Is Being Black More Than Just Skin Tone
Is Being Black More Than Just Skin Color?
If you follow the musings portion of my blog, you may have read what I posted about an incident that occurred to me in a Facebook group a while ago. Here is a brief overview of what happened.
I joined a natural hair group on Facebook, one day I decided to share a video I found on Youtube that discusses a trend toward blacks ostracizing mixed girls who wear their hair naturally. Apparently they feel that the Natural Movement belongs to them. The girl in the video was discussing a strange phenomenon that seems to be occurring in the African American Community among some Black Purists who feel that mixed girls have somehow hijacked the natural hair movement. I posted to the video with the intention of saying all mixed girls do not have good hair. However; everything about my post, my language, the girl's video, my profile picture, my hair grade, and everything in between was blasted. When I made the post, I told my personal story of how I had never felt comfortable with my hair until I recently embraced going natural. For years I wore wigs or weaves because I was ashamed of my hair. I was called names in the group for being ashamed of my hair.
I was a little shocked, I am over 50 now, why curse me out for something I can not undo? If I could go back 25 years ago to talk to my younger self, I would tell her to love yourself and to stop fretting. You are beautiful just as you are, I wish I could do that, sadly can not. The conversation in the natural hair group took an uncomfortable turn because downplaying my own hair was somehow misconstrued as an insult to girls with 4c hair. I thought I had 4 quality hair and they just about burned me alive from the flames.
I had always been told as I was growing up that I had "bad hair", but the girls in the group almost kicked me out of the group for saying that. It is apparently taboo to say that in a natural hair group these day. Some people even began to demand that I break down my lineage. I tried to explain it as best as possible. The issue is this, although I am mixed with a Black, Latina, and Ashkenazi Jewish blood, the word "mixed" today means "with White." Just aligning myself with mixed people in that group somehow made me an enemy. Some girls viewed my profile page, where I proudly display pictures of me with my British husband. Yes, I admit it. I have a mixed family and this did not help my cause at all. I was attacked from all sides as though by a pack of wolves. There were over 600 flames. It taught me a huge lesson. It was an eye opening experience.
I realized that I do not know much about being Black. I mean I know what I have picked up over the years, and I know what comes to me naturally, but I live a very solitary life. I have no real exposure to anyone accept my daughter and her friends, or my church community. I have no actual interaction with Blacks unless they are friends of my daughter's or I know someone on Facebook. This is sad, but true. I am grateful for my daughter who although also married to a white man, has no problems creating multiple positive relationships with ALL people. It is a gift she has.
This entire situation made me wonder about something, is being Black more than just a skin tone? There is apparently so much information I do not know about being black? I am not exactly sure what I am doing wrong or what I could do differently (if anything), but I have zero Black friends in real life, apart from online acquaintances or family from afar. I literally know no Black people at all personally. (other than my daughter's friends). How did this happen?!!! How did I become such an isolated Black person? Is it because I am fiercely independent? I listen to the beat of a different drummer, maybe no one else can hear that beat but me. Even the church I attend is predominantly white, I have been a Mormon more than 30 years. I raised my daughter in the church as a Mormon as well. There are very few Blacks in the church. Every so often, someone Black might investigate or even get baptized, but they never hang around for long. I have been a Mormon for 30 years, so I believe that this could have altered my life experience with other Blacks somewhat.
I am trying to learn what everyone else seems to know from Facebook Groups and YouTube videos, but there definitely a cultural divide that exists that I know very little (if anything) about. I am Black in appearance, but I have no exposure to anyone Black. (Other than my daughter or online.) If I move to England with my husband, my exposure to Blacks will be even further limited.
How did this happen? How did I become so culturally isolated? How did I miss it all? I thank goodness for a daughter who is in college and is culturally active. If it was not for her, I would literally not know anything about my people living in the 21st Century. Now that I am painfully aware of my deficit of Black experience in my life, I have begun to look for more opportunities to attend events that will improve my knowledge of Black Culture. I feel as though I was more culturally aware of being with Blacks when I lived in Alaska. This may have been due to the Black Community being so small and compact up there. The Black Community in Alaska banded together. We sought each other out and we did things to unite each other. Now that I live in the lower 48, people, especially Black people, have not been easy to befriend offline. It has been over 25 years and I still have made no actual real Black friends or acquaintances. This is sad, but it is the world I live in. Thank goodness for the Internet. It allows for all types of people from a multitude of places to interact with one another. Everything I know, I learned off of Facebook and YouTube. The crazy thing is that I even met my husband on Facebook, he just was not Black. We gravitated to each other naturally like magnets. He is my penguin.
In conclusion, I believe now that being Black is more than just a skin tone. There is an entire culture I am missing out on! I might be Black in heritage, but I still have to LEARN the culture to LEARN how to fit in with other blacks. It is not inherently known information as one would believe. In fact, I was publicly attacked by hundreds of women who told me I know nothing about being Black. I hate to admit that I agree with them but I do. My mother was a free spirit. She was color blind. She loved everyone. She taught me how to live the same way. I never realized I was supposed to be a certain way, know a certain culture, say certain words or behave in a certain ways simply because the color my skin is brown.
Whatever I am, I am apparently not like the others, and they told me so vehemently. I know what it feels like to be an outcast. I know what it is like to be different. In my heart, I am just another person of color. To some I am the enemy. Not Black enough to be Black, not white enough to be White, not exposed enough to the Latin heritage to be exclusively Latina. It has been a difficult road over the last few months with people bringing attention to my inability to fit in. I realize now that being Black is more than just a skin tone, there is obviously an inner world of Blackness that I still know nothing about. At least I am learning so much now and that is what matters most. Better later than never.
About The Author: Adrienne Igo has more than 20 years in the Recruitment Industry, she runs several small online businesses and is an online social and digital media consultant. Adrienne Igo once was 500 pounds and spent more than 7 years in a wheelchair before beginning a personal weight loss journey in 2013. She went from a size 54 dress to a size 12. She currently has over 500 dance and motivational videos on YouTube.
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