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Black in Greenwich

Because of very different expectations from my white peers and my black peers, sometimes I feel like I just can’t win.

 

So apparently race is an adjective.

Lately, more and more I’ve been hearing people use "black" and “white” to describe the way a person speaks, dresses, and behaves, as in “She’s acting black.” Or “She’s acting white.”

The problem with using someone’s skin tone to identify their personality is that it adds to stereotypes. For example, if I use slang, like “That’s dope,” and someone tells me I sound black, athough it may not be meant in an offensive way; it is.

I don’t believe the way I speak should instantly associate me with a race.

Why do I have to be labeled “you’re being white” if I use good vocabulary, or if I wear a popped collar polo shirt? People constantly make comments about the way that I speak and say, “You sound like a white person.”  And they usually say, “You sound black" to someone who is not black. The stereotypes are so rigid that if you do anything outside the box, you instantly get a reaction.

“I do this, I’m white. I do that, I’m black."
But I’m pretty sure I am Alleyha. So I wish people would stop defining me by race which has nothing to do with who I am. It’s simply their assumptions.

Being black in Greenwich can be conflicting. Because you’re stuck in between the black stereotype, of having no vocabulary, no "class", and being loud and obnoxious,  and the Greenwich stereotype where everyone is articulate, poised and conservative, it leaves very little room for individuality.

This was an issue especially when I was younger and I was new to Greenwich. I was torn between acting how some "expected" a black person to behave, how they expected a preppy Greenwich person to act, and just being myself. The result of that meant not having too many friends.

When I came to Greenwich in fourth grade, and people found out I moved here from Stamford – even though I only lived there one year - they expected me to know all about drugs, guns, and life in “the hood.”  People even went as far as asking me “Have you ever seen anyone get shot?” This was my first introduction to stereotyping.

In elementary school, if I wanted to hang out with one group I had to behave the way they expected.  But whenever I tried to conform to their ideas of how I should behave, I felt like I was putting on a show. And I didn’t feel like I was being myself.

These days, quite frankly, I just want to be myself. I don’t want to be identified as a black person or as a white person.  And really that’s not that much to ask.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Glenn Wolff, LCSW December 26, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Alleyha, Thank you for another insightful and incisive blog. Glenn
Leslie Yager December 26, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Alleyha, Your individuality and nonconformity are admirable! - Leslie
Vicki December 26, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Good for you! You go girl!!
Vicki Camacho - Public Access Producer December 26, 2012 at 10:47 PM
I know what you mean, Alleyha and thank you for writing about it.
Bob December 27, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Out of the mouth of babes...
Miki December 27, 2012 at 05:03 PM
so then, why are you stereotyping "Greenwich" what does it mean to complain about stereotyping "black" or "white" and then doing the same thing that you do not like done to you; Your stereotyping "Greenwich"??? Does not make sense to complain about stereotyping when you are doing just the same!
Bob December 27, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Miki - I don't think she is. I think there is a difference in pointng out the obvious and stereotyping.
Miki December 28, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Thanks for your opinion on the matter Bob and whether you think she is or not is no the case - it is the same - STEREOTYPING is just that and she is stereotyping Greenwich!
Mark Schultz December 29, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Hey Miki, there is a kernel of truth to every stereotype. Greenwich is "preppy" - a HUGE percentage go on to college. If I call Greenwich preppy, am I stereotyping? Watch a dozen 13-year-old girls walk down the sidewalk you may seem them all wearing the same North Face jacket, Uggs, long straightened hair. Are those girls all a stereotype? But adding race is tricky and Alleyha was brave to share that. Why don't you add some value to the conversation, Miki?

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