Redefining Black

All my life, I never took offense to the line "your the whitest black guy I know". It's as if the way I carry myself and the way I talk should be your typical Ebonics slang speaking thug that is portrayed in today's urban city society. Since seeing all the racial cases making it's way to American media, from Fergusun to how we treat the commander in chief, when a slight mistake may come about (Obama's Coffee Salute). It makes me wonder, why is being black such a topic of controversy when it's negative.

I grew up in a household where education was sought after by my parents, immigrants from Nigeria trying to make the best for their children. But it was see as I do in my eyes and not my parents sitting my down and making homework be the number one priority. I found it upon myself to do all the homework and seek 4.0's to make my parents proud. (Something I still I haven't been able to accomplish). I was bullied by my own siblings simply cause I made them look bad academically. English and writing were my favorite classes. Speaking and learning how to pronounce big words and grammar was the best thing since sliced bread. Kids usually going to school in Detroit aren't fans of homework or school for the matter. The bullying went beyond home and into the playground. Adding the chubby kid factor. Couldn't ride a bike, shoot a basket, or do "cool" things didn't help the situation. But my love for technology and computers was my getaway. Learning how to 56K my way to the Internet. Read the news, look at stocks, and order shoes online (Eastbay from catalogs to the internet ) was simply amazing for an 8 year old. You try installing Windows 3.1 with floppy disks at home and upgrading your local church's computers to Windows 98 SE. Not your typical black kid living off 7 Mile Rd and Hoover in Detroit.

Once I moved to the suburbs and realized my parents could care less about if I did my homework when I asked for help, it was easy to begin hanging out with the wrong crowd. I still enjoyed theater, football, and student government, but I felt I was invincible. No need to study or take things seriously. Things will fall into place after high school and i'll be fucking rich. Almost 8 years in community college and I've barely hit enough credits to be a sophomore. I started drinking, smoking weed with cool kids, and staying out till sunrise. Having my brother's ID helped getting into bars and supplying my friends even easier.

Not all was lost. It was at 18 I discovered traveling and flew off to Amsterdam for Spring Break while everyone else was heading to Cancun for a tan and fucking the girls of Cousino High School. I learned very early that life is not cookie cutter. Still the stereotypes of a black man always followed. Just because I walked the streets late at night, police being called cause I fit a description or being pulled over constantly where I had registration and driver's license ready as soon as the lights came on. I wasn't 100% innocent either. Driving on a suspended, expired plates, and even getting my car repossessed eventually. In that regard, I fit the right black man characteristics. Eventually getting myself in enough trouble at 19 to see a jail cell twice and now a felon. But still I make myself worthy enough by learning new computer languages, continue writing (blogging), and putting myself in awkward situations to ask questions. I've seen a lot of cool shit and made friends along the way.

Being black doesn't have to be constantly feeling oppressed and blaming someone else for your faults. Black people need to take some kind of responsibility for the state we're in. Yes, it's easy to fall into society's equilibrium  or lack there of. People throughout history had to provoke change and be heard. People may look at protests of a white cop shooting an unarmed black teen as racial, but it goes beyond that. We have yet to talk about racism, our polarized education system, and our crumbling urban neighborhoods. Listening to the other side is what black people aren't doing and having dialogue that doesn't lead right to anger. Not to say we haven't moved forward, but we have a long way to go.

I'm going to continue to be that token black guy, but I'll embrace it and show people there's no reason we can't all get along. Even in this new chapter of my life, I'm learning that I have to be a voice of reason. We can't continue to call people faggots and think it's ok because were among friends. Even saying the word within gay circles is the same thing like black people saying nigga to each other. I'll go ahead and continue being black, which means being myself and showing people there's more to it than what we've been taught to believe. 

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