"You're not like the Others."

Royalty Hightower as Toni in “The Fits.”  Oscilloscope Laboratories

Royalty Hightower as Toni in “The Fits.” Oscilloscope Laboratories

A statement I overheard growing up. Yes, I was that black girl. The black girl who went to a predominantly white day care, grade school and college university. Surprisingly, that was one of my biggest challenges growing up. I was too “white” to hang with the black girls in school, but just “white enough" to hang with the white girls, who always (subconsciously) reminded me that I fit in with them because I didn’t "act, talk, or dress like the other black girls". It wasn’t too terribly bad, until I got to high school and the white and black people started calling me “white girl” and of course the famous “Oreo”. OK, maybe it was the biggest challenge I had growing up.

As a child, I didn’t see or understand “color”. All I knew was, my dad (and later my sister) was the same color as me and my mom looked like all of my friends (white). I didn't realize that I probably wasn't looking at things realistically until one particular night I sat in the tub well past my "tub time". I was about 9 years old when my mom caught me crying (and withering) in the tub and asked me "what the hell I was still doing in that damn tub knowing good and well I had homework to do". My response? I was soaking. My friend told me that I was really the same color as her (and my mom), but I hadn't washed well enough, and was just "dirtier than usual". My mom flipped. She went on and on (and on) about how I was not dirty, how my black ass was black, how beautiful my black ass was (mainly because I'm her child), that the good Lord made me that way on purpose so I better not be ashamed, that I better not ever allow anyone to tell me that my color was "dirty" and to not worry about why she looked like my friend (who told me I was dirty) because she was black as hell just like me. Don't laugh, OK. Hell, I didn’t know. I also had no idea what BET was or stood for until well into my teenage years. But, on the bright side, I was "Little Red Riding Hood" in my elementary school play. My mom mad my cape. You couldn't tell me nothing!

"The minute I stopped caring what others thought about me,

and began being unapologetically me, I was almost immediately accepted."

I spoke eloquently because I was taught that that's how all intelligent people speak and I wore Hollister and Aeropostale because their jeans fit my thin frame (and nonexistent ass) much better than any pair of Apple Bottoms could. Those stores also had amazing sales; my mom has never and still doesn't buy anything full price. I will never forget my first (and only) time wearing a pair of Apple Bottom jeans, my sophomore year in high school. It was tragic, I had absolutely no apple to fill those bottoms. All my black classmates made sure I knew it too. That was during the (very short) period I set out to flip the switch on them folks, and show everyone how down and black I was. I got me a gang banging boyfriend from a different school (who I later found out was dating another girl at my school at the same damn time, but that’s a whole other story), changed how I spoke (well tried), and purposely got C’s (on my interim), so that folks would know that I didn't think I was better than them "just because I got A's". Yeah, it's all really confusing to me now too, but stay with me. Chile, my daddy snapped me back into place so quick after seeing that interim. My grades were right back to A’s well before report card time. And you know what? I did ALL of that, and I still wasn’t “black” enough to my black classmates! Lol. It wasn’t until my junior/senior year, when I gave up. I literally had to stop giving a damn whether or not I'd ever have black friends. It's so funny though. The minute I stopped caring what others thought about me, and began being unapologetically me, I was almost immediately accepted. (I’ll be talking about the importance of being unapologetically you soon enough, so stay tuned).

"But, after 27 years on this earth I’m here to tell you: intelligence, class, and style are not color.

They are characteristics of people of all ethnicities and backgrounds."

It was hard out here for a pimp growing up, and these days aren’t much different. Folks still tell me I talk and act "white”, or like a “valley girl”, and white people still go on and on about how “well spoken”, “well dressed” and “well put together” I am (as if they're surprised or it isn’t common). You should see the look on many of their faces after I speak, it gets me everytime. But, after 27 years on this earth I’m here to tell you: intelligence, class, and style are not color. They are characteristics of people of all ethnicities and backgrounds.

 

Welcome to the day in the life of a corporate black gurl.

 

Brittany Hubbard9 Comments