"You from Brooklyn and you don't like rap? You ain't Black!"


In answer to the Day 2 Question “How ____ Are You?”

How Black am I.

I’ve always felt pretty black. I’ve always thought of myself as black. To others that I grew up with, however, I had a serious dearth in blackness. Being born in Brooklyn, NY and growing up in Barbados, I learned that people had a very skewed idea of what my blackness should be. I was from Brooklyn, a mecca of hip hop and home to arguably one of the greatest emcees to ever bless the mic, The Notorious B.I.G (r.i.p). Since I traveled back to Brooklyn every summer, It was expected that I would be up on the latest slang, I’d have the latest fashion, I’d have seen a dude get shot by Crips because he was wearing a red shirt, and dodged a few bullets myself. I listened to rap music religious and I personally knew Biggie since he was from brooklyn as well. This was the idea many of my schoolmates had in their heads of a black male from Brooklyn. I did not match that idea.

I was a nerd. Instead of keeping up with slang, I wanted to learn Japanese. I wore my clothes close-fitting and didn’t care for fashion. I didn’t like rap. I didn’t know Biggie personally and I may have dodged a few bullets before but that was where the similarities ended. Who I was was not what they thought I should have been and so I was told I was not black enough and was labeled an Oreo. All the white people I knew were Barbadian and were the same as everyone else. I never understood the title. Most, if not all of my Black-checkers hadn’t even been to Brooklyn, so how could they even tell me how a black male from Brooklyn was suppose to be.

Nevertheless, it did upset me and led me to question my identity as a black person for some time. It was only when I returned to live in Brooklyn a few years ago that I truly began to think about the idea of blackness and black identity. I soon realized and understood that there are many different nuances of Blackness that exists and that who I am, as a Black person, what my identity is, is perfectly fine. I learned that I am the arbiter of my own blackness.