By Piper Garick, Baylen Altizer and Kennae Hunter
Sundra Woodford, neighborhood revitalization manager for Macon Area Habitat for Humanity, identifies as black and Southern, but not African American.
“I actually work for a South African and he is African American to me, but he is Caucasian,” she said.
Woodford doesn’t identify strongly with her African heritage so she prefers to be called black.
“The term ‘African American’ throws me sometimes because I don’t really know why that term is so important to some people,” she said. “I feel like I’m a black woman — a negro woman in the South.”
Woodford’s Habitat work involves collaborating with lower-class families around Macon to help revitalize their neighborhoods. However rewarding that work may be, sometimes she finds stereotypes interfering with her service in local communities.
“I constantly have to prove myself. [For example,] my intelligence. I have a doctorate degree,” she said. “I constantly find myself having to inform or educate people — mostly white people — about that all black people aren’t the same and we are just as diverse as any other race.”
On the flip side, working with predominantly black communities often pushes her to the outside because of her proper speech and professional manner.
“I remember I used to drive a BMW and pulling up to low income areas in that car made people in those communities make assumptions,” she said. “They put me in a box and I don’t want to stay in that box.”