Recently a complex set of circumstances resulted in me being at a house party. Not a party in someone’s house, but a party at which only house music was played. By the legendary Louis Vega no less…whoever the fuck that is. And even though I really like house music, a house party is not a place where you should ever go looking for Max. I don’t go to parties like that because – to be perfectly frank – they’re filled with White people. Not that I have anything against White people – I grew up in a very White city and some of my favourite people from my past are melanin-deficient. It’s simply that I am the kind of Black person who really (really) prefers to be around Black people.
The people I went to the party with were Black; new friends who I liked very much. But as I stood in the party, gritting my teeth as I was bumped into from every direction by drunk, staggering, hyper White people, I couldn’t help looking at them (and the few other Black people at the party) with equal parts derision and incredulity. If I was the type of person to make scenes at parties, I would have grabbed them by their shoulders and screamed “HOW can you LIKE this? What kind of Black people are you?!?”
The answer, of course, is simple. A different kind than I.
These are the kind of Black people who don’t see the world filtered through race. They don’t choose which events they attend based on the race of the attendees or read books because of the race of the author. They don’t automatically cheer for the Black guy on their favourite reality TV show and when they start a new job, they don’t immediately befriend the one other Black guy. This kind of Black person is comfortable having no Black friends or living in a city where there are no Black people. They don’t choose their political party based on the fact that its leader has jungle fever
like I did. They just do what they do, go where they go, like what they like…whether those things happen to be “black” or not.
I used to be this kind of Black person myself. When I was a
naive teenager who wanted an identity for myself beyond my race I went out of my way to shun any- and everything I considered Black and opted instead for whatever was considered cool at the time. I wanted to develop a personality beyond “the black girl” and refused to listen to the music, go to the parties, or befriend the people the world expected me to just because they were Black.
Then I discovered A Different World and it changed my life. The music, the clothes, the slang that I’d been avoiding were now being used by the coolest cast of characters ever on a Thursday night. Every week there was something new to learn about and the longer it went on, the more I learned that Black culture is effing cool.
These days, I am pretty much the opposite of the way I was in high school. After spending so much time rejecting my Blackness, I do my best to OD on it now. And because of that, I find it hard to process it when I meet Black people like my house-party friends who don’t seem to feel the same way. Although it’s totally unfair, when I meet Black people who seem not to make their race the centre and object of their existence, I can help wondering why. And I can’t help judging them for what I presume their reasons to be.
There’s much more I could say about this, but I’d much rather hear your thoughts. Have you ever felt like an outsider because of your race or culture? Do you ever downplay it to make it easier to fit in? Am I being a judgmental asshole?? Speak on it in the comments.
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