Last weekend, I went to a conference in South Carolina where the Chinese churches from around the region gathered together. I used to go to one a few years ago. It was good seeing them again, and the middle school boys still amaze me how they can run around and jump off of anything. One afternoon, some young men invited me to go hiking with them, and I was originally going to rest, and I only brought one outfit to be physically active in. So, I hiked with them in my blue jeans, and it was worth it. Now, how is it that I, a Black man, am hiking with young Chinese/ Asian men? Jesus. And one of them said I should write about this event… well, I did, so 😛
As I said before, I’m Black. With that being said , some may think there are certain qualities that goes with that statement. I may need to behave a certain way, or dress a certain way, or be a part of things that go along with me being Black. When I was in grade school, I wasn’t behaving the same way the others were. I can remember being the only Black male wearing Airwalks in middle school, and I can be wrong on that. I didn’t get into much of what the folks were listening to. There were things that we mutually listened to or watched, but it didn’t set up a possibility to communicate more. I didn’t hang out much in high school, going directly to the library after lunch and sticking to choir(s) and art. I didn’t know how to fit in, and I didn’t know where I belonged, and some of this was among Black people.
This carried forward to college. Something that helped me out was a Black Christian ministry, and I was in a gospel choir in high school, so it wasn’t hard to transition to a college one. I still didn’t hang out in a Black setting, though, and I would hang out with people who were doing poetry, and they were White. Why did this fear have to be set on me? Was I to overcome it? I don’t know, but it doesn’t take out the fact that I’m Black. I may not do what everyone else is doing, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not Black. I may bring something to the table that is unique, and we all should. I chose to do what I was interested in, and I hope to continue doing that.
There have been some people who wanted me to be “Black.” It seems like they wanted me to cosign with them, and I didn’t want to cosign with whatever they were saying or doing. I was trying to be me. And I believe those folks wanted me to cosign with them because it would make them feel comfortable to have someone like them. One dude was calling me an Uncle Tom for some unknown/ small reason, and currently he’s with a White woman. Some wanted me to behave like them, but it wasn’t in my character or design.
I look at how Black people depicted themselves over the years, and it changed a lot. I can’t find someone that sounds like the 1970s unless they were doing an impersonation. I think the behaviors have changed over the years, and some of us adapt to what is new and acceptable to keep things going. I think some of us portray an image for survival. How many want to act like a Beyoncé, or a Lil’ Wayne, or Harriet Tubman, or Malcom X, or a LeBron James, or one of the Love & Hip Hop ladies, or Condoleezza Rice, or Martin Luther King, Jr.? I wouldn’t mind seeing clones of Martin Luther King, Jr. I wouldn’t mind emulating him. I wouldn’t mind Black people expanding. Some of us live in areas others won’t step foot in, but it’s our place, and we don’t step out of comfort. It’s strange if some of us live in uncomfortable areas and don’t step out of our comfort zone. We helped start things off, like Rock n’ Roll, but we left it behind. It would be amazing to see more Black people break boundaries, because I see how innovative we are and how innovating we can be. And what we have done has been sprinkled all over the world, so we make a difference, no matter what is said about us or what has been done to us.
Not all Black people are the same. We may be into some of the same stuff, but we’re not clones. The stereotypes don’t fit everybody, and they shouldn’t fit at all. It’s one thing to see ignorance from the outside, but what about when it comes from the inside? We may laugh about it because they can be jokes, but some grasp onto it. I have coco butter in the house, but I don’t use it (I should, though). I have some rock and jazz in my music collection. I read comic books, watch wrestling, and wouldn’t mind eating cheese grits. Who can find someone else who are into those things? With that being said, we have our own unique design, and it leaves room for good interactions.
I had to put this in here: At the conference, I saw a person who welcomed me into the Sunday school and youth group at the Chinese church in South Carolina, along with others. She saw me, I saw her, and I was so happy to see her. I was going to cry, and she told me not to, but I was half crying and half holding it in. She along with her husband took up the missionary life, and I pray they are safe. People like her saw me, not Black, even though I am. We happen to follow Jesus. If that is what other people see, I can’t imagine what it can do for the Church.
And I’m just getting started.