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Tales of the 'alternative' black girl

by Jaymi Gooden - Campus Talk Editor
Wed, May 3rd 2017 02:15 pm
Photo taken from Pixabay 

The alternative A lot of people carry around preconceived notions about what black women are like. The truth is that everyone is different and not everyone has to live out stereotypes, or shatter them completely.
Photo taken from Pixabay The alternative A lot of people carry around preconceived notions about what black women are like. The truth is that everyone is different and not everyone has to live out stereotypes, or shatter them completely.

Alternative, by definition of the good 'ole Webster dictionary is defined as one or more things available as another possibility. Alternative is not to be confused with inadequate which by definition by that same 'ole Webster book is defined as lacking the quality required; unfit or insufficient for a purpose. Alternative describes another way. Inadequate deems one way as not good enough. Does everyone know the difference? Cool. Now, give me back my black card.

In my proud, strong black family, I've long been designated as the "white girl." Far too often my similar in age siblings come to me with the newest rap song blaring in their headphones asking, "Jaymi, have you heard this new rapper?" Sometimes, I say yes, but on the frequent occasion when I say, "I'm not sure," or "Maybe I've heard them before," I'm given a reply that goes something like this: "How could you not know this song? Ugh, Jaymi, you are so white!"

I'm so what?

 I'm five feet and eleven inches tall. Above average for the typical African-American female. I'm slightly obese. Not unusual for the typical African-American female. I read... a lot. I own a Kindle. I listen to Tupac, Common, Young MA, Remy Ma and Kendrick Lamar. I also like Labyrinth, Florence + The Machine, John Mayer, Corinne Bailey and old Disney songs. I watch "My Wife & Kids" and "Sister, Sister" reruns on BET but I also listen to NPR and have the TED Talk app proudly installed on my beat down android. I don't consider myself overtly religious but still participate when my Baptist mother wants to bless dinner. I love soul food. I also like sushi and finally, as a fellow Ravenclaw, I'm always down for an ABC Family "Harry Potter" marathon. 

"Wow, Jaymi. I'm blacker than you are," one friend said to me once.

She was white. I didn't respond to her comment but I should have because I was pissed.

Since when does an individual's personality, quirks and all, determine whether or not they do their ethnicity justice? Also, since when is an entire race defined by the miscellaneous pop culture junk that orbits the globe.

Dear white people, listening to bad, mainstream rap music doesn't make you an honorary black person. Nor does it give you the right to define me based on a culture that one, you'll never fully understand and two, is misconstrued anyway by your own false definitions of what it means to be black.

Dear black people, stop belittling black girls and boys who stray from "the norm" in the African-American culture. First, you're instilling this belief that all black girls are the same when that's clearly not the case. You're creating what Jazz Guillet of SUNY Binghamton described as "an establishment."

"What is the establishment that I am differing from?" Guillet asked in her article, "Thoughts of an Alternative Black Girl," for The Odyssey, from which I got my inspiration. "Is it the idea of the 'authentic black girl?' The black girl who has large hoop earrings, who is loud and angry, who only listens to rap? Not every black girl is like that. So why is it that for me to be considered a black girl, I must add alternative to my description?"

Like Guillet, I've had more than my fair share of piercings and also like Fall Out Boy, who Guillet named as one of her favorite bands in the aforementioned article. Guillet goes onto claim that labeling certain black girls as "alternative," is the equivalent of saying, "You're not like other black people." As if being different and liking different things makes her and me and similar girls somehow "better." 

"I am no better than my fellow black sisters because I have other interests," Guillet said.

I whole-heartedly agree. I love being black. My black is truly beautiful as are my sisters who are polar opposites of me, and that's just fine. Black girls come in different shades, sizes, demeanors and personalities. Don't make any of us out to be less worthy or more worthy just because we fit too well or don't fit at all into your little cultural boundary box. Now, if you'll excuse me, that "Harry Potter" marathon won't watch itself!

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