As a member of the black community, I have come to realize that we create these stereotypes. For many of us, they have been ingrained in us for most of our lives and we intentionally or unintentionally encourage them. They can be perpetuated through phrases such as “black people are ghetto,” “black people love watermelon and fried chicken,” and even “oh so since you’re black, you’ve got to be good at basketball.” There are times when we let these stereotypes lift us up and even tear us down, but why do we let these stereotypes define who we are and our blackness? Do these stereotypes reflect the realities of the black community? No. But do we choose to reveal these stereotypes to the world? Sometimes. These are questions I asked myself after arriving in the AUC.
Before college, I felt less connected to my Puerto Rican side than my black side, but I felt it wasn’t a big deal. I knew I was black. I am proud to be black. But yet, a part of me still didn’t feel black enough. Students questioned my blackness because of my skin complexion and the way I spoke. According to many, I am too light, which means that I have to be mixed. I am proud to be both black and Puerto Rican, and that doesn’t take away from the fact that I am black. Along with my complexion, my mannerisms and speech patterns, were deemed “white”. I never knew you could speak a color. My experiences with such thoughts really raised questions about the AUC. Then, I realized that the problem was not with the AUC. The problem is with these stereotypes that we, as a black community, have allowed to define our blackness.
The problem with defining our blackness is that, in reality, there’s no way of doing such a thing. There are black people everywhere. They’re in different cities, states and even countries. This means that we are not all going to be the same or have the same background. Our morals will be different. Our customs will be different. The way we communicate, what we tolerate and how we react, will all vary. Just because one may be different from the next, does not take away from their blackness. It’s important that we, as a community, instill this in the young minds of future black generations so they can understand that blackness means freedom.
What are some of the stereotypes students in the AUC believe about race and what it means to be Black?