May these entries be a record of my young creative mind in a peak of teen angst. Now, although I am a teen, my issues cover more than melodrama. I am not Molly Ringwald’s 80’s characters, my stress doesn’t exude from the existence of a basic crush or the cup size of my bra. At this stage in my life, I feel as though every waking moment has been some type of epiphany. As a young black person, while my goal is to be carefree, I truly can’t when my ears are absorbing nothing but politics and societal expectations.
I didn’t realize, that pace in which I have grown up was faster than some could know. Many people label me as mature for my age, and to that, I internally nervously chuckle. My ability to strap on the adult gun doesn’t come naturally. It comes from years of experiences that have forced me to perceive my existence in a new way. No not in an existential crisis, but like a quick understanding of race, sexuality, gender and how it contributes to my self-esteem at a young age. Now not every person of color is automated to understand these things with ease. I speak on behalf of myself when I say that I have a loose grip on these things (which is getting tighter as time progresses). My mom has reminded me since a young age that I was black, that my melanin would give people a reason to paint me as a criminal. “No hoodies inside, they’ll think you’re a threat,” is something I have trained myself to be aware of. I am so complex and multidimensional, yet am dumbed down to this narrative. My ability to carry this type of weight should have more value. It shows that I am being carved into a figure, produced by multiple aspects of our environment. I speak more about this through my art, because as artists we can connect to people in a very special way.
This brings me to my next concept. Why is it that the system works so far from my benefit and growth? It is almost to me like my presence in this bit is seen as the token black individual. I am supposed to be this character that a white savior educator swoops up and shapes into an ideal citizen. I feel as though they undermine my hyper-awareness and sum up my intelligence based off of the scores I reach. For every 100 white figures in history, there are like 3 black people, all from the same era. My point is that people of color are undermined as scholars and intelligent beings when their understanding of their culture and place in society. IT SUCKS. Sometimes I feel as though even with the academic high point I may reach, I will still be hit with the barrier of society’s perception of my existence holding me back. My personal approach to this issue is heavily based on spreading awareness on this concept. Luckily, We have access to the internet and the bit of progression that our generation is going for. I encourage people to, to the best of their ability, diversify the types of people they learn from. Hearing other people’s stories beyond the whitewashed state of what we are already taught is way more interesting and eye opening. Afrofuturism is a perfect example of poc reclaiming their voice and role in society. SO DUDE….support your artists of color, especially the young ones.
above image by Mithusca Berry