Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I Love Myself: Don't Judge Me By My Exterior

Being black in a historically white sorority (NPC) is no walk through the park.

Pretty much missing the whole junior class and absent seniors, nbd.
"Why did you even rush one of those?" "Why didn't you choose a historically black sorority (NPHC)?" "Do you like white people more than black people?" "Is there no love for your brothas and sistas?" "How can you be around that lifestyle all the time?" "Don't you feel weird being the only black?" "Do they make you answer questions on behalf of the whole black population?" "Aren't they racist?" "Do the white guys only talk to you because you're black?"

............ What? ............

I usually brush off the questions because, in my opinion, they are silly questions because the people asking me these questions do not know me nor do they deserve an explanation of my choices. I'm not saying your questions aren't valid, because they definitely are, but so are my feelings and choices.

"Don't you feel weird being the only black?" No, obviously not, or I wouldn't have joined or I would have dropped. That's an obvious answer. By asking me questions like that (in a critical and judgmental tone as opposed to general curiosity), I feel as if you are attacking not only my personal identity but my commitment to my own race.

But the other day, I got rattled when asked a question along those lines by someone who I had considered a friend. The tone was not friendly. The tone was not curious. The tone was so judgmental, critical, and negative that I truly had to fight back tears. I was especially hurt because he and I work together in leadership positions in a black organization on campus.

The insinuations made by this friend made me feel like a bad black, especially in the face of all that has been happening. I was just so distraught. I wanted to sit my friend down and explain my life choices as to how I decided to go NPC instead of NPHC. The main reason? A personal sexual assault from a member in NPHC and then the response/"advice" I had gotten from other female members in NPHC and the black community. I understand the need to protect each other, but a crime is a crime. I wanted to press charges but the older members made me feel guilty for possibly sending one of our own to jail. (Side note: I have so many feelings about this that it warrants a separate post.)

I did not want to be in an organization like that. Now, this is not to say that all black communities are like this or even the people that compose of it, but this experience that happened to me on my campus was the main reason I decided to not seek out more about being in NPHC and the black community on my campus.

On this note, I'm not saying the NPC and IFC (historically white fraternities) are better, but I had not been personally victimized and all of my closest friends from freshman year were rushing. Also, it just seemed like the thing to do. Growing up affluent, a lot of people went NPC and IFC, even some of the black men and women who came back to talk to us about their college careers. A couple also went NPHC. I was open minded when I first started school, but things happen... Anyways, I decided to give it a try and found a home in my diverse and inclusive sorority in NPC. Sure, it was a gamble, but the conversations I had with the people I talked to went past the superficial and I really enjoyed the honest and open dialogue. Small talk is not my thing.

Just a couple of the people I call my sorority sisters in my pledge class.
And yes, I pointed out diverse and inclusive because I really think it is. We are the melting pot sorority and I love it. I'm not going to say that we are all perfect, but the ones I've gotten to know are amazing. They write open letters talking about what it means to be inclusive and diverse within a sorority. They go to protests for #BlackLivesMatter and they understand the need for it over #AllLivesMatter. They come over when I make my Haitian food. They ask questions about the difference between black and African American. These people whom I call my sisters are open-minded and progressive.

They are future political scientists, economists, psychologists, doctors, lawyers, and human rights activists (this is a non-exhaustive list because these people are so cool) who understand the black struggle and try their hardest to integrate that mindset before they speak. I'm not saying all sororities are like this (because if they were, would people still attack me for my choices?) but mine is--and that is why I joined. 

I love myself. I am pro-black. I might not "look" as pro-black as Malcolm X or a couple of the people on campus, but I know that I am pro-black. Just because I go around wearing hair extensions and the letters of a historically white sorority does not mean that I am not pro-black and it definitely does not mean I wish I were white. Just because I am not a part of the overarching black community does not mean that I am not pro-black. I joined a small subsection because I felt as if their objectives and my needs meshed better. Just because I do not fit your vision of what it means to be pro-black does not mean that I am not pro-black. I love myself. I love my skin. I love my Caribbeans, my Africans, my Americans, my darker-skin friends and my lighter skin friends, my Afro-Latinas... I love my blacks. 

SOCA (Students of the Caribbean Association) Executive Board
But I digress... I just cannot wrap my head around the accusations that my "friend" had said to me. See how we went from friend to "friend"? If my "friend" had really known me, would this person have attacked me in this way? 

Before I felt as if it wasn't my place to explain my choices and maybe that's part of the problem. Maybe the dialogue has to go both ways. If you attack my beliefs and my personal identity, then I will gladly inform you on why you're wrong about me.

2016 is not the year for me to sit back and let people make assumptions while I keep my mouth closed.

Although, if you are my "friend" and think these things about me, then we really aren't friends and I would just be wasting my time trying to change it otherwise. But as long as you're inquiring, I'll happily answer.

No comments:

Post a Comment