by Jamie Floyd
I’m black and I’m back to tackle more pressing topics. To anyone who did not like or agree with me last time, well, too bad!
Recently, as I covered Black History Month for The Plant, I realized how little I knew about my own culture. Of course, I am aware of common facts regarding the Slave Trade, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Black Panthers; but, it was my lack of awareness of lesser-known events that shocked me. For example, the history of everyday black slaves in Montreal, the 1969 Concordia University riot when six black students accused a teacher of grading them unfairly based on their race, and the original definition of the n-word.
These mostly unknown facts have led me to question my own heritage, to question what it means to be black, or to identify oneself with any of the ethnic groups such as Latino, Middle Eastern, Asian, or Caucasian. I can honestly say that I have never felt “Black”. I do not particularly like rap music; I do not play basketball or football, nor do I want to; I do not love chicken wings; I have never drank cool-aid; and I don’t like Tyler Perry movies. These are a few highly offensive black stereotypes that have sunk into our common consciousness and which are sadly repeated, especially by blacks to blacks.
I have been told that I am “being white” and called an “Oreo” because I am black on the outside but white on the inside. These terms used to be very offensive to me but, recently, I have embraced them as compliments. I assume it means that I am not some tacky stereotype, but my own individual person. However, they are offensive, because they suppose that there is an overall black personality type.
Essentially, these comments mean that all blacks are the same, and we can be identified by our likes and our actions. Saying things like, “you’re not black” or “you’re so white” perpetuates the notion that being black, or being part of any other ethnic group, is a genetic predisposition to be born with a bag of qualities, tastes, and a general way of being that is the same for everyone in your ethnic group. We have all heard sayings like, “Asians can’t drive,” which might be funny to some but, imagine being defined solely by your heritage and culture? It instantly dictates what you are capable of and supposed to do. While I love being black, and I am sure that you also love being a part of your own ethnicity, we should not be defined by it absolutely. What should really identify someone with a group is their knowledge and devotion of and to it. I have learnt a lot about black history and now wish to involve myself heavily within my community. I challenge you to do the same and not be a small-minded fool.
Oreo for life!