To release any resemblance to the pejorative stereotype of the "angry black woman". Far too many women in my family were ice cold, unforgiving, unhappy and stuck. Nope, they can have that! I'll pass. So, if that makes me a white girl in your eyes, cool. I don't argue with fools nor do I seek external validation.

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