courtesy of eatdrinkbetter.com
What is being black? Today’s media answers that question in a variety of ways, but these ways are mostly negative. According to the media, to be a black girl/woman means that you’re either ghetto, or on welfare; you’re most likely the mother of two or more fatherless children, or you’re on drugs; you’re sexually promiscuous, you obnoxiously roll your head whenever you speak to others and, above all, you have an attitude. To be a black boy/man means that you’re a thug/gangster, you absolutely love rap music, you’re the father of many children whom you don’t visit, you’re irresponsible, you’re a drug addict and you’re aggressive. These are the media’s definition of blackness and, because we spend a great amount of time glued to various media forms, it is not surprising that many people actually learn to view blacks according to these stereotypes.
Unfortunately, it appears that a significant number of blacks actually believe these stereotypical ideals. For example, BET, Black Entertainment Television, constantly airs shows that depict blacks in the most deplorable manner. While controversy does well in the entertainment business, it does not benefit the black community to showcase episodes of capricious youths making a fool of themselves. This has created a situation where being ghetto appears to be the ideal; any behavior that goes against this ideal is automatically labeled as “white.” During Barack Obama’s presidential race, some blacks accused him of “acting white,” but the phrase “acting white,” is impossible to decipher. When a black person accuses another of “acting white” he/she implies that it is inconceivable to have blacks who are intelligent. If speaking Standard English, getting good grades or having a successful career is considered “acting white” then what is “acting black”?
For some reason fleeting fame and wealth rather than education have now come to define success. Because rappers, singers and athletes are revered by adults, children grow up idolizing them as well. They aspire to be the next lil Wayne, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or Reggie Bush, but what about doctors, lawyers and educators? What about Daniel Hale Williams, Thurgood Marshall, Langston Hughes, or Maya Angelou? They should be idolized as well. There is clearly not enough room for everyone in the music or sports industry so it’s imperative that these children understand that there are other important career paths for them to pursue.
The truth is that there is no such thing as “acting white” or even “acting black”; there is conducting oneself with poise and dignity at all times. Saying isn’t instead of ain’t or you all instead of y’all is not called “acting white,” it’s called speaking proper English. It’s obvious that intellect does not belong to one specific race; it’s present in different people who are of different colors and different cultures. Since the colonial years, blacks have been portrayed as ignorant, superstitious, lazy and violent–the list of negative stereotypes is literally endless. The time is now–now is when blacks need to show that they are indeed acute; now is the time for us to let the world know that we can be and that we are indeed the epitome of honorable.