My Urban Dilemma
I was ashamed of being from Montgomery County, MD because it was a predominately white middle-class jurisdiction. I wanted to be sure that the world knew I was real which to me was an authentic black person who didn’t act white.
The only problem here is, I took my cues about being real as well as acting white without an accurate understanding of Global history. I had that flawed, watered down, anecdotal understanding of racism, yet totally oblivious to how all societies are manipulated and organized by systematic oppression.
If only my K-12 curriculum had thoroughly introduced me to the African diaspora and the purpose of Black Liberation Movements, I would have then been proud of being from Montgomery County, as I am today.
At some point, I wondered if acting white was the better option as opposed to being real. I had the choice after all, right? I was actually trying to understand what either really meant and the implications of choosing. The Urban Dilemma was born because I realized this kind of split personality. A dilemma.
I couldn’t decide what I wanted to be anymore. Do I want to make my way through corporate America (“sell-out”), or do I want to build something from the grass roots (for “my people”)? I have the knowledge and skills to do either. I realized I just needed to express myself and this blog is a result of that. It’s therapeutic.
Two opportunities I wouldn’t trade for a million dollars is one, moving into The District of Columbia to experience the inner-city living first hand and two; majoring in Liberal Studies (concentration: African American Studies) at an HBCU deeply embedded into the Civil Rights Movement.
I was finally learning what I didn’t even realize I was in search of my whole life. Answers to the race relation dichotomy between blacks and whites. I learned that “real niggas” are actually poor and of poverty culture, not authentic black culture. This revelation finally hit me while analyzing data for my Senior Research Project on the High School Drop-Out Epidemic.
Before researching in an academic setting, I assumed most black people failed and struggled because they, like me, decided to be real and not act white. I didn’t acknowledge my privileged up-bringing versus theirs or that I was choosing to be ghetto while they were conditioned and had no choice of surviving by any means.
Ultimately, I didn’t realize there was a myriad of authentic black culture and success was more associated with access to opportunities. Out of this myriad of black culture come the noble people, the pioneers of jazz, hip-hop, and the Black Arts Movement preceding it. The people who are aware of The Urban Dilemma and uplift the positive aspects of poor and poverty culture, denouncing the status-quo unapologetically. That’s who I want the world to see me as.
I didn’t realize what strides my single mother took to raise my sister and me. I didn’t realize her relentless effort to do what was necessary to have her daughters live the “good” life versus the “hood” life. I didn’t realize we lived in Montgomery County because it had clean and safe neighborhoods, home to some of the best schools in the nation.
I didn’t realize I wrongfully assumed black people in Montgomery County weren’t authentic black people because I didn’t know being authentically anything is a result of your individual environment and collective culture. There is no actual standard for “blackness” or “whiteness.”
I didn’t realize that acting white was made out to be anything not black because black and white are social and political classifications determined and assigned by the dominant culture, who make up the global oppressors of all people.
Being real and acting white can be more accurately described as being ignorant or acting intelligently, respectively. It’s choice, not biology. Being noble means working in the best interest of your family and community to fight against adversity.
My mother wasn’t, by any means, trying to act white or assimilate into white society by residing in Montgomery County. She simply worked hard and reaped the benefits of that ethic. She was being noble.
Thanks for reading!