6th Grade~ish, various other times
Being told by black peers and other people of color that I am “not really black” as I don’t dress the same, speak the same, like the same things they do, share the same religion, and the list goes on.
I was raised with the idea to foster community with other Black people. But by this time in my life I found it difficult. I was already different due to being one of the few minorities in my daily life. That same experience caused me to be ostrasized from Black people because I didn’t pass their lithmus tests. Much like my experiences with Christianity, I simply decided that I would not seek out groups that did not want me. And thus, I did not view myself as “Black”, for good and for ill.
This has been a double edged sword, and none of it particularly good.
I had a tendency to avoid people that made my race a sticking point. I got really tired, really quickly about being told who I was by people who did not know me. And it is strange, as I said previously. I was at once deemed “not Black (enough)” and in the same tangent sought out for validation on particular issues. I disassociated myself from anything that was “Black” per my definition. If it was Black, ghetto(-fabulous), ‘hood, African-American… I actively kept such things away from me knowing that I would be told that Blackness did not stack up was inevitable. This even made family interactions somewhat difficult as I remember hearing some ask ‘Why does he talk so strangely?’
Still, I was saddled with the perception of being Black from the whole of the world. The way I spoke did not matter. My intellect did not matter. My good behavior did not matter. The person I had become did not matter. Just like I was damned to Hell for not being baptized, I was “lesser than” because I didn’t nail “my race” as it was told to me to the level of onlookers.
On the one hand, I wasn’t “keeping it real”, although if I had I would have been disingenous to myself. On the other I was a sellout because I utilized my education and continued to try to find myself outside of my immediate surroundings.
And now I am going in circles. Apparently I am not good at putting words to my frustration. As such, hopefully you can see my point.