By Faith Lana Fuller
Musical genius Prince wrote a hit song titled “Controversy.” the lead single and title to his 1981 album. The song addresses speculation about Prince and the public scrutiny and curiosity of who he was. The public wanted to know about his sexuality, gender, religion and racial background. Essentially people wanted to label him and put him in the proper category. Prince didn’t fit the stereotype of what society felt a Black man should. Fans and critics alike were stuck and confused.
Like Prince struggled to understand the curiosity surrounding him, I often feel the same. Mainly, because people briefly have made me question myself. Well, they used to anyway. In middle school, I was labeled an “Oreo“. Not because I’m of mixed race and have fair skin and silky fine hair, but because of how I carry myself, how I speak, how I dress, and who my closest friends were. I’m what many of my peers consider a basic White girl (BWG), which means I like Uggs, Starbucks, and Lulu Lemon leggings. I’m articulate and hold education in high regard. I’m respectful and witty and growing more sophisticated with age. On the other hand, I’m not sporting a weave (not that there’s anything wrong with that), or speak very loudly while rolling my neck and waving my fingers in your face. My vocabulary isn’t limited, so I don’t need to shout profanities to make up for it. All stereotypes created so others can feel comfortable with labeling you and therefore know how to treat you.
Here’s the main problem with that thought process. Is there really only one way to be White and only one way to be Black in society? Can’t I be Black and appreciate the Black culture and White culture. Can I be feisty but not ratchet and still be accepted by both Caucasians and African Americans alike? Can I engage in stimulating dialogue without being a sellout or wannabe?
Why do some sectors of society put so much emphasis on racial stereotypes? What is Blackness? I see ‘Blackness’ in the great accomplishments of the first Black female entrepreneur millionaire in America, Madam CJ Walker. When I think of Zora Neale Hurston, an author, anthropologist, and filmmaker who portrayed racial struggles in the early-1900s and a talent who was way ahead of her time, I see Blackness. I have even witnessed ‘Blackness’ up close and personal having had the great honor to meet the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, the legendary Civil Rights activist, who led the fight against segregation and other forms of racism, and who was a strong pillar in our local community who graced our city with his presence for decades. Or, Mrs. Marian Spencer, Cincinnati’s former vice mayor and woman who dedicated herself to Civil Rights activism and racial equality. And finally, I also see ‘Blackness’ in my father, Courtis Fuller, WLWT-TV Anchor/ Reporter, and Emmy award-winning journalist and community icon/servant.
So when you think someone isn’t Black enough or is too Black, please give pause and educate yourself about what that even means. If it means anything. No matter what I wear, who my friends are, what neighborhood I live in, my parent’s social-economic status, or educational advancements, I will always possess that #blackgirlmagic and my Black is most definitely Black enough! I can’t be anyone other than the person God created me to be, so I’m going to be unapologetically my most authentic self. My Black is beautiful, intelligent, tenacious, strong, diverse, and so much more…And I’m okay with that.