The truth about “not black enough”

Hunter Kimble, Opinion Editor

Growing up as a Black girl in the suburbs of Dallas of a borderline medium class home, I had always come across the term “not black enough.” I would always be asked trivial questions like “Do you know who Celie from ‘The Color Purple’ is?”, “Do you like Hip-Hop?”, “Do you eat greens and chitlins/chitterlings?”, and “Why do you talk like a White chick?” I was even asked why I like White people stuff like rock music, comics, and anime. Now that I’m older I sometimes reflect on the term “not black enough” and wonder why it is such a derogatory phrase that Black people call each other.

According to cultural critic Gene Seymour’s CNN article “Am I ‘black enough’?,” she describes the term “ black enough” as an insult within the black community that is almost as wounding as a racial term from a white person. To be ‘not black enough’ means that you are not seen as an authentic black person, usually in the eyes of other African Americans.

It seems that I have to act the role that an average Black person is supposed to act in order to fully be seen as Black or African American. My question is: How is a black person supposed to act? Am I supposed to be loud, eccentric, talk in slang and only hang out with other Black people? Am I also supposed to like the things that one would assume your average black person like such as listening to Hip-Hop 24/7 and watching “Love & Hip-Hop” or “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” It seems that people base the perception of a race on stereotypes, oversimplified images, for the authenticity of a person’s race and ethnicity.

No matter how successful or hard working a Black person becomes, they will always be scrutinized on their blackness if they do not act the way Black or African Americans “should” act. For example, in his article “What does it take to be black enough?” published in The Chicago Tribune, Don Wycliff talks about Seattle Seahawk quarterback Russell Wilson’s relationship with his black teammates. Wilson is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, which is as successful as a quarterback can get. However, supposedly the other African Americans on his team don’t respect him because he is not “black enough.” This man has helped lead the team to big paydays and contracts that followed the Seahawks’ championship season in 2013 but they do not respect him because he does not sound like some generic Black guy that we are programed to believe we should emulate. That is just the dumbest reason for not supporting a fellow African American.

Just because I’m Black does not mean I have to act the way people perceive my race should behave. My race does not define my personality and hobby; I will listen to whatever music I want and like whatever I want as long as it’s not harming anyone. Besides, I know a lot of people who like the things that Black people are suppose to like and they are White, Latino, and Asian, but I guess you would think they are “acting black”, which usually isn’t the case. Also, the way I talk is due to the environment I grew up in and how my parents taught me to speak. Normally, the way you were nurtured reflects how you act as a person. In no way am I “acting White.” After all, some White people do not speak proper at all. As African Americans we are supposed to be standing together, especially in today’s time, so this idea of “not black enough” is really killing us as a group and making us look like hypocrites when we are preaching about standing up for our people.