If there’s ever a time to be black, it’s now. That’s what I would say to my daughter, at five at seventeen at thirty nine. I want her to be full of so much self worth the very bounce in her step makes those around her admire her. The woman I was raised by taught me that, she did it with empathy for the adversity we all face, and pride of the power that binds us as a people.
I have spoken about the issues I have faced with my counterparts and I will never stop commentating as they unfold. The walking on eggshells around presumptions of me as a person based on my cultural background will never be taken lightly. However I think some responsibility needs to be taken by black people as well.
I should explain to those who query the notion of “black” within the context of this piece. This is a personal opinion in which you can of course disagree with. Quite simply when I say black I am referring to both sides of my bloodline, my indigenous ancestry and my pacific islander ancestry.
“We’re too black for the white people, and too white for the black people” the same woman that taught me that the kink in my hair and the bronze of my skin was worth celebrating told me that. I agreed, I still agree.
Some of my biggest self doubts were initiated by the prejudice of a white person toward black people. Some were a black person questioning weather I was black enough.
Which side of town do you live, which high school do you attend, do you use the slang, can you speak Fijian, do you play league tag, do you wear your flag, do you dress like us, hang out with us?
I can only explain the idea of being black as a club, a very exclusive one that has all of these sublets based on your culture. Within the culture there is sublets of the town in which you live, who your family is and family history etc.
I found myself kicked out of multiple sublets of these clubs, having made a habit of it. Look I don’t know if it’s obvious but all the stereotypical black girl interests seemed to have hurdled over my afro during socialisation.
First of all an individuals interests are not synonymous with their culture. Of course it can influence you, but how absurd for us to scream and shout “don’t make assumptions based on my blackness” but question those who think of their “blackness” differently to you.
Secondly, this perception of black; the standing up and demanding that THIS is what black is and everything else is compromising culture. Is a fault bigger than racism, its self destruction and its ours to claim.
My best friends are white. They were present at some of the happiest moments of my life and they held my hand when life as I knew it changed forever.
They calm me down when I want to riot, make me laugh to the point of tears, clean me up when I truly am crying. I have been called rude, stuck up, a coconut- My own people question my blackness because I choose to love girls that have never seen colour in the years that I’ve known them.
I’m dating a white man. Which I will admit was not a notion I considered. By default my future spouse was supposed to reflect the men that raised me. He would darken in the sun like my father, keep his afro trimmed like my brothers, stand tall and broad like my uncles.
It was important to me that the person I was allowing into the darkest corners of my being understood what we as a people went through everyday.
It’s important to my family as well, more often than not it trickles into conversation. A few times now he has been referred to as my “white boyfriend” and I shudder with each syllable. I would burn with the light of thousands of my ancestors if I were called his “black girlfriend”. Sometimes when we argue or he mentions something about the way that I act.
I think that our differences run deeper than personality. I wonder if its cultural and I wonder how I explain the nineteen years of life that bought me to this point.
Without making this a post about my love life I will say this; genuine love transcends colour. I know that now, and it will never be untaught.
To any black men and women reading I have dated black men that feel less for black people than a blatant racist. It is not the blood in your veins but the thoughts instilled in your mind that determine your opinions.
If our morals do not waver, if our pride does not stand down, if our history is passed on; then there is no facet our culture that can be “watered down”. You sit down and you create the dialogue with the people around you. Explain why something is inappropriate or why it’s expected. Explain our history, explain our quirks and expectations. If they love you they will learn our ways as we have learnt theirs for so long.
It is not my moral obligation to be anyone’s definition of black. I will represent those before us, teach those around us and pave the way for those following us. To be black is an evolution. At five, at nineteen and thirty seven what it means to be black will be different. You do not forget your past, but you solidify your future by any means necessary.
To evolve is not to compromise, to evolve is to survive. The women and men I am raising with teach me that. My black cannot be compromised. My black does not falter. My black is black enough.