Today while getting my hair retwisted, my hair stylist BJ mentioned her daughter who is in school. This conversation led to a discussion that her daughter (who is black) had pledged with a sorority in which she is the only person of color in her chapter. I said, “good for her!” And BJ says: I raised her that way, to be comfortable no matter who is around her. Where I come from (California) I was the only black girl many times.
I told her I understood. That I’d experienced that several times myself, moving around as an army brat. From elementary school until 8th grade, I could count the number of minority students in my class on one hand. But like BJ raised her daughter, my parents raised me to be comfortable with myself, regardless.
As we talked, another story came out of BJ–one that involved her daughter being called an Oreo (you know, black on the outside/white on the inside). She said she couldn’t believe it. That’s just so stupid.
It is. But when you’re younger and your peers of the same race accuse you of not belonging because you enunciate very clearly and you’re in the gifted group and your best friend is Mandy, who is just so white, you tend not to realize that “Oreo” is truly an insult of the dumbest order.
And that realization hovers at your peripheral when your cousins just straight up call you white-girl, insisting you’re too good to play their games. Until finally (I hope) you snap and say something to the effect that it’s just too bad that they think black people aren’t allowed to speak properly/without dialect. That it’s pathetic that they think the only good friends are those who match your skin color. That it’s downright sad that being smart is reserved for white-girls. Well, what if I’m smart, too? And who would want to play your dumb game anyway? ‘Cause believe me: my book is way better.
Suffice it to say words weren’t enough and my cousins, myself and my sisters went tumbling through the house, kicking and screaming and scratching and biting until the winner stood victorious, hair in crazy tufts, novel in hand.
So, I told BJ I was glad her daughter was comfortable with herself. And that friends can be found everywhere. That nothing is reserved just for white people.
I wished that we all taught our daughters like this.