If I had £1 for every time time I've heard this, I'd be a very rich woman. To encounter this limitation of your blackness is not only hurtful but it can also be damaging to the idea of what "being Black" is. Being Black is NOT a choice, say it with me now... being Black is NOT a choice. It is however, a part of who I am. One day there will be a world where it doesn't need to be at the forefront of my mind but until that day I will be unapologetically Black.
Being a Black woman doesn't stop me from crying, my ears are not automatically tuned away from Rock music and I can say words like dear, poorly and brilliant without being a bounty. I was taught to speak well to broaden my opportunities in life; exactly what anyone else would do for those behind them. My musical tastes are eclectic (don't you just love that word) and this has lead me to have some beautiful relationships with a variety of people. As for the tears, well... this is still a dark and restrictive place for me. At times when my tears have burst forth I have been accused of manipulation (not to be confused with the dumpling making kind). I have been told that there's no need to cry and my favourite one "your tears won't change anything". Firstly, the latter is completely untrue, we all know how cathartic a good cry can be. However, upon locking away my tears, I have been called; hard, cold and emotionless. The stigma of the "Strong Black Woman" has propelled me forward whilst dragging me back like an emotionally charged bungy cord. Could this be the reason why mine - and others' - blackness is brought into question for the following things?
Don't like spicy food
Like alternative music
Enjoy being outdoors
Haven't seen movies like Coming to America, Harlem Nights or Eddie Murphy's Raw
Well I would just like to clarify that this list does not describe black people. I'd love to know where these archaic and limiting ideas of being black has come from.
If it ain't loud colours, loud music and loud voices then it ain't black right? Wrong! We are probably one of the most diverse races on God's green earth and it does us a disservice to use such restrictive measures. As I researched BHM 2021: Proud To Be, I came across Black Women Hiking, Black Equestrians and people teaching Black British History through the medium of a Treasure Hunt.
So if you like to stroll through the park with your shoes off whilst listening to Enya, this doesn't lessen your blackness. If you prefer knitting tea cosies over going raving on a weekend, this doesn't lessen your blackness. Do you like bird-watching, trainspotting, heavy into science or comic books? This doesn't lessen your blackness.
Being black is what you are, and it also makes up a part of who you are especially in the world we live in, but it does not dictate what you do or what you like. Be unapologetically Black, embrace your skin and your rich culture, explore your desires and ignore those that tell you, you can't do something because you're Black.