Nothing disturbs me more than the issue of racism/discrimination and people who try to classify races with their ways of doing common things like talking, walking, style of dress.
I’m black and intelligent, I enjoy watching shows like Sex in the City and Friends, as well as listening to music by Gwen Stefani and Fergie. I enjoy shopping at stores like American Eagle and Hollister, and many say that I speak well.
Believe it or not, there are many students that would say that I “act white” just by reading the first few sentences of this article. To those that feel there is a such thing as “acting black” or “acting white,” one choice over another does not lessen an individual’s ethnicity.
What is “acting black” or “acting white”?
Society has established the stereotype that blacks are loud, ignorant and “ghetto,” while the image of whites is set as conservative and intellectual. The term “ghetto” is used so loosely today that we have completely ignored that it originates from the referral to the Venetian Ghetto.
According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Web site, ghettos were enclosed city districts where the Nazis in Germany concentrated the Jewish population and forced them to live under miserable conditions. It also stated that Nazis regarded the establishment of ghettos as a provisional measure to control and segregate Jews.
Now the term is used to label an area occupied by a minority group as a result of social or economic status, or in most cases, to describe an ethnic group. Germans used the term to control and segregate Jews, just as society makes use of the term to control and separate the image of blacks from that of whites.
To those who argue that “speaking white” is speaking well, are you saying that when a black individual speaks it is less intelligible than a white individual?
When someone tells me that I “act white,” I feel as though they are degrading my race.
Looking at my complexion it’s evident that I am black, but because I am one of the many blacks that disprove of these stereotypes, I am seen as “acting white.” It’s not about “acting black” or “acting white,” it’s about having common sense and disproving the stereotypes that society has placed upon us.
If there is a white man wearing “thuggish” apparel using street terms and enjoys listening to Lil’ Wayne and Plies, we automatically label him as trying to “act black.” It’s poignant that many blacks cannot seem to overlook the stereotypes when labeling their own race.
Am I turning my back on my race simply because I prefer to be conservative and use proper English?
Am I less black because I appreciate different genres of music rather than narrowing my options to only rap and R&B? The answer is no, I am still 100% black. Issues that affect the black race affects me. My lifestyle does not dictate my ethnicity.
Brittany McCrary is a sophomore magazine production student from Kansas City, Mo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org