Open-Minded: I Am Smart and Black

via Discover Challenge: Open-Minded

Hello, friends. The whole point of this post is to talk about a time when being open-minded paid off, or when someone else made an incorrect superficial judgement. This is my first time doing a Discover Challenge, and this topic really spoke to me.

There have been times when people would come up to me and say things like, “You speak very well for a black girl.” I never quite understood that. I then came to realize that when most people think of Americans, they think of the average white girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. She has a nice hourglass figure, and is just the perfect weight.

A few weeks ago, I was watching a Buzzfeed video about Asians being represented in famous movie posters in America that usually have white actors and actresses front and center. There was one ignorant comment that basically stated, “You Asians can be front and center in movie posters over in Asia. You don’t see us going over there to be in all of your movies.” He said some other things, too, but that really got me upset.

I responded to the comment, saying that just because you are white, it doesn’t mean that you’re American. In the other part of his comment, he was basically stating that anyone who wasn’t white was not American. I said that this really offends me, because he was saying that me, being African-American, was not an American citizen.

Being Asian, you are presented with stereotypes: smart, geeky, strict parents.

Being white, you are presented with stereotypes: rich, smart, lawyers, alcoholics.

Being black, or Latino/Hispanic, you are presented with stereotypes: uneducated, dirty, poor, violent.

There is a joke among my friends that I am violent, and my father sat me down to tell me about this, saying that it doesn’t help their way of looking at all black people if they call one of their only black friends “violent” and “scary” on a daily basis.

There have been teachers in the past to doubt my abilities. I have many friends who are in the gifted program at my school, and they were tested without problem.

It took me years to get into the gifted program.

It wasn’t because I wasn’t smart enough, no. I could be in the program. It’s just that there were teachers that didn’t think I could do it.

In first grade, I was tested, but I was never told what for. I was brought to the guidance counselor’s office to take a hard test, and no one ever told me what it was for. I thought I was in trouble. Maybe if I had known what I was doing, I would have tried that much harder and gotten into the gifted program earlier.

I was tested again in the sixth grade, and made it.

A lot of those same friends that had been in the program began to doubt me and my mind. They would say things like, “Oh, well she isn’t helping us in this project at all, so how about we just do something ourselves.” That was said in front of me before, and I was livid.

I immediately threatened to take away everything that I had contributed to the project so I could work alone. That included the four poster boards that we actually had to present the project on.

I sent her a very long (and well-written, mind you) text, stating exactly what I thought of her saying that I wasn’t helping with this dumb group project!

The funny thing about that, is that through all of seventh grade, everyone basically got lazy with group projects in certain classes and left their grades in my hands!

My mother even wanted me to go to a different high school because of the way the teachers treat the gifted students that are black there.

I just want to tell all of you: Do not accept stereotypes because they are what you have grown up knowing. Meet new people, and watch them break those stereotypes.

Don’t give in to discrimination, whether you be white, black, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, straight, gay, bi, pan, trans, queer…whatever you are, something some random person made up about you doesn’t define who you actually are.

Thank you,

Yellow Eccentricity

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