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What It’s Like Growing Up Black in a White World

Audience at a concert by singer John Davidson, 1987

Being black can often be regarded as a blessing, due to the vibrant rich culture and effortless beauty and talent that exudes from the race. At times, however, this “blackness” can be seen as a curse.

There is a common misconception that racism itself has truly diminished and black people are now seen as equal to white people by society. This is far from the truth. Racism seems to have progressed and developed into a system that indulges in the unfair treatment of minority groups.

For centuries there has been consistent, negative, stereotypical portrayals of black people in the media, schools, and workplaces. This poor and alluding representation has been detrimental as many young black people feel the need to conform to Eurocentric ideals and prove that they are not part of this negative representation of being “ratchet”, “ghetto” or “threatening”. Many black people admit to changing and adjusting their personality to fit in with their white peers or counterparts. This robs individuals of self-knowledge and acceptance all in an effort to not be judged.

“This poor and alluding representation has been detrimental as many young black people feel the need to conform to Eurocentric ideals and prove that they are not part of this negative representation of being ‘ratchet’, ‘ghetto’ or ‘threatening’.”

This cultural smothering also raises the question of why black stereotypes are predominately ‘discriminative’, ‘aggressive’ and negative, whilst white stereotypes of being ‘rich’ ‘well-spoken’ and ‘affluent’ remain alluring?. This damaging representation is exacerbated by media influence, making black children as young as five being feared!. An example of this can be that of Rudy Giuliani who claims people should teach their kids to fear black children.

“There is too much violence in the black community” Giuliani claims. He continues by saying “9,900 times out of 1000” other black kids are going to kill white children. “That’s the way they’re gonna die,” he says. This is just scraping the surface to a much deeper issue.

Despite the fact that millions of black people are born and bred in western countries, there is still a lingering feeling of not being completely accepted by their country, creating a further divide. How are we supposed to fit into a society that refuses to treat us as their own?

As a marginalized group of society, black people are forced to watch as people love our culture and tradition, whilst they regard us as the lowest ranking ethnic group. There is also the belief that Black people can only become successful through entertainment. There is no doubt that children are growing up being taught to work twice as hard as their white peers as they are aware of the injustice that prevails through society.

“Environments do not define a person and as an ethnic group we have come far but there is still so much more to achieve.”

It has been proven that Black women are the most educated group in the U.S, yet there is still a shocking lack of diversity in the top jobs and universities. In the U.K there have been no Black academics working in senior management at any British university for the last three years. Many Black people who voice their opinion and complain about these injustices are criticized for ‘pulling the race card’. This leaves black people with the feeling of wondering if they will ever be good enough.

Director and producer Jordan peele of the film Get Out perfectly encapsulates this idea with his tweet, tweeting “The sunken place means we’re marginalized No matter how hard we scream, the system silences us”. As terrifying as this seems in terms of real life application through demographics, statistics, and first-hand experience this is proved to be a leading contribution to the suffering and struggles that many black communities face.

Having been brought into a world where we are not born with the same access to opportunities and privileges that others are simply handed, there stems this idea that poverty within the black community is inescapable. However, environments do not define a person and as an ethnic group we have come far but there is still so much more to achieve. There is room for change and as the next generation we can prevent our children from feeling the same isolation, discrimination and prejudice we may have felt. To create change within a system we have to become a part of that system.

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