A few weeks ago, I was meeting my roomate’s family while helping her move in when I overheard her grandmother mention my name.
She said, “Trinity is black, but she don’t talk black.”
I froze in place. It had been so long since I heard someone say something like that. I don’t think anyone knows what to do or say when in such a situation.
I thought to myself, “What does that even mean?’
You can’t talk a color. That’s not a thing.
I don’t know why we’ve gotten to a place where as a culture, and as a race, if you sound as though you have more than a sixth-grade education, it’s a bad thing.
I won’t apologize for using standard English.
Is the way I talk somehow supposed to represent my ethnicity? Does the way I speak somehow mean that I am less black than everyone else?
Maybe it means that I don’t fit the stereotype of a black person. When thinking of a black person, you may imagine the “ghetto” accent because apparently that is how people distinguish the light-skinned from the dark-skinned.
I don’t have to prove my blackness to anyone or show anyone my “black card.” I am so tired of people my own race telling me that I’m not black because I don’t listen to rap or because my hair isn’t kinky.
Not every black person talks the same or likes the same things.
I am not afraid to admit that I think Taylor Swift’s new album is incredible or that I use sunscreen so I don’t get burned. Melanin is great, but it can’t always protect me.
My dad likes to joke and say I am the whitest black person that anyone could ever meet, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not black.
I am very much aware of the stereotypes that come with being brown-skinned. I feel so out of place sometimes because I feel I’m too dark for my white friends but too light for my dark friends.
I will admit that sometimes I don’t understand what slang my black friends use. I don’t always know what song they play in the car, let alone who the artist is. I don’t text or use lots of emojis the way they do, and I get made fun of.
I don’t mind though. Watching them sing along and scream the lyrics at the top of their lungs while moving side to side is one of my favorite things about them.
I like learning what products they use for their natural hair and what kind of weaves are their favorites. They love styling my hair and suggesting what extensions I should get if I ever wanted some.
These are my friends though, so I don’t have to prove how black I am to them. They love me for who I am as do my white friends. I am a mix of both worlds, and I am proud of that.
I don’t talk black, and I don’t talk white. No one can talk a color. We all have a different way of speaking to one another.
Blackness comes in all shades, cultures, classes and experiences. There’s no guide to being black.
Language, much like my blackness, is universal.