Code switching, Diversity, and Blackness

Recently, I participated in a debate about how do I feel the media (television, books, and movies) reflected images I want my children to see. The discussion leads to diversity. I mentioned that children are too busy trying to prove their blackness to embrace diversity. Embracing diversity in my perception has been seen as selling out. As a black woman, I struggle with fitting in. It depends on the crowd. Sometimes I have to surrender my blackness sometimes my feminity. The television show Blackish lightly treads on issues of proving blackness (black nationalism) and diversity. The show does not take the risk and engage these topics at a deep level. In the midst of “Black Lives Matter,” the importance of this discussion is critical. I realize in college, I made a conscious effort to prove my blackness. I used it as a defense mechanism to keep people away. I used more slang and ebonics in the conversation. Years later at work in a predominately white environment, I clung to the idea of proving my blackness. When my blackness was challenged, my pride caused me to react, and I was terminated as a result of an altercation. The altercation was a result of me trying to prove my hood toughness. For years, I did code switching I didn’t realize it was a technical term for it. In middle school and high school, I was in a predominately white school district. Before college when I showed an interest in rock and alternative music I was criticized by my mother for being too white. When I spoke proper English again, I was reprimanded for not embracing blackness. In work environments, code switching is necessary to appear professional. Comedian Kat Williams often jokes in his routines that black people have a Negro (politically correct) meeting and discuss topics. Maybe we really should, we could address diversity within our culture. It seems now hip hop is the only reflection of our culture. Proving blackness has now become an excuse for not embracing the arts (with an exception of music), not advancing academically. This is sad when you think about all the contributions to music, medical, and technology that black American havcode pice made. Contributions that have improved the quality of life in the United States and globally. It is my personal belief that once we are more able to embrace the uniqueness within our own culture we can appreciate diversity. In my experience, blacks have been discouraged from learning about other cultures. There are some who do. I know as a parent, I send my children mixed messages. The one-way hand, I encourage them to read multicultural literature and learn about other cultures. When they seem too interested, I criticized. My children have the blackish struggles. They have been raised in a predominately white environment because they lived and were educated in a suburban community. Recently I attended a racial divide conversation. It was an interesting mix. My assumption was the audience would be predominately black. When I arrived late, I noticed the trickle of black people coming. I thought, “here we go we coming in colored people time”. The panelist who was our discussion leaders did not reflect diversity. There was a moderator a young black male. Bernie Hayes an elder black male advocate and a black female who was a mix of afro-centric and eclectic. The final panelist was a middle age artistic while male. The discussion focused on topics such as code switching, white flight, and educational disparity. The black speakers on the panel seem to have had the blackish experience. One was real life Carlton Banks. He was adopted and had been raised by a white family. He didn’t know anything about code switching. He only had one experience. If you read African American literature, you see different classes in the black community, the street people, middle class, and upper class. One of the audience members told us the media is creating a paranoid that is affecting race relations. I believe this to be true. I don’t see stories about middle-class blacks or upper-class blacks. The only black people you see are street people and entertainers and athletes. The entertainers, for the most part, embrace the street culture. After listening to the panel, I wondered if the “Black experience“ is constructed. Race is a construct. The African American community just like the white community has three social, economic classes. I cannot deny the existence of white privilege.

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