February 15, 2006


My college roommate senior year was black. She was a nice enough girl, but we had Culture Clash on more than one occasion. One of the most disheartening things I ever witnessed was her relationship with an African student. Not an African-American, an actual African. This guy was one of the most genuine and friendly people I've ever met, and smart too. He and my husband had many business and economics classes together, and he was active in speech/debate. He also belonged to a fraternity. Real nice guy. But apparently he wasn't Black Enough. I had to watch my roommate try to turn him into a thug so he wouldn't be an outcast in the campus black community anymore. She said flat-out that black people didn't really like him and he needed to change his behavior. She "corrected" his speech, advised him to quit his white fraternity and join the black one, and generally nagged the guy about not being truly black. It was a depressing thing to watch. Luckily they eventually broke up, and I hope this guy has done better for himself. He had the potential to be successful, as long as all the "advice" he got didn't sink in.

(This memory prompted by LaShawn Barber.)

Posted by Sarah at February 15, 2006 04:56 PM | TrackBack

Typical stuff, actually. I'm labeled a sell-out in my school because I happen to believe that the "tyranny of the minority" definitely applies on campus, racially and otherwise.

Oh and yeah, I'm Asian (Filipino-American to be exact). I think the correct term is a "twinkie": yellow on the outside and white on the inside. Or some also use banana, depending if the accusing party is also a vegan anarchist.

Posted by: John at February 15, 2006 08:05 PM

A co-worker and I were just discussing this very topic. Since both of us are of mixed heritage, we have been accused of not being "Black enough" or "Acting white". It's just pathetic.

I personally have "issues" with being called African-American. I can trace my Fathers side back to my Great Grandparents and they were in Georgia. On my Mothers side I can trace back to my Grandparents, they immigrated from Poland to Germany before the war.

Can someone please tell me how that makes me "African-American"?

Posted by: Vonn at February 15, 2006 10:52 PM

I don't mind the term African-American. I've been called far worse. Why is there such a push for some verbal, superficial acceptance when history and society tells us discrimination is still rampant?


Posted by: Cobra at February 16, 2006 12:23 AM

Growing up I knew two black kids who were twins. I grew up in an Asain and Hispanic community. When I hit college, I had more interactions but was still very unknowledgable about black culture. All this time though I was told, time and time again to call blacks African-Americans. (I grew up in northern CA).

It wasn't until I got married moved around and got to spend real time making friends with all sorts of people that I learned that there are many that do or don't like a particular term to describe ethnecitity.

A couple of coworkers giggled the first time I called a woman African-American. So I pretty much refrain from using any term until I get to know the person better. Both of my officemates use Black, so do I when I am with them. An older coworker down the hall prefers African-American. I just try to accomodate to what they are used to if I can.

It is too bad that she felt she had to change the person istead of him being allowed to be who he was. I know two Sgts that are from different African Nations, they are great people. They are quiet but when they do speak they have some very interesting and well thought things to say.

I hope he found out who he was and stuck with it.


Posted by: Household6 at February 16, 2006 08:13 AM

Sigh. I unfortunately can relate to the African. I actually HEARD a girl in my high school say, just loud enough so I could hear, that I used to be cool last year when I was black. WTF? Then, I was so confused. Now, I realize that it was just an avenue to piss me off. She wouldn't have liked me whether I was "black" or not.

As I heard Henry Louis Gates (head of African American Studies at Harvard) say on the Today Show, Martin Luther King Jr. would roll over in his grave to see that black kids are pressured to be thugs, speak poorly and drop out of school to play sports - by their own people. It's an insult to the civil rights movement to define being black as being ghetto. If being highly educated and dressing appropriately means I'm white what is that saying about what it means to be black? And anyway I'm half black. NO one picked up on the fact that I'm half Latino too...

Ok, off my soapbox :)

Posted by: monique at February 16, 2006 08:51 PM

Well said Monique!

Posted by: Vonn at February 16, 2006 11:03 PM

Did I mention the comment from that girl was probably twelve years ago? It take's time to heal those feelings unfortunately...

Posted by: Monique at February 16, 2006 11:30 PM