Every now and again I'm reminded of how bad I am at a) being me and b) being a black person. I don't know where the fault in that second part lies but it is a truth in my life.
I grew up in the suburbs, mostly around white people. I'm not 'hood', I don't want to be. I don't want to be whatever the black stereotype is. I don't know if I want to have the black experience, whatever that is. Is it institutionalized racism? Is it being shot at and speaking poor English? Is it being Christian and super religious? I don't know, I just know that when I'm around a lot of black people I get really uncomfortable. I know it's my fault and not them.
As I'm writing this there's an event going on at the coffee shop I frequent called Weapons of Mass Construction which I've been ignoring. It's so far been a gathering of black people, spoken word poetry, an a Capella quintet and it's currently someone playing bongos or and some cymbals and such. I get anxious in group settings to begin with, I'm not apart of this group, I don't know any of these people, there are far too many for me to want to try. I'd be awkward and I'd focus on how I'm not like them.
I know I have a superiority complex, I don't know how to rectify myself with that other than acknowledging that I have one. Hell, a few years ago I was insulted when someone asked if I was from Hampton, a historically black city in Virginia. I guess compared to Norfolk it's well educated but I'm from Fairfax County, better educated. I speak proper English, I have the capacity to utilize a broad vocabulary when expressing myself and blah blah blah.
I'm never more aware of how rarely I'm around black people than when I'm around a bunch of black people I don't know. I do well enough with my family, they know what to expect out of me, I know how to present myself around them but I don't know how to deal with urban or rural black people. I'm not country, I'm not urban, I'm from a city of readers who like stupid sci-fi things, I listen to rock and I guess I'd generally be considered 'white' but I'm not white. To people who don't know me but would see me walking down the street, when I don't look like a man (I need to write out those instances here...they're fun and anxiety inducing), I don't know how often I look like someone from a bad neighborhood or poor education.
I generally don't notice or think of these things until I'm presented with a lot of what I'm not. I have the intelligence to hold my own around white people and not feel negatively judged but I sometimes feel if I were to act that way around black people I'd be judged for acting like something I'm not even if it is what I am. I'm making negative assumptions now, I'm no better than people on the street, but I don't know where I stand usually. If I ever see a black person like me on TV I'm the friend to the white person. When it's a black show it's some weird type of black person I don't relate to. I don't relate to Tyler Perry, I also never really related to Moesha when it was on in the 90s, I don't have black friends like that or live in a black community. I'm a black person in white communities and I need to learn how to be a black person around black people. I need to work at not making uneducated judgements about black people and accept how they act without acting like I'm better than them or thinking it, because it's probably not true. Everyone has their issues and the things that fuck with them, no matter the color of their skin, I just don't know how to do it because I don't spend time around black people that often.
I don't know what type of person I want to be but I think to figure that out I have to deal with and accept the type of black person I am. Hell, I never acknowledge that I'm Dominican either.
What I do know is I'm someone who draws, I'm someone who likes men, I'm someone who like reading, I'm someone dealing with anxiety problems, I'm someone who reads, I'm someone who has graduated college, I'm someone who happens to have brown skin, I'm someone who's over weight, I'm someone who has glasses, I'm someone who needs to understand who they are so they can become a better version of that.