Token Black Girl:
Sometimes I feel like that should have been my name on my birth certificate because this is pretty much the description I get from strangers.
Trust me, I’m not offended by this, but it’s just an easy way out. An easy way to describe someone when you can say something along the lines that have to deal with the way they dress or choice of perfume that they wear or lack thereof. An easy way to box all black women in one of a few of the same stereotypes because that’s what we see on television and movies so we must all look, speak and act alike since this is the only proof that stereotypes are real… when in fact this is the exact opposite.
There is danger behind this on so many levels. I have a few examples on the daily struggles of what it’s like being the token black girl.
Buying Makeup is A Painful Experience
Have you ever gone into a drugstore and knew that the salesperson was going to either give you a foundation too light or too dark? Say no more. I won’t name any names, but I was excited for this line to release a ton of products including its foundation. After walking around to find the foundation that actually matched my skin, I needed a second opinion like any normal person shopping for the right match to anything. So here I am asking the salesperson to help me test out the foundation, and this girl goes for the darkest shade. This bewildered me, I thought she was joking, and the worst part in all of this was that when I pointed it out to her… she laughed. She had a weird sense of humor. Let’s just say that I’m still on that journey to find the right foundation.
BHM: Everyone Looks At You When History is Being Disclosed
Elementary school was the worst for this. The announcer would discuss a daily fact on black history in February about the transformation in society created by black people. Since I was the only black person period in my whole grade, I’d be getting the looks like as if this was my mom or family member being talked about.
People Are Surprised By My First Name
The amount of times where people said things like I should have a ‘spicy’ name just cracks me up. What is spicy? Oh let me see: Shaniqua, LaQuisha, Letoya (my favourite on this list), Shanice, Tyanna, Sienna, Keke, Porsha… this list goes on. I love the majority of these names, but my first name is Paula, I was named after my father and didn’t have a say at birth. Even though I preferred having Monique (my middle name) as this first choice, I’ve learned to love the uniqueness behind Paula… so put some respect on my name.
The Obvious Choice of Music
Aside from Country music, I like a wide range of music. At any given time there’s the assumption that Beyonce is the only voice for all black women in particular. I get it, she’s an amazing entertainer, Lemonade was her best album so far, plus I’m even looking forward to seeing when her and Jay Z perform this year in concert. Plus, I was almost brainwashed to her music along with Destiny’s Child growing up. However, she is not my only choice of music. For example, when I write these blog posts, the variations are endless. One day I’ll be writing while listening to classical music like Mozart, then next is the Soca King himself Machel Montano, or Nina Simone, and right now I’m listening to Kanye West in the Late Registration era.
We Can All Dance
Thankfully I can dance. This is a great stereotype… shit I embrace this to the fullest. Yes I also used to sing and started at three (another wonderful stereotype), but stopped singing which led me to other hobbies, the singing may make a return. There’s nothing wrong with these stereotypes… I just know many who can’t dance.
Angry Black Girl/Women
God forbid that we have an opinion… sometimes it drives right into the Angry Black Girl syndrome. I get that there are times where some people especially on what seems to be a marginalized group: has the tendency to have chip on their shoulders, but most of the time there’s a reason behind this. The reason that I even say ‘marginalized’ is a term all on it’s own. It’s not a fair treatment to just call us angry because this trivializes the constant struggles of oppression that til this day needs to be talked about.
Being Reminded That You Are Black
People don’t think before they ask where you are from. The best is when they ask they put Jamaica as the default in guessing the question. How original. I could be from Germany for all you know or be from Nova Scotia, but I don’t sound German, from Nova Scotia or even Jamaican. At a young age, I would be confused with this question so I would say Trinidad before realizing that they weren’t asking for my background. Shit I’m still confused because when I say Canada, I get a blank response as though I should have said something else. On this note, let’s say if I lived in another country like the U.S. and for some reason my visa expired, I would get deported back to Canada, not Trinidad because I was born and raised in Canada… a Canadian citizen. This does not mean that I won’t get my Trinidadian citizenship… they just got their first female President who happens to be named Paula! Another favourite is when some black issue comes in hand and I’m expected to have the utmost voice of reason for this. No! Sometimes I just want chocolate and call it a day.
- We All Know Each Other
It’s either we know each other or somehow we are related. We must be sisters because that resemblance for some reason is so on point even though the last names are different, our backgrounds also differ and the list goes on. It’s so sad it’s comedic.
The whole point of this is that we are more than the stereotypes put in front of us. Stereotypes are just that, and most of the time they are superficial.
I get that in some places we may be the only black person you know, but that does not mean that we have differing opinions. We are complex, emotional, smart, sensitive, tough, intuitive, creative, nurturing, nerdy, educated, ambitious… just like anyone else.
The aspect that goes above and beyond the exterior.