I was recently at a bar and I was the only Black woman there. I was forced to go to the New York bar because my brother’s old friend was having his 30th birthday party and I was dragged there against my will. Initially, I thought we were just going to be having a dinner, eat some cake and go home, so I dressed accordingly. When I showed up at the door, wearing jean capris, a t-shirt and sandals, I was shocked to realize this was a regular night club that was full of younger people, particularly younger women dressed to the nines and my parents were the oldest people there. It was humiliating.
Not only did I show up at a club with my parents in tow, but I was completely dressed down when all the girls were dressed up. Of course I got carded at the door because I already look young for my age, I don’t look like I’m 23. I admit, I look probably to be about 16 or so. It used to bother me that people mistook me to be so young, but the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve cherished my youthful look. I know that when I’m 30, I’ll look to be in my twenties while everyone else will look well…30 or older for some people.
Back to the topic, I was the only Black female, other than his relatives, that my brother’s friend invited. I felt completely out of place, I sat at the old folks table the whole time in misery. Not only was I underdressed, but I was the only Black girl and I got to thinking…I bet to other people watching I look like an angry Black woman.
I had a very bad night and I couldn’t help but feel that I had let other Black women down by becoming that stereotypes of the “ball-busting, attitude-having, no fun,” Black woman. But, the truth was I was incredibly uncomfortable and I am already a shy person. It has gotten to the point where I feel I can’t be completely human and I can’t feel the full spectrum of my emotions without someone stereotyping me or attributing my perceived weakness AS AN INDIVIDUAL as a character flaw of a stereotypical Black woman.
Carrying the weight of Black women stereotypes is holding me back. I need to feel like I can be myself. I need to be allowed to have my imperfections and to be me. If I an not on top of my A-game on a particular night, I wish that I wouldn’t have to feel like I’m representing poorly for all Black women. I can’t take that kind of pressure and it will only hold me back and keep me from growing.
From now on, I need to be me. I should not have to hold back my feelings or alter my behavior just to suit the needs of others. I am human and I have to be me.