Becoming a Stereotype

Duane - PLeasant Valley, Missouri
Entered on November 4, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: race
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“You are the whitest black person I’ve ever met,” people always say to me. “Yea, ok,” I say blankly as I really don’t know what that means. My whole life I’ve wondered why people say this. Why people put me in a little box labeled black and expect me to act a certain way.

Throughout childhood I always felt that the inner aspects of somebody mattered more than the outer appearance. I guess I am an outcast or rebel as I do not follow the stereotypical cultural standard of a normal Black-American guy. More or less I have become white…. My closest friends consist of mostly white people. I am not compelled to ideas saying I have to be among black people all of the time because I am black; because I choose my own friendships with whomever I choose. For some reason, stereotypes have consumed the world, and now as a human culture, we define people by these stereotypes and nothing else.

I realize now what a stereotype is because for some odd reason I have become one. People see the color of my skin, and see black, but they talk to me and say white. How do words become something other than words? When does something that describes our outer appearance suddenly become who we are? Our society has been rattling our brain and toying with our subconscious telling us something that really is not.

“You know Duane,” my friend said “you’re the only black person in this class.”

I pondered a moment. “What do you mean?”

“This is a challenge class,” they said. “You’re the only black person in here.”

I didn’t really hear anything after that, I just slummed back into my chair as restless thoughts clumped together like a huge mob in my head: Why would a close friend say that to me? Did they mean for it to be hurtful? Is it just society? Why?

I thought for a long time just gathering my thoughts, trying to understand why colors are so characteristic in this society. I wanted to find an answer for what they meant black and white, brown and yellow, and even red and blue.

I finally a realized that people can’t be defined by the color of their skin but by who they are. I believe that you should be able to be who ever you want to be no matter what color of skin you were born with. Just because the color of my skin is black, I shouldn’t be expected to wear baggie clothes, speak illiterately, not be educated, or end up in jail.

“You are in challenge class and you are black.”

Now that I am entering into the age of understanding the world and how it works, I see what colors mean. I found that colors mean nothing but just a cover up for our face and body. A color gives brightness to the world and nothing more.

We as a people have been subjected to stereotypes like how we should dress, how we should walk, and how we should talk. So when my friend tells me that I am the only black person in a challenge class I can say, “I know.”