This past weekend my friends and I hit the NOLA streets for “Art’s For Art’s Sake.” After touring a few cool downtown galleries we found ourselves at Barcadia. We were having a good time, enjoying being young and free, when one of our favorite records came on. We proceeded to dance (in our seats I might add), with our drinks in hand and made snapchat videos. Well, as we were having a grand time, I took a look around at the crowd (whom was mostly White) and realized that people were giving us very confused looks. As my friends continued to dance and have fun, it dawned on me, we were being minimalized as being the “rowdy Black kids.” Suddenly the confused faces began to make sense. Yes, it was a Saturday night. And yes, people are suppose to be having fun. So why were people so troubled by us having a good time? And furthermore why did I feel the need to tame my behavior?
Like many African-American people that I know, I often feel when I enter a room or place I represent my ENTIRE culture. Therefore because I want my people, Black people, to be represented correctly I always have to be “on.” In other words, unless you are one of my closest friends, I can never really let my guard down around you, because quite honestly I never want to be looked at as being a Black stereotype. Now many of you all may be saying, “Well people don’t let their guards down anyway unless they are comfortable being around them.” However, for most Black people (and other minorities) it’s not that simple, and this is a constant struggle. We aren’t allowed to have a good time without being look as being loud or having poor manners (see example of this here). Or we can’t mispronounce a word, without being looked at as being uneducated. It’s quite exhausting, and it’s just not fair. I’m so done with over-compensating for my entire culture, because I’m scared we won’t be represented correctly. Newsflash, Black people are allowed to live and enjoy life just like everyone else. We shouldn’t be expected to combat stereotypes everyday.
As Dr. King said so eloquently, people should be judged by the content of their character not by the color of their skin. It’s time we stop looking at one person to represent an entire culture, or should I say misrepresent it. Everyone on this earth was born an individual, no matter what their genealogy is. Also, it’s time to start calling people out on their bad-behavior, and not making excuses for it. The dirty looks my friends and I recieved were just uncalled for, and very uncomfortable.
I hope this post provokes some thought, and starts some much needed conversations. The only way change will happen is if we begin to have open dialogues as a people. Stop worrying about being politically correct, and just begin talking to one another, I guarentee we’ll begin to see a change within our society.
Well Until Next Time Kids,