Monday, October 04, 2004

"Before I Was Black"

-- October 4th, 2004 --

I was a White boy before I became a Black man. Armed with JCPenny's threads and Payless shoes. Even attended a Catholic private school. St. Patrick's elementary school was my stomping ground where at a young age I chased white girls... as we all did as young boys, playing "Capture the Girls". I stood out. Not just because I was Black, but because I had a temper. A part of it may have been because of that difference, but it surely wasn't understood by a 2nd grader whose friends were nothing but white. Kent, Ohio was definitely not a Hip-Hop hotspot. So, my attention was focused all-around when it came to music. In my household, old school sounds of Parliament and Stevie Wonder flowed beautifully. On my radio 93.1 WZAK played the R&B joints at the time. I, personally, loved Tony Toni Toné's "Anniversary" -- and after 10 o'clock it was the sounds of Hip-Hop which I taped every late night for the exclusive joint. But when I was in school -- it was all about "Under the Bridge" by Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day's "Dookie," "Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden, "Jeremy" by Pearl Jam, and anything by Nirvana was a topic of conversation with the bevy of Jacob's, Ann-Marie's, Danny's, and Fred's.

Going into the 6th grade things became different. I became aware as to difference between myself and "them". It began with my Social Studies class -- one of my favorites. It became apparent that my history didn't show up in my book. It was around that time when Blacks were pushing to get our history celebrated. I played my part -- going to such lengths as to getting Black History Month celebrated at St. Pat's. It didn't really fare well with the other students but my arrogance was definitely displayed that day. I mean, in these textbooks, they glanced over the Civil Rights, rewrote what happened with the "cultivation" of America, and never really mentioned slavery and its injustices. White people began rubbing me the wrong way. Their comments were no longer flattering. I began to feel like a mascot. Don't get me wrong, I don't take anything that I've learned at St. Pat's for granted, but I began to see how the games were being played. And I was no longer willing to be a participant in their games. I lashed out more. Whereas my temper had been subdued since my younger days, it re-emerged when confronted with things that I felt were right. I became a nuisance to my teachers, a problem with administration, and an outcast to my fellow classmates. The change was increased since I was hanging out with kids just like me from the public schools. There was still that difference amongst my own kind -- seeing as how I spoke "proper" or "white" and they were fluent in slanguistics. But that difference would be something that faded away with time.

I was a White boy before I became a Black man, and since I've made that change I'll be damn if I ever go back. I've learned a lot from being within the white society. Some things funny, some things that I wish would change -- but through it all -- I hold no regrets, because progress is always to be made forwardly.

Finally, graduating from 8th grade marked a transition from boyhood to becoming a man as I was leaving the safe confines of my private elementary school for the rigors of public High School. I was armed with my intelligence, self-confidence, and definitely an emergence of knowledge of self.


Blogger It's DANYA, Damnit! said...

You seem lost for some reason. I wonder why.

October 7, 2004 at 4:23 PM

Blogger Dayrell said...

Nice post brotha K-star'ra.... :)

But, really, sometimes I wonder. What does it REALLY mean to actually act/be "white" or "black"? (I mean, stereotypically speaking)

...b/c I was raised, my WHOLE life, around people just like me (black people) as well as ALL other race/ethnicities. I went to all public schools from elementary to high school, and, have always lived in "urban cities"... yet, I still listened to the same music that you did (or "white music" as you call it) and had some of the same discussions with my peers. Mmmm? So I wonder.

But, ya know, I CAN say that we have VERY similar arguments in reference to the deprivations of our black history teachings as a youth. That was the one thing I was secluded from most of all in ALL of my schools, being that majority of my teachers were white.---Ok, example: I mean, we all know that Egyptians did not have white skin. Come on now, I mean really. You can look at the World Map and see that.---However, this is what I saw continuously in my history books most of the time and/or was taught to believe (as a youth). And when they DID teach us black history, it was very little. So, when I finally DID learn the truth about my people many years caused me to develop a strongly-confined militant persona for many years. I mean, I've changed a little (becoming more open-minded to some things in a sense) but, my militant personality still takes over every now and then... :)

October 8, 2004 at 11:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Building…If I may…

On one hand, I feel what you’re sayin Mr. 330...

There was also a point when I realized that there was a difference. I can’t pinpoint it exactly, however…

There were the sleepovers at Stacy’s house. Where we’d do makeup and hair. “Can I do your hair?” And the most Stacy could do was change the barrette at the end of each neatly plaited cornrow. “How come you don’t wash your hair when you take a shower at night?”

Perhaps it was the way I became the spokesperson for African-Americans in History. “Don’t you think affirmative action is reverse discrimination?” “Why BET? There’s no WET.” “What’s the point of Black History Month? When is it again?”

Or maybe it was the spring break of my 9th grade year. I had no interest in lying out in the sun for hours, or asking my parents for money, just to go and waste it on alcohol and drink till I passed out, wake up the next afternoon, and think “dude, that was so awesome.”

However, noticing the difference, did not make me want to lash out or separate from these people that I had grown up with. Even though they will never understand why I love the extra thickness in my hips and thighs, and even though they may never appreciate many aspects of my culture, I understand that I am living in their society. Am I wrong for playing along?

I look across the way, as you have, at the ‘public school’. I notice that, yes, I am still hooked-on-phonics, while everyone else has up?-graded to ebonics. “But that difference would be something that faded away with time.” Why let it fade?

I was a privileged black girl that simply grew into a privileged black woman. I love the confines of my safe ‘private school’…and am grateful I have not had to experience hardship of the rigorous ‘public school’. I’m happy you have had both experiences though...always good to be well-rounded. Makes for more intellegent beings.

October 28, 2004 at 6:53 PM


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