I was having a conversation with one of my friends who I have known for a few years and she mentioned a music artist. Conversation went a bit like this:
Friend: Hey, have you heard Artist’s new song?
Friend: You know who I’m talking about!
Me: Ummm… no I don’t. Who is Artist? And why do you think I know who that is?
Friend: You know…because you’re black.
Okay, before you raise any pitchforks, let me clarify that my friend is black as well. But she is one of those people, black or white or whatever, that automatically assumes I am familiar with every black artist that comes on the scene.
I have these types of conversations once in a while and it does frustrate me. What frustrates me the most is when someone puts off a vibe that I am not “black enough” or will lose my “black card” because I do not do any of the following:
- Watch BET
- Watch Tyler Perry anything
- Listen to R&B
- Listen to rap (which for the record I do- but mostly pre-2000s rap)
- Watch the latest black film that has been released
- Live in a black neighborhood
- Graduate from a black university
- Have only black friends
- Exclusively date black men
- Go to a black church
- Talk with a black dialect
Now, this doesn’t frustrate me enough to go off on any of my friends, although I will tease those I’m close to that if it isn’t a song by Foo Fighters or Patty Griffin, don’t ask me if I’ve heard it. But I do find it insulting that not enough people recognize that the black community, like all communities, is diverse. For the record, I tend to:
- Watch Sundance Channel or IFC
- Watch Wes Anderson or Coen Brothers anything
- Listen to rock music (hence my love for Foo Fighters)
- Listen to singer/songwriter or alt-country music (hence my affection for Patty Griffin)
- Watch independent films
- Live in a racially diverse neighborhood
- Graduated from a predominantly white liberal arts university
- Have mostly white friends
- Date men of all races
- Go to a racially diverse church with a white senior pastor and black associate pastor
- Been told I talk with a northern/midwest/Californian accent (considering I’m from Tennessee, this always amuses me!)
My point is that there is no one way for a person to behave if they are black just like there is no one way for someone to behave if they are any other race. C’mon- how insulting would it be for people to assume that all women watch Lifetime Channel or listened only to Sarah McLachlan… although I do happen to love Sarah and have been to two Lilith Fairs in the past, but you know what I mean, right? There is diversity within all races. There is no “If you are _____ then you must act/think/do _____”.
I think that’s it for my soapbox. And on that note, I leave you one of my favorite Foo Fighters songs, The Pretender. That may be ironic that I am picking a song with the title “The Pretender”. But I just seriously (bleepin’) love this song!