Black America is groomed to expect certain things. The Temptations version of “Silent Night” during the holidays, spades games at family gatherings, amazing marching bands and football homecomings in the fall, zesty chili or gumbo as soon as the weather breaks, and darker skin during the dog days of summer. We understand it, it’s routine, and we embrace the beauty associated with it.
Not only do we accept the beautiful routines of our brown lives, we’ve learned to cope with the things that non-black people may not quite understand. We’ve learned to accept Kanye West’s rants as artistic expression. We pat him on the head and say “Now now there suga, it’s ok, shut up and go make another album.” Hell, we can even detect someones hand reaching towards our hair and slide just beyond reach in lightning speed (inside joke). We’ve learned to absorb the micro-aggression’s masked in comments like “You speak really well,” and “I didn’t expect that of you,” from colleagues and peers.
On the flip side, there are some things that we expect every year that wreck our brains, and honestly… truly- we’re pissed off about them. Black people are tired of Emmy snubs. Black people are pissed at Grammy snubs. Black people are sick of not being equally represented at the Oscars. Black people are tired of seeing black people being killed at the hands of police disproportionately and irrationally. And to the point of this article… Black people are tired of the overall lack of acknowledgement and ignorance of people when it comes to racism in this country.
First off, yes I did lump Grammy snubs and police brutality in the same bucket. I felt like it. It’s these little things we have to manage, day-in and day-out. Eventually people get tired and these little things erupt into Watts Riots, Baltimore Riots, and Ferguson Riots. Hell, the only time the media will say our community belongs to us is when we’re angry and tearing it up. Any other time, let them tell it, we don’t own ‘ish, we don’t recycle dollars into our community, and pookie nem don’t vote.
I’m sure you’ve seen this picture, if you haven’t, it’s an image from a student at the University of Central Arkansas. Yes. He wore black face for Halloween like some ignorant people choose to do every year. And before I go any further, I must tell you that I attended this school for 4-years and earned a Bachelors of Science in Political Science at this institution. I have not been paid for this post, nor do I hold an official capacity at my Alma mater. UCA handled this situation swiftly and strongly. The young man has already been expelled (from the fraternity), an investigation is underway, and a statement condemning the situation was made by University officials within hours.
Although the situation has been handled, I am very saddened by the incident. Not because it happened (As I mentioned before, at this point we expect someone to do it every year), but because I personally know how this institution transformed my life, as well as, the lives of so many other African American people. While in undergrad at UCA, I was heavily involved and held leadership positions in organizations like: Students for the Propagation of Black Culture, Griot Society, Black Men United, and others. I met so many great people at this school.
I worked alongside amazing leaders, black and white. We worked to understand racial-barriers and used them to effectively solve community, collegiate, and social issues in the city of Conway, AR. I simply hate that this school is now known as the school with kid who wore black-face. That is not who we are, and that is not what we stand for.
The image that immediately followed this incident however, reminded me of who we are:
Caption: “My Culture Is Not A Costume”
The image you see here isn’t the click bait that’ll be national headlines. It’s not the sizzle story of the day or the hour. It is the image of young men being transformed into leaders. Leaders who are consciously aware of who they are and the world around them. It should be the lasting impression you have of the students at the University of Central Arkansas. GO BEARS.
They take my kindness for weakness.
They take my silence for speechless.
They consider my uniqueness strange.
They call my language slang.
They see my confidence as conceit.
They see my mistakes as defeat.
They consider my success accidental.
They minimize my intelligence to “potential”.
My questions mean I’m unaware.
My advancement is somehow unfair.
Any praise is preferential treatment.
To voice concern is discontentment.
If I stand up for myself, I’m too defensive.
If I don’t trust them, I’m too apprehensive.
I’m deviant if I separate.
I’m fake if I assimilate.
My character is constantly under attack.
Pride for my race makes me “TOO BLACK”.