I Know I’m White

Ebony Magazine sits on my coffee table. I read TheRoot.com almost daily. I will watch anything with Idris Elba and I will rock out to classic Motown.

EbonyMagazineWhen I was cuddling with my boyfriend–now my ex–several months ago on the couch, he said, “You know you’re not black, right?” I asked what he meant by that. He said, “Well, almost every day you like something or post something about black people.” I had no words.

Do you know how many people have said similar things to me when I suggest we go see “Best Man Holiday” or they spot that Ebony magazine? “Why do you read that?” The answer: it’s inspirational. Ebony has features on successful black entrepreneurs, executives, teachers and others who have overcome adversity to get where they are today. An adversity I have never felt and never will. It makes me proud as a human and gives me hope that we are heading in the right direction. Despite closed-minded friends and exes.

It’s incredibly offensive to me to hear “You know you’re not black, right?” Why can’t I enjoy and learn about a culture that’s not my own? I like Japanese art and love sushi but no one has said to me, “You know you’re not Japanese, right?” If a black person loved Mozart, would you say, “You know you’re not white, right?”

That face! Woo baby.

In 1969 I was part of an urban experiment where they bussed in white kids to a black school and re-named it Martin Luther King Jr. Laboratory school. I was six. There was no world outside ours, where our friends were black and white and Asian and African and Jamaican and everything else. We sang “We Shall Overcome” at each assembly after we pledged allegiance to the flag. I believed that song. We all did.

I grew up in Chicago, then moved to Los Angeles–large, booming metropolises with many colors and cultures. But my forever dream since I was a child was to live in the woods, among nature and away from the city, and I was lucky to realize that dream two years ago. Although I had researched the demographics of my 7,000-person mountain town prior to the move, I didn’t realize how homogenous it was until I settled in. I missed the culture. I still do. When I go back to Chicago, where I feel most comfortable in a multicultural society, I realize how much I miss it.

(Wait, can you just look at that photo of Idris?! Growllllll. How can you not love that?)

Maybe I was black in another life. Or maybe I just grew up with the culture and love it and miss it. But yes, I know I’m white. You don’t ever have to remind me.