by Daveta Saunders, Associate Director
A couple of weeks ago, walking through DeMoss Hall and I ran into one of my fellow colleagues who happened to be talking to a student; immediately she noticed me and she said, “Daveta, he (the student) says that he wants to be Black?”. I chuckled, and the student looked at me awkwardly and asked my colleague, “Who is she?”. As I listened to my colleague explain my job description, the student’s faced changed. After hearing about me, the student explained the statement, “I don’t want to be Black. I just think my people are a little boring and they always stick together.” He pointed behind me and said, “See!”. As I turned around slowly there was a group of students walking by from his ethnic background. As we all got a little chuckle out of the irony and timing of this incident, I said in my head sarcastically, “wow…point made!”.
After talking with the student and my colleague for a while, I found out that this student had been in the United States since his freshmen year of high school, which was predominately Black. I started sharing with this student about the Center4ME program called, BOLD - a cultural challenge program – one that takes people out of their cultural comfort zone. I politely said goodbye to my colleague and then addressed that student saying it was nice to meet him. The student responded back, “Yo, homie it was nice to meet you, too, holla!”. I was taken aback, as this statement was also made with hand gestures simulating a gang sign.
I knew I needed to say something and I did, “You just stereotyped me,”, I said to him and my colleague agreed. I asked the student, “What if I would have judged you in that manner?” and then gave some general stereotypes of his ethnic group. He nodded his head explaining that some were cultural norms and some were totally false. I then reminded him that he definitely needed to get involved with the Center4ME in some capacity and gain further insight on cultural matters. As, I said goodbye again, I felt as though I had to lighten the mood and end on a “good note”, so, I threw up a peace sign, smiled, and said, “Holla!”.
Yep, it bothers me often when people believe that all African Americans act like what is depicted in the media. The majority of the time, what you see in the media is a mockery to many African Americans. I will admit it is true that some of what is seen in the media is based upon how some African Americans behave, but to me 75% of it is offensive. The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31). A part of loving someone is to show them respect. I could have responded to that student and crushed his day, but I would not have behaved as a believer in the body of Christ.
So, what am I trying to say? There will be days in which you may be stereotyped because of the complexion of your skin. If that happens, you can do a few things: 1) shake it off and keep on moving; 2) shake it off and address the situation later, or 3) let the person know immediately with respect that they have offended you. I will refer back to Dammy Onafowokan’s blog from a few weeks ago - “be comfortable in your skin!”. God created you uniquely in the likeness of His image and all of us were raised with certain cultural characteristics. In closing, before you say that you want to be another ethnicity, think about the positives/negatives of…let’s say for example - being Black.
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