Facts Of Lyfe.

Life Entry #3- Black Skin, Black Mask (Part 1)

Hello everyone, it has been about five months since I have last posted due to many reasons. Of course I could list a bunch of excuses but I will refrain from doing so and just continue where I left off. Talking about life, or lyfe in this case?

In the next few posts I will carry on with the same format, just without the video portion this time because I have another plan for my vlogging endeavors in the future. The first video I will post relates to my recent three-week adventure in China, and since the excursion is fresh on my mind I will also take some time to explain my journey in the next few blog postings starting next week.

In other words, I am back with another Life Entry! And honestly, what better way to start off the week then to talk about the african-american experience. Specifically, my experience because it differs from some of my counterparts in ways that people may find interesting.

One of the most eye-opening things, in my opinion, is to converse with someone who can give you a new perspective by countering your thought process or even building upon the foundation. During my trip in China, I had conversations with a wonderful person who was able to get me thinking about my personal relationship with the black community.

From elementary through high school I became one of the few african-americans in my grade levels. Since I did not have many people like me in my classes, my mom placed me into the 100 Black Men mentorship program to gain more exposure to career paths and other african-american students my age.

My mentor in the program was and still is absolutely wonderful, representing the type of entrepreneur I can only dream of becoming. Nevertheless, the students in the program made me feel a different kind of feeling. Whether they realized it or not, a lot of them made me feel isolated. “Oreo” was the term used to describe my personality by most people when I was in middle school. Oreo, in this case, meaning that I was outwardly appearing black but had “white mannerisms” at the core of my personality Well, that term has been used to describe my personality many times by people of my own community or color in particular.

When african-americans state that they have had negative experiences with people saying “you speak so eloquently” or things of that nature, I agree. However, this has happened to me on numerous occasions equally from both white and black individuals.

During my time in the 100 Black Men mentorship program, I felt isolated because students would never include me. They ostracized me because I didn’t use the same terminology as them or act in the same manner. In order to fit in and be accepted, I realized after a few years that I would unfortunately have to change myself. At this moment in time, I feel like my “double-consciousness” formed into what it is today. W.E.B DuBois coined this phrase to describe the black experience as “always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others.” During his period in time, it was used to depict the duality of having an African heritage while being raised in an American society. The two are seen as conflicting attributes that wage an internal war within african-americans. For me, this “war” consisted of a different battlefront.

My entire personality began to shift to two distinct sides, my “black” side and my “white” side. Yes, this actually occurs to the point where I can not control it sometimes. It has been ingrained in me to sound completely different when talking to someone depending on a person’s racial background. I am not saying just different speech patterns, I mean different colloquialisms and mannerisms altogether. It is as if I have two different people living inside of me. There is another side that I failed to mention, the side that I show to those closest to me and myself. It is more of a blend between these two halves that can never be completely balanced when I am in the midst of social interactions. When alone or at ease, I can simply utilize these two parts as one in the same.

Okay, so this probably sounds like some hidden ability or superpower but the implications of this “double-consciousness” are actually more damaging than one may think. As mentioned before, I have felt isolated by my black community due to my “oreo personality,” and welcomed by members of the white community because of my “stark differences” from the stereotypical african-american. Do you see the problem here?

I am not saying that I have had problems with all black people or all white people, what I am trying to say is that I personally am trapped in thought about how both communities are “supposed to act” according to these stereotypes and have trouble discovering where I belong in the mold. As an adolescent noticing my differences, I saw them as veering from the norm and being “weird” instead of acknowledging my differences as being a product of my true-self.

Both white and black people have stereotypes enforced in their minds by society. Whether we choose to accept this or not, they impact everyone. I am still trying to figure out where I belong in the mix, and choose to not compromise my personality traits to do so. The idea of race should not have a “one size fits all” philosophy because that gives way to hasty generalizations or more importantly, stereotypes. Realize that even some african-americans try to fit into stereotypes because they feel that is what they are supposed to do to be accepted by society or even their peers on both sides. Take a moment to understand that I have once felt like an imposter in my own skin, making myself feel like I am not black because I am not the ideal or even stereotypical black male. Everyone feels inadequate in different ways, and for me, I feel inadequate in my own race by those who continue to perpetuate the stereotype as absolute.

Nothing is absolute, I am an african-american male who takes pride not only in my racial background but also my personality which penetrates deeper than my skin. Remember to never judge a book by its cover and never assume that everyone from one race act in one way because I believe we all have moments where we think this, including myself. Being african-american is only one of my many identities and to be honest, I do not see it as the most impactful to me. Probably the second or third most impactful to my character thus far. The identity that has shaped me the most will have to remain a surprise until next time!

Hopefully this is enough for now, if it feels like I have left a lot out the reason is due to length. This is already pretty lengthy so expect there to be a part two sometime soon that goes into more depth because currently I am just scratching the surface.

Sorry that I am just getting back into the swing of things everyone! I know it has been a long time since I last posted but I am still going to discipline myself to post something each day from Monday through Thursday. Be prepared for more of this topic and please feel free to challenge, question, or comment on anything you want to speak on. I will be sure to respond. On that note, have a great day everyone!

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