Have you ever heard a black person tell another black person to stop acting white? Or you may have heard a black person make the comment, “You must hang around a lot of white people.” Why would someone say that? How does a white person act? In parts of the black community, there are many things that are hurting our people, such as: crime, poverty, immorality, the status quo, broken families, etc. In addition, ignorance, disunity, and the lack of education promote and accept the misconceptions, which needlessly tear down our neighbors, and contribute to our own demise. Sadly, we don’t have to worry about an outside enemy destroying us, because in many regards, we are our own worst enemy. Will we continue to accept and to promote the self-sabotage and self-destruction? Will we break the chains of the wrong thinking and the wrong actions that are keeping our communities in bondage?
Unfortunately, when people speak out of ignorance, most times any possibility of making a positive connection with others or building a bridge is shut down; and any statements or arguments that follow are generally discounted, ignored, and/or given no credibility. Whether it is fair or not can be debated, but I have seen this scenario occur many times. However, the best way to dispel ignorance is to get the right information.
So what does it mean for a person to “act white?” This misconception and misnomer of “acting white” is always associated with success, proper etiquette, excelling, accountability, or achievement. For example, some in the black community would consider getting good grades in school, articulating a grammatically-correct sentence, being on-time, dressing neatly, being responsible, having a professional job or working towards one, eating at a nice restaurant, etc. as “acting white.” So if these positive things are considered to be “acting white,” then what is considered to be “acting black?” Should we be failing, always late, lazy, wearing our pants below our waist, unkempt, irresponsible, doing immoral things, only working entry-level jobs, and always eating unhealthy foods? It seems as though the segment of the black community who uses the “acting white” label never says it when our people are behaving unmannerly. Negativity is accepted, given a pass, seen as a badge of honor, or at the very least considered to be “keepin’ it real” by that same segment of people. Is being negative or a bad example what “acting black” is really all about to some people?
We have to expand our minds, so that we can see the world more clearly and in a more complete scope. If not, we will always be left behind and we will never be taken seriously. If all you know is your surroundings, then how can you judge the rest of the world? If all you know is Hamburger Helper, then how can you judge Filet Mignon served Oscar style? If you have never read Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, then how do you know if calling someone an “Uncle Tom” is an actual insult or a compliment? Was “Uncle Tom” a good guy or a bad guy? The next time someone uses the term “Uncle Tom” in a negative manner, ask him/her if he/she has ever read the book or if he/she has ever researched the “Real Uncle Tom,” Josiah Henson. Most people have never heard of the man who was the inspiration for the character “Uncle Tom.” When you get a moment, read the book or research the life of Josiah Henson. He was a good Christian man who helped to free many slaves, and to educate many former slaves. But the neighborhood lingo will teach you that an “Uncle Tom” is a sell out, or a black person who wants to be white. Again, we dispel ignorance with the right information.
I am convinced that ignorance is a tool of the enemy to stop people from achieving God’s best. The reality is that no one can stop you from achieving God’s best. Only you can stop you, because if you begin to believe the negativity, the ignorant lies, and the misconceptions, you will lose. Negative words can only hurt you if you believe them. Don’t let ignorance steal your confidence, frustrate and defeat you. Remember, you defeat ignorance with the right information. There is nothing “white” about intelligence, cleanliness, responsibility, proper grammar etc. You just have to make the quality decision that you will not be influenced by ignorance, and that you will do the right thing and succeed. The choice is yours.