"Why do you talk like that?"


in response to Has Anyone Ever Questioned Your Authentic Blackness

The first time I ever ran into this issue was first grade. At that time, my family lived in a poorer part of the city and I went to a majority Black school. I often had exchanges like this:

"Why do you talk like that?"

"Like what?"

"Proper"

"…Um"

"Are you mixed?"

Being a little kid, I didn’t really see how those two questions related, but needless to say, they were always paired together.   It was if the only way to explain why I talked “proper” was for me to be of some other race.

In high school, it wasn’t so subtle. I went to a school in the suburbs where almost everyone was White, Christian, and middle class. I once had a classmate (he was White) question me about my taste in music. After saying I didn’t listen to a lot of rap, he replied, “Are you really Black? You don’t talk Black. You don’t listen to rap. I don’t think you’re Black.”

Y’know, because my race is defined by only those things. I’m only glad I never thought to change myself into something I wasn’t.