No, It's Not OK To Adopt Black Culture If You're Not Black

No, It's Not OK To Adopt Black Culture If You're Not Black

And no, it does not make me feel comfortable.
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Black History Month, Marvel's "Black Panther," constant success across the country from young artists and go-getters all around, what isn't there to enjoy about black culture in today's society? It seems that almost now more than ever having pride in just being a black individual is at an all-time high, with seemingly no sign of that dropping anytime soon. Now I know I've literally said the word "black" about 4 times in the first paragraph of this piece and it may be a bit uncomfortable, but culture is something we should all be open and willing to talk about with an open mind.

As a 20-year-old minority, born and raised in NYC, trust me when I say I've had my fair share of strife with who I am as an individual in this ever-growing world. Throughout middle school and high school, I had a constant battle going on in my mind about whether I wanted to embrace who I was or deny it and try to fit in with most of society's standards. Gladly at age 20, I can now say that I'm glad I took the time out to learn and embrace my culture because, at the end of the day, it's who I am.

That's not to say that every day, myself and many others still don't encounter problems with people either underestimating, undermining, or just misunderstanding black culture. Whether it comes to hair, clothes, music, or language, it's important to know that black culture is exactly that. BLACK culture.

Now before I start, I want everyone to know that this piece is not, and never will say that everyone no matter what race, gender, preference, or ideal, cannot partake in enjoying and supporting black culture. UNDERSTAND, that there is a huge difference but a very thin line between understanding a culture and undermining it. It almost becomes second nature of minorities all across the U.S. to ignore microaggressions and continue with everyday life like nothing ever happened.

What happens when someone asks to touch your hair? Or when someone who isn't black says the n-word? Whether it's calling me your "brotha" or just blatantly yelling Cardi B's "Bodak Yellow" because you automatically assume I know the lyrics, know that these things ARE NOT OK within the black community.

Excuse me if I rant a bit (as I'm really trying my best to make a good impression here) but as a young African-American, I should not have to tell you that these things make me uncomfortable. It's one thing when it's coming from someone who you know has gone through the same struggles as you, but it becomes a different and more hostile story when the n-word or anything along those lines comes from someone who you know has no clue what your specific culture has gone through. If I wouldn't dare do something specific to your culture in an attempt to make you feel comfortable when we both know I have no clue what I'm doing or saying, what makes you think it's ok to do the same towards me?

No matter how popularized a certain phrase is, or how much of a "bop" that new Migos track is, it doesn't mean it's OK for you to say it in front of my face in an attempt for you to fit in with who I am. Diversity and sharing of certain cultural traits is a beautiful thing. Food, art, language, and ideals are only a few things that join us as humans together and make us beautiful. Before you say that word though, get that henna tattoo, wear that dashiki, ask that girl if you can touch her hair, or even assume that guy can just automatically speak Spanish because of how he looks, think about how it makes that person feel. I know the headline of this article says 'Black Culture,' but know that these rules (for the most part) are universal, across almost all cultures.

I can't begin to tell you how uncomfortable I've felt around people who feel like they need to acknowledge my culture in order to make me feel comfortable. Whether it's at school, work, or just on the street, a day seems to never go by without somebody pointing out indirectly that I'm black.

I work at the NHL store in New York City. I've been a fan of the National Hockey League since I was about four (which has been a struggle in and of itself). Seemingly every day, a fellow co-worker of mine never fails to acknowledge me as his "brotha." Note, that co-worker is not black. Actually, I don't think I'd be wrong if I said I believe he gets a little on edge every time a black person walks into a hockey store just to check out some apparel. Of course, after a couple days I called him out on it, but that's not the point. The point is, my strife is felt from people of all cultures across the world because for some reason certain individuals feel the need to identify me with who they THINK I am based on how I look.

Do not adopt my culture because you think it'll make me like you more.

Do not adopt my culture period, UNLESS you've taken the time to study, understand, and acknowledge it.

Even then, tread lightly.

I know I sound like an angst-filled young minority at this point, but I write this with good meaning. Please understand that it makes people uncomfortable when you acknowledge them based on their race. Please understand that it is not your right to adopt black culture, or any culture for that matter, because you feel it's the new fad or it'll make me like you more.

Take those cornrows out of your head.

Please take off that dashiki.

Don't get that henna tattoo.

No, that sari and/or bindi is not for you.

A Native American is not a Halloween costume.

Addressing a Hispanic person as Señor does not make them comfortable.

Do not dread your hair if you have no trace of a natural curl pattern.

Take the time to understand those around you. One less micro aggression or act of appropriation makes the world a much better place.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay / Pexels

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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Remaining Optimistic In A Cloudy World Is Difficult, Yet So Imporant

We tend to take the biggest hits at ourselves rather than those who may be slandering us much worse.

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We are all constantly going through something and we can hide it all we want, but it's present. There are so many difficulties that life brings to the table and we try to push those away and focus on the things that we can control. With those trials and tribulations, we are presented with challenges that test us on multiple levels. It's so simple to beat yourself up about the things that may be negatively occurring in your life over and over. We tend to take the biggest hits at ourselves rather than those who may be slandering us much worse. We cloud our minds and our bodies with the negativity that we take from the world rather than the great things that we accomplish daily.

As life is difficult and situations may bring out the best and the worst in us, we need to see more of the positivity in the world and allow ourselves to bring that light into the world. At the moment there is so much darkness but the light that we project is so crucial in order to create the world that we aspire to see. It's so simple to think of what's wrong the world and what needs to be changed but it truly does start with the way that we think as well as how we perceive the world ourselves. There is a truth with the reality of the space around us, but there is a perception that comes with it.

Even just changing the way that we think about one thing during the day from negative to positive, we could allow so much more light into our lives. By lightening a perspective or thinking of a way to see something different, a simple decision could leave so much more of a positive impact on someone's life. We are all here for each other at the end of the day, and the more kindness that we let out, the more that we can gain from one another. At a younger age hearing "What you put out into the world is what you receive" was a foreign phrase to me, but over time I realized the importance of the full circle that we live in.

Everything goes around in a circle, relationships, friendships, thoughts, and perspectives. We allow these to frame our thoughts and lives due to the importance that they hold in the world. The more that we care and listen to others, it'll become simpler to adjust our own framework to personalize and emphasize our feelings and what we want to personally put in the world. It's so difficult to see such a negative world and wanting to create a light yet not know how. So remember that it starts with you and everything you say and do will always have the ability to create happiness and kindness around the world. As life gets hard, keep holding on to what you believe in and you'll see that it'll frame the world around you.

"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow."
— Helen Keller

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