radric davis and a question of my blackness
On March 26, 2017, I had the honor of watching my favorite rapper grace the stage at my alma mater. I never thought that I would be able to see such a visual representation of how I’ve felt my entire life. In many ways, his presence on my predominantly white campus represented the complexity of my blackness, how I’ve always struggled with my perceived “twoness,” and how my authenticity ranks questionably on a scale blemished by society’s flaws.
Growing up, I struggled with my blackness, and I often questioned it. I grew up in an interesting environment-- a nice house situated in the hood, I guess you could say. That blessing was the result of my parent’s hard work as well as their investment in their children and their futures. Unfortunately, things would change when my mom had to leave her profession due to injury and illness.
I can’t remember a moment that I wasn’t on free lunch, and I remember the first time I was able to go shopping for new school clothes like it was just yesterday. I was always enrolled in public schools. Eating out rarely happen, but we were lucky to always have ramen noodles or chicken and rice in the house. According to the state, my dad made “just enough.” Food stamps weren’t necessary. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that we were blessed and that my parents made the ultimate sacrifices for us. There were people that struggled way more than I did.
It may seem as though I’ve run off on a tangent, but to understand my inner-conflict, you have to understand my background. Context should be provided. I grew up in this setting that America typically always associates with a Black family in this country. But I was weird as hell.
Growing up, I always thought that I had to fit perfectly into the “stereotypical black girl” image that media and society birthed. The kids around me knew no better, and they thought the same thing. We were all blinded by stereotypes. Disapproval was easier than acceptance. I grew up a token black girl that loved Hot Topic and alternative rock. I wasn’t “black enough.” I remember being laughed at and told by my black peers that black girls didn’t listen to rock. I remember being told by white peers that my hair couldn’t possibly be real because black girls only wore weaves. I didn’t know where my place was in society-- or if I even deserved one.