Stop Calling Me White Washed

Practicing self-care, spoiling myself, and adventure isn’t a white branded experience.

“You’re such a white girl”, he said.

This was coming from a date I was on with a black guy, who later confessed that he only dated white girls- but I was different, a different kind of black girl. He couldn’t wait to tell his friends that he was actually dating a black girl

Huh? Well, this was a new one. I was stunned, not mad. Even curious. I went on a few more dates with him. I wanted to understand his perspective of this-situation.

Shouldn’t I be outraged for all the black women out there? 

At the end of the day, maybe I’m jaded, but my hate is too high of a price to spare. People are allowed to love whoever they want, regardless of their race.

I think the outrage comes not from dating another race, but from simultaneously trash-talking and hating your own. Men and women are guilty of this. 

He was open and honest with me. His confusion, preferences, and identity issues weren’t my problem. Technically on a bigger scale, I’m sure they were, but I’d been down that road too many times before. Miss save-a-man-at-your-own-expense. Nope.  

During our dinner conversation, I got down to the root of his hesitancy about dating black women and my whiteness. His summary was that, 

  1. He was bored of seeing black women. Only to find out that he was 25-leaving me whitewashed and a cougar.
  2. My look and mannerism, associated with feminity, gave him white vibes. 

After some time our dates dwindled for various reasons. I became anxious wondering if I was going to be added to his- see, this is why I don’t date black women hit list. Who knew?

What Does Being Called White Washed Mean?

Is being called whitewashed a derogatory term or a backhanded compliment?

Perhaps first, we should look at what it means to be black. An Afrometrics research study questioned participants on their self-definition of being black. Six themes emerged.

  1. Struggle and resilience– Twenty-five percent of participants identified being black with the struggle for equality, justice, fighting against racism, and other forms of oppression.
  2.  Ancestry– Twenty-three percent of participants identified being black as having and honouring their African ancestors.
  3. Pride– Twenty-three percent of participants identified being black as having a sense of empowerment, rich culture, and dignity.
  4. History and Legacy– Fifteen percent of participants associated being black with a past story, roots, and continuation of the lineage. 
  5. African Descent Community– Thirteen percent of participants associated being black with having a like-minded community, embracing cultural traditions and values. 

Why Do We Call Each Other White-Washed?

We call each other white-washed when we assume that a person cannot adopt aspects of another culture while maintaining their own.

Does adopting aspects of another culture contribute to a loss of our identity?

We’ve felt rejected in so many areas of life that we can’t bear the thought of being rejected by our own people.

I too have been guilty of calling people whitewashed. Subconsciously I was scared, scared that I’d be contrastingly black around them, that I’d have to keep my defenses up, that we couldn’t relate. Wasn’t that the same mentality that caused hate crimes and slavery? Just saying.

We, as black people, need to start taking more chances on each other. 

We are the ones who put expectations on our blackness. We judge each other’s blackness or lack thereof the most. 

We’re not blind or delusional to the racism and limitations society has tried to place on us. In light of our protests, there have been increasing opportunities for advancement. Now is the time. Now, there are platforms to challenge the stereotypes of what it means to be black.

People say that slaves were taken from Africa. This is not true: People were taken from Africa, among them healers and priests, and were made into slaves.- Abdullah Ibrahim

Why We Should Say Goodbye To Calling Each Other Whitewashed.

Being called whitewashed is a barrier to healing, self-esteem, and acceptance. We should say goodbye to the term, as it undermines the multifaceted nature of who we are. We’re more than rap music, WAP, drama, and thugs. We’re tech nerds, punk rockers, outdoor adventurers, and classical music connoisseurs. Renaissance people.

Assumptions That Being Called White Washed Creates,

  • That it’s not possible for black women to enjoy or try something outside of their culture or environment.
  • That black woman can’t be associated with femininity, travel, adventure, or sophistication. It’s normal to be seen as ratchet, but you’re fake when you act otherwise. 
  • That white women are rich, prim, proper, and have never experienced struggle. 
  • That it’s not safe for black women to be vulnerable, ask for help, or seek protection because we’re used to the struggle. It opens us to abuse.

Closing Thoughts

 In calling each other whitewashed we put limitations on ourselves.

The story started with a date centered around expectations of what black should be like. It continued with curiosity about what it means to be whitewashed, or not black enough.

We are the ones who judge each other the most. We put expectations on our blackness, although in part, fueled on the backs of media and society.

Twenty-five percent, (the majority) of people identified being black with struggle and resilience. They also honour pride, history, ancestry, and legacy.

While it’s important to acknowledge and honour the struggle of our ancestors it’s also important to acknowledge that black is multifaceted. We clutch on to struggle for dear life, feed it to our children, and sing it’s praise when we can create black identities through our individual stories.

Being called whitewashed creates barriers to esteem and acceptance. 

Being called whitewashed says that it’s not okay for black women to be vulnerable, feminine, and protected. 

Being called whitewashed says you can’t explore another culture without hating or abandoning your own.

Let’s change the narrative on what it means to be black. 

Black is expansive. Black can’t be boxed. 

Stop calling me whitewashed.

~Arlene~

Originally published on Medium in an Injustice.

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