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Brown Skin Girl…I think?

I never understood the phrase “you act white” or “you talk like a white person.” What is acting white? Why is it so taboo for a black person to be articulate enough to formulate a proper sentence? Why do black people always have to be obnoxious and uncivilized? These are questions that have been running through my mind for a long time now. I was born and raised in a predominately white county, but to me there was nothing wrong with that. Of course, growing up around a certain type of environment can have a huge impact on someone. Not gonna lie, I did pick up on some of the trends that the white girls were rocking, and speaking in their little slang, but that didn’t revoke my black card or anything, at least to me it didn’t. It wasn’t until I moved out of the predominantly white county for a couple of years to a predominantly black county where I first heard the words. I was in 6th grade when I heard that I “act white” for the first time. I was so confused by this. I soon found myself trying to pick up on all of the mannerisms of the other black girls at my school to try to prove my blackness. Now if anyone knows me, they know that this was just not me. It’s tiring trying to be someone you’re not! I would often times find myself frustrated at the fact that I could never perfect my act and people were clearly not fooled by my fasade. 

Fast forward a couple of months, and we end up moving back to the predominantly white county and to a new school where I then became the new transfer student. I get there, and I am like an alien to the rest of the students. Once they found out the county that I had come from, they automatically figured me out before even talking to me. I was called ghetto or just referred to as that black girl by people who I had never even crossed paths with. However, once they did get the chance to talk to me, they found themselves quickly amazed at the fact that I could function and speak like a civilized human being. I even got a comment from one of my classmates saying “you’re not loud and ghetto like other black girls”…yes, this was a real statement from A SEVENTH GRADER. This was the ultimate level of frustration for me . If  I’m not really accepted by the community who I literally share the same skin color, and the community that they say I act more like doesn’t see me fitting in with them, then where do I belong? After this, I just became the token black girl in all of the friend groups. I had two sides to me. The side that thought they loved rap music, used the word yo an excessive amount of times and became a “sneaker head” because I had to maintain the black image to keep my cool points and the side of me that enjoyed indulging in the “tumblr girl” lifestyle and Taylor Swift jam sessions with the girls.

As I grew older, I struggled trying to find my true identity, who exactly I wanted to be. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I realized I was simply me. I didn’t like the idea of having to conform to the little box that everyone feels the need to be confined to. I took the time to explore myself and be comfortable with the fact that I was not the typical black girl and I was not the black, wanna be white girl that others tried to label me as. I was simply different.

To me, it was like I was living the best of both worlds. I have always been able to mix and mingle with groups of people with different backgrounds and this is what I had to learn to love about myself. Yes, I would always yearn to want to be accepted by the popular group of black girls, but that want soon faded away because I was happy with myself. Nine times out of ten, the group that I had been longing to fit in with was probably unhappy with themselves because they had to maintain a certain rep. Quite frankly, I have fallen in love with the personality that I used to hate. Through all of my quirks, goofiness and kindness is a beautiful young woman who has come a long way. It was not always like this, but you learn from the experiences that you have. I am the woman that I am now so that I am able to inspire other young black girls to be okay with themselves and find the beauty that each and every one of them bring to this world. Today, I am no longer the girl who tried so hard to prove themselves , no longer the girl who desperately wanted to be accepted, but the girl who is unapologetically herself and creates her own standards as I live and grow in my own unique body.

Kayla Smith

Hampton U '23

Kayla Smith is a sophomore journalism major from Columbia, MD. She enjoys writing, listening to music and traveling. She is very excited to be attending Hampton University and to expand her skills at her illustrious HBCU.
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