Black Girls in Suburbia Documentary: This Suburban Black Girl Story

Black Girls in Suburbia Documentary: This Suburban Black Girl Story

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Black Girls in Suburbia is a documentary that takes an in-depth look into individual black women who were raised and/or live in a predominately white community. I must admit, the trailer is a bit too melodramatic in my personal opinion. Notwithstanding, it shouldn’t dismiss the actual pain of what these brave individuals share with the filmmakers; the balancing act of being true to oneself while defining, at times reeducating,  societal prejudice of what black is and is not, what white is and is not,  and what I am as a person am and what I am not.  The pain I felt may possibly be the same as the women in the trailer, it’s just I prefer to call the taunting bullying and the idea that an ethnic group behaves, acts, believes, and lives under a monolithic umbrella as a small world view (AKA ignorance). As a child, I had troubles with stereotypes regarding ethnicity due to the fact of being first generation American from parents who came from a predominately black country.  On school breaks, from the time of my earliest recollection to the end of my high school year, I would live in the New England United States and Haiti. I had two homes in two different countries. Both countries define race differently. In America, it’s a combination of skin hues, culture, and other factors. In Haiti, it was very simple. Either you were born in Haiti or you’re not. That simple. Regardless of skin hue, it was either you’re Haitian or you’re not, regardless of skin pigment. Contrary to what the United States media displays, Haiti has a 5% non-black, under United States classification of race, population. It also has a middle- to rich-class. The political issues in Haiti were more of classism. In the United States, there are both and our culture facilitates it with “acting black” and “acting white” stereotypes. In terms of classism, there is “trailer park” and “ghetto” when behaviors are deemed by an individual as uncouth or inappropriate. Both terms, that are locations where the underprivileged stereotypically reside, are used to debase another.

My personal, and life, experience wasn’t double-consciousness as defined by W.E.B De Bois as, “a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,–an American, a Negro; two warring souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” My experience is of racelessness as defined in the following passage:

“Racelessness is far more complex because people who transcend race are actually aware of how race negatively affects the daily existence of people of color. They have very likely experienced discrimination, yet they respond by understanding those situations as part of a broad societal problem; one in which they are deeply embedded, but not one that leads to their subscription to racial identity,” according to Rockquemore, as cited on a website for race transcenders.

Someone who is race transcendent, or raceless, may choose to identify by ethnicity instead, or emphasize another part of their personal heritage, such as nationality, language, or culture.

“… According to professor Jennifer Hochschild, who teaches “Transformation of the American Racial Order?”, there are three groups of people that might refuse to identify by race: 1) disaffected (probably white) people who believe the world is post-racial and that we should all be color-blind; 2) recent immigrants for whom American racial categories simply do not resonate nor make any sense; and 3) bi-racial or multiracial people who do not identify with any particular racial category.”

I would like to add to Jennifer Hochschild’s groups of people who might refuse to identify with race, who are white, are raceless (those who would identify themselves as; Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans, for an example). They understand “white privilege” in the context of class. I’m sure if we search out Caucasians who reside in a predominately black community, they may have experienced the effects of discrimination from both individuals: white and black. In the case of white, it may be classism or culture. This is where the “acting black” comes from. It comes from the culture of music; since music determines fashion and language (slang), the fashion that identifies with the music genre. I’ve met individuals who take no issue with African-American country singer Darius Rucker (lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish), but will squirm if a male dressed like Eminem (Marshall Bruce Mathers III). For some, Darius appears less threatening than a white man who dresses like Eminem or Black Sabbath. Residing in suburbia, I realized the difference between racism, prejudice, and American culture/society that permits racism and prejudice to continue, in which continues the acceptance of ignorance. Scientific studies have proven that our culture produces stereotypes that individuals adopt, either knowingly or unknowingly. These are stereotypes that continue the cycle of educational tied in with economic disparities.

In the case of talking, sounding, and “acting white” it’s one major root cause that many African-American children faces that prohibits them to excel academically. Many African American children who enjoy a subject or desire to do well in school to secure an economically stable future are oftentimes discouraged with name calling, bullying, and accused of being a nerd, with the addition to race baiting. Speaking proper English is “not black.” Listening to a certain music genre that is not dominated by black entertainers that also influence the fashion culture, is “not black”. Not being interested, as well as doing poorly, in American, ethnic based sports (basketball, football) is not black (American for soccer, in countries outside the U.S. football,  is stereotypically viewed as a white sport or a sport for the middle- to wealthy-class). The American media perpetuates these stereotypes and, sadly, people believe them as truth-including the ethnic group that is stigmatized by them. The lack of inadequate funding to areas of poverty (rural and urban communities) is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The living conditions (violence, alcoholism, drugs, etc.) within those communities are what we see this being played out in our politics, media, and music. What’s not discuss, with passion,  is the affect our media, and we as people, define what white and black is that is also affecting the academic achieving gap of African-American and Latino communities.  As a child, I was hurt hearing such naming calling and bullying thrown at me. Not for myself, but for the individual who threw them at me. It’s really sad that academic achievement is taboo, for the other alternative is poverty, economically struggling/dependency, and, at times, prison.

Living in suburbia, I’ve witnessed that, in the grand scheme of things, we’re not that different. Academic excellence in certain communities can be seen as stigmatizing for children. The Revenge of the Nerds is the prime example of anti-intellectualism. The double whammy is the skin pigmentation and culture. For immigrants, and children of immigrants, it can be the added bonus of how much one can assimilate or learn America’s racial classification. A prime example is the use of the words; Eurocentric, Caucasian, and white people. As a first generation American who lives in suburbia, I learned that in U.S culture of race individuals from Armenia, Turkey, and Azerbaijani are exempt from what is considered Caucasian or Eurocentric. I must admit, to this day, it doesn’t make sense for scientifically and geographically speaking, they’re the scientific term of Caucasian (people from the Caucasoid) and the countries are in Europe. Likewise, I’ve found that individuals in America view the continent of Africa in one monolithic umbrella. When, on the continent of Africa, the black folks also have their own ethnic classification, even within countries. Similar to the difference in culture of northern, southern, mid-west, and pacific coast states, even within the states. So, it is with black girls in suburbia. We experience the suburban life different for many reasons. What we do share with one another is the balancing act or racelessness. What we share with all individuals with our skin hue is the racial disparity, prejudice and/or racism, within individual institutions and individual people; wage disparities, racial profiling of the criminal justice system, promotion discrimination,  housing discrimination, and other discrimination based on our race (for black women, both race and gender). Our struggles are the same, but also different. One doesn’t necessarily have to relate to it, just try to understand it.

About nouvellenoirgoddess
  • Mike

    very interesting. Thankyou

    • http://www.facebook.com/jacquiemg Jacquie Minerva Georges

      I thank you, Mike

  • Mike

    very interesting. Thankyou

    • http://www.facebook.com/jacquiemg Jacquie Minerva Georges

      I thank you, Mike

  • http://hellenicpolytheist.wordpress.com/ Pythia Theocritos

    Thank you for sharing this with us as these were the circumstances I grew up in and, at times, it was very difficult. It’s a fine line and balancing act with little to no protections. I’ve shared it on Facebook and I hope it will encourage dialogue.

  • http://hellenicpolytheist.wordpress.com/ Pythia Theocritos

    Thank you for sharing this with us as these were the circumstances I grew up in and, at times, it was very difficult. It’s a fine line and balancing act with little to no protections. I’ve shared it on Facebook and I hope it will encourage dialogue.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jacquiemg Jacquie Minerva Georges

      Thank you, Pythia, for sharing your thoughts and sharing this page. I do hope we can establish a dialogue on this and I’m humbled and enthused that there is a film on this matter. There are different types of suburbia and each of us have our own experiences in suburbia. My experience, I can understand totally for I’ve met a few people of color who did the balancing act. As in feeling they must represent the entire black population. I never felt that I had to represent anyone but myself. Although I do know that other’s thought I needed to or I am. It’s too much ‘weight of the world’ to do this. The media doesn’t really assist with this process, although. At least not as much. I know many tried such as shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, The Good Wife (these are the shows I watch) that show another side of black Americans. The middle class, educated, and professional side vs. the urban films that tend to show more urban life. That is not to say that middle class blacks are ‘post-racial’ for we do have our own struggles (wage disparities among the middle earners pending on the institution that hires them or individuals who give the promotions for not all employers are created equally). It’s a different type of struggle but all the same. I’ve been paying a lot of attention, as of late due to internet, the difference in thoughts, opinion, and media reporting. Do black Americans have the highest unemployment rate? Yes, but those stats correlate with our high school drop out rates (back to education), therefore not enough jobs for the under degree educated (for receiving a piece of paper or educational/professional title doesn’t make you smarter than those who are without such degrees or titles) for many individuals with degrees are being employed into jobs that don’t call for degrees due to the economy. What is not reported is that although we do have highest poverty rates, we also have 4 out of 5 black Americans who are middle-class/ upper middle class. Even living in affluent black communities such as these ones;http://www.africanamericandigest.com/Affluent_African_American_Communities.html. These stories are very silent. Not all of them gain success via entertainment industry (music, sports, acting, producing, ect). Lastly, I was speaking to several of my friends regarding this (black women who live in the suburbs) that at times we personalize our skin color to much that we’re blinded by societal prejudice of other people. Take for instance the ‘angry black women’ We’ve seen the same stereotypes with the ‘Angry Italian Women’ (shows like Real Housewife of New Jersey, Jersey Shore, Mafia Wives, ect perpetuates the angry, I’m going to kick you ass Italian woman) or the “fiery red-head/ginger woman” (who is stereotypically Irish or Scottish) or the “spicy or hot Latina woman”. I guess living in an integrated community who see more of others battles based on nationality, religion, gender, creed, ect. Where if one lives in a segregated communtiy who only see these negative images of what “your own’

  • http://klgaffney.livejournal.com/ K. L. Gaffney

    To an extent, I could add having exposure to a wide range of situations, traveling, having interest in or studying cultures outside of one’s own is considered “not black” as well.

    Fascinating that this post came to my attention at this point; I had only just experienced another black woman informing me in all seriousness that “we didn’t wear that.” in reference to my style. It was like high school all over again. We both live in the same suburb, but it’s clear that we came to this place from different paths and her attitudes have been shaped by different experiences than mine.

    I’ll keep explaining to people that my skin color does not change no matter what I do or where I go until I lose my voice; I define what black is by living my life the way I choose. I will not let these arbitrary standards define me. That was what I had to learn, living in the boundaries of a mostly white fairly affluent suburb and a mostly black major city. Cultivating that attitude has done me a lot of good.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jacquiemg Jacquie Minerva Georges

      I’ve learned to hit the “ignore” button when individuals
      make the “black must..” comments, pending upon my mood. There are just
      sometimes when an individual who makes an outlandish comment only struck a
      nerve for they were the last straw that broke the camel’s back (they just got
      lucky).  

      On a level of childhood, it’s
      another entire issue for children’s academics are being influence, in turn their
      future. We may very well need an “It Gets Better” movement targeting specific
      bullying that is unique to each sub- group of children. Within “our” community
      for a boy “acting hard” is praised; aggression, lack of showing a sign of
      sadness, disappointment, humiliation, and at times respect for individuals
      (particularly girls) or groups is viewed as “unmanly” Basically, anything
      associated with feminine trait is taboo. It emotionally stunts our growth. It
      is very well much the cause of individuals who absolutely brilliant and
      talented. It breaks my heart, really.

      Anyways, I hold the same standard as you (your last paragraph). Thank you for sharing!

  • http://klgaffney.livejournal.com/ K. L. Gaffney

    To an extent, I could add having exposure to a wide range of situations, traveling, having interest in or studying cultures outside of one’s own is considered “not black” as well.

    Fascinating that this post came to my attention at this point; I had only just experienced another black woman informing me in all seriousness that “we didn’t wear that.” in reference to my style. It was like high school all over again. We both live in the same suburb, but it’s clear that we came to this place from different paths and her attitudes have been shaped by different experiences than mine.

    I’ll keep explaining to people that my skin color does not change no matter what I do or where I go until I lose my voice; I define what black is by living my life the way I choose. I will not let these arbitrary standards define me. That was what I had to learn, living in the boundaries of a mostly white fairly affluent suburb and a mostly black major city. Cultivating that attitude has done me a lot of good.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jacquiemg Jacquie Minerva Georges

      I’ve learned to hit the “ignore” button when individuals
      make the “black must..” comments, pending upon my mood. There are just
      sometimes when an individual who makes an outlandish comment only struck a
      nerve for they were the last straw that broke the camel’s back (they just got
      lucky).  

      On a level of childhood, it’s
      another entire issue for children’s academics are being influence, in turn their
      future. We may very well need an “It Gets Better” movement targeting specific
      bullying that is unique to each sub- group of children. Within “our” community
      for a boy “acting hard” is praised; aggression, lack of showing a sign of
      sadness, disappointment, humiliation, and at times respect for individuals
      (particularly girls) or groups is viewed as “unmanly” Basically, anything
      associated with feminine trait is taboo. It emotionally stunts our growth. It
      is very well much the cause of individuals who absolutely brilliant and
      talented. It breaks my heart, really.

      Anyways, I hold the same standard as you (your last paragraph). Thank you for sharing!


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