Being a ‘part-time’ black girl at Temple

A student writes a letter from the perspective of a “part-time” black girl.

“Why is your mom medium mocha and your dad caramel swirl?”

“Why do you not wash your hair every hour like I do?”

“Why don’t you talk like insert random black girl here?”

“You don’t seem black enough.”

“Can you braid my hair?”

These are some of the questions I receive on a daily basis that never cease to make my disdain for the human race grow inch by inch. Being black, you are questioned on the day-to-day activities you perform, as if you are still fresh from Africa. I decided that instead of bashing the curiosity of my fellow people, I would explain once and for all that despite popular belief, I am normal, just like anyone else.

Let’s start with the statement that bothers me the most: “You don’t seem black enough.” I was uninformed that there was a universal black test that I took to prove my allegiance to the black cause. My bad—I’m sorry—how ignorant of me.  I also did not know that members of the black cause, whose test I had no knowledge of, then made white people the head test evaluators so that they could determine I’m not black enough. I wouldn’t tell a white female if she didn’t buy every Lilly Pulitzer wallet she wasn’t white enough, so don’t do that to me.

I’m also always asked about my parents. There is a lot of confusion about the fact that I live in suburbia—I assume I am supposed to be an inner-city kid, on welfare, rapping, dropping my mixtape, playing basketball, gangbanging, selling drugs, having babies, shooting lines of heroin in the bathroom of a project building, dancing, drinking 40 ounces and smoking weed with Snoop Dogg (because all black people know each other), or in prison.

My dad is a psychologist. My mom is a financial advisor. My dog, Maxwell, is a genius. It’s a pretty simple. My mom is medium mocha and my dad is caramel swirl because of genetics and his mixed background. Yet again, pretty easy.

My favorite question is: “why do you talk white?” I didn’t know that “white” was a language, however, thank you, because on my job applications I will now say I speak English, Spanish and “white.” I speak proper English because I went to school where I learned how to speak to other humans. That question baffles me to no end because I’m not sure how the person who asked me wants me to respond. I talk white because I wasn’t feeling blue today?

The main thing to remember is that no one wants to be treated like an outsider, especially because of race. Asking someone questions about their ethnicity is a good thing, but being a bigot is not OK. I have come to terms that I may always be viewed as a part-time black girl for not scoring high on the “blackness test.” I have also come to terms that people will stereotype me. I have accepted that I am not required to be anyone or anything but myself. That I can not change the cards I was dealt nor would I ever want to sacrifice my own identity to make other people comfortable. I do however, want you to keep in mind that people are different and when you go to ask someone questions on why they are the way they are: are you really curious to know about that person or are you simply trying to find a justification for your own ignorance?

Cierra Williams is a junior journalism student.  She can be reached at

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