When I was younger I wasn’t black enough.
I didn’t talk like I was black and I didn’t act like I was black but I was black.
I am black.
So, why did I not fit in?
This was a very new concept for me as I’d moved to the UK from Rwanda so the whole concept of acting and talking black was foreign to me. Where I’m from black people are just… people. I didn’t overthink it.
In Rwanda there isn’t one set way of acting “black”.
However, of course in the West it is not so simple. So, I really struggled with that and my identity for a while.
I didn’t try to fit in because I’m stubborn, so that made my life a little difficult but in the end I found good friends who accepted me as I was.
Then I went to Uni and I found ah! I’m African! So, my mannerisms and humour and way of acting fit in with my African Uni mates in a way that was as easy as breathing… so that made me feel even better.
I know it seems obvious given I’d immigrated from Africa to the UK but… it honestly was a big revelation to me in Uni.
Recently, I stumbled upon a post about Carlton from Fresh Prince. It is known on this blog that I love Carlton, um, what a man!
One of the things I love about him is how confident he is to be himself. Sure, he has struggles throughout the show but for the most part he stays true to himself and his goofy personality.
He also never forgets that he is black. He has privileges that Will didn’t have but racism and institutional racism will get you eventually and it did for Carlton.
But with Carlton he also faced the trouble of not being black enough. He wasn’t street and he was from a rich family and so other black people sometimes could not relate to him on the show. This is shown when they’re trying to join a fraternity and the leader doesn’t want Carlton because he thinks he’s not black enough.
Carlton had the best clapback and it really resonated with me and that twitter post reminded me of that.
“Being black isn’t what I’m trying to be it’s what I am.”
Can I get an amen?
I am glad that times are changing and the different kinds of black people are not just being shown but are being celebrated.
Black people are diverse. We have differing personalities, looks and interests. There is not one type of black person and I am glad that the world is beginning to realise that.
It all started with Carlton though and wow, what a quote. So, I carry that with me to remind myself I don’t have to prove anything to anyone.