What Kind of Black Are You?
Joel Leon.

I’m the kind of Black who (also) better identifies with Black than I ever will with “African American.” I’m the kind of Black whose Black experience was shaped a little differently than others, thanks to immigrant parents, but learned so much from my (step)dad, who was born in the South during Jim Crow. The same guy who once told a teenage me that he wouldn’t come to the wedding if I married someone white, but accepted my white husband with open arms. People can change. Speaking of, I’m the type of Black who didn’t really think I’d marry outside of my race (not that I wasn’t open to it, but by design of the climate we live in), but alas, when people treat each other as people instead of shades, those kinds of things happen. I’m the kind of Black who sees marrying outside of my race as an opportunity to have open, candid dialogue about police brutality, white flight, the true meaning of gentrification, and why Donald Trump should NEVER be the President. I’m the kind of Black who reminds my husband that when we have children, people won’t see them as half white, but brown. And some people, quite frankly, ain’t down with Brown — and we’ll have to talk about it. I’m the kind of Black who thinks Stacey Dash is entitled to her opinion, even if “we” don’t agree with it. I’m the type of Black who is deeply offended when other Black people tell me I “sound white.” I’m the type of Black who used to relax my hair because I wanted to, and now I don’t relax my hair because, honestly, I just got tired of relaxing my hair. Whether I wear my hair as it naturally comes out of my scalp, or I decide to dye it green, my level of Black should not be in question. The natural hair movement isn’t for everyone, and should I decide to get back on the creamy crack, it’s no one’s business but my own. I’m the type of Black who worries that my assertiveness in the workplace is sometimes misconstrued as the ANGRY BLACK WOMAN. If I’m dissatisfied with a good or service that I’ve received and I speak my mind, I’m an ANGRY BLACK WOMAN. If I, by default of human nature, lose my cool in a situation, that the non-POC will take that experience and judge us all as ANGRY BLACK WOMEN, or use the situation as evidence as to why they will continue to think that we’re all ANGRY BLACK WOMEN. I’m the kind of Black who wishes that I could be judged as an individual, instead of based on the actions of other members of my race. I’m the kind of Black who hopes that perceptions are changed with every interaction I have with a non-POC. I’m the kind of Black who wants non-POC to understand that talking about racism isn’t meant to single YOU, specifically, as the non-POC I’m speaking with, as a racist but wants you to know that complacency/failure to acknowledge other people’s experiences as true, also isn’t helpful. I’m the kind of Black who doesn’t want to be unapologetically Black because there’s nothing to apologize for. I am who I am, and who I am is a Black woman named Lakesha. I had no control over those three items — it’s my actions as a Black woman named Lakesha that matter most.

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