A CUSTOM FIT
There are a select few people who have what it takes to be different. How do you define different? It depends on the person. Someone could be considered different if they wear Under Armour as opposed to the traditional sportswear giants like Nike and Adidas. Another could be different because of a food choice, fashion accessory or a number of other “different” choices. I’ve learned that even those considered “different” are really similar to others who push the envelope, go against the grain and challenge the norms set forth by society.
So really, what does it mean to be different? Do you know? To me, being different means being your authentic self at all times. Here’s the problem. We live in a world of compromise, but not the good kind. The kind of compromise we see is the one where we deny happiness, fulfillment and most other good things for the sake of a bigger situation. It could be a job, relationship, expectations of family members, whatever.
This all brings me to my point, or rather this question, why do black people want to fit in so badly?
I understand it is a blanket question that doesn’t apply to everyone in the race, so for argument’s sake let me hone in, why do black people in corporate America want to fit in so badly? In order to ascend, you have to be liked, it doesn’t apply to all, but for us we need to be liked. We have to be seen in a certain light to be promoted, and given the chances others often get while we watch. Another thing we have to be is raceless. What do I mean by this? It means that though our skin is black, we have no inward manifestation of what it means to be black. Like discussing the disparities we face, proudly embracing our culture and being fearless when it comes to the stares and opinions from those outside of the race.
One of our major problems is that we’re chasing the wrong thing. Who said people of another race are the prototype for success? Who said that our wealth aspirations have to come through the “traditional” ways of co-mingling? Who said climbing the corporate ladder that on certain rungs has been coated with oil, is the way to get things done?
Yet it is what has been pushed onto us from the education system and from our parents. Get a good education, get a good job, get married, buy a house, have children. These are the ingredients for “making it”. I disagree. Just yesterday I was walking to the gym in my suburban neighborhood and I had a hoodie on. For the rest of my life I will think of Trayvon Martin. All it takes is someone with a negative perception of you to act on it directly by following you or indirectly by calling the police. We aren’t afforded the benefit of the doubt.
Some in our community would say not to dress a certain way so it would eliminate the potential for a confrontation altogether. Yet, members of our race who were well dressed, driving nice vehicles get the same treatment if not worse. The bottom line is we do not belong. We know this, but we wake up each and every day thinking because we have material things, because we can pay our bills and have money left over for nice things and because we live in a safe neighborhood that we are living the American dream. This is a fool’s thought pattern. The American dream was written when we were slaves. When our women were raped. When our men were castrated and thrown to the sharks in the ocean for sport. When our children were ripped from their mother’s arms and sold thousands of miles away just for the purpose of evil. Do not tell me things have gotten better. It is all an act, all an exercise in what’s to come. We are like the round peg in a square hole. We do not fit. I’ve accepted this, maybe you will too.
“Truth unrehearsed is soon forgotten.”
“There are people of style and people of substance, be the latter.”
“The best decision is the one that does not force you to compromise
yourself or your purpose.”