"They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself." –Andy Warhol
What if I gave you all my time
And I let you change me?
If you want me to be completely honest… when I was younger,
I didn’t like being Black. I didn’t draw Black people when I drew pictures, I drew little yellow-haired people with peachy skin and eyes like sapphires, because that’s what I saw on the magazine covers. I was told by my White friends all the time, ‘You’re definitely not Black, Gwen, you’re as White as it gets.’
I liked this, or at the very least accepted it. Despite everything my family taught me, the media was louder, and it told me that Black was bad. It was ghetto, it was loud, it had a name that looked like it was made from smashing a keyboard. It was felony and poverty, baby daddies and stupidity, and it was a genetic disease that I was a carrier of but of which I was not actually infected.
I wasn’t Black, they said, because I was intelligent, well-spoken. I was proper and scholarly, I didn’t swear or listen to rap music, and I didn’t wear any sort of hair that didn’t grow from my own head. These traits and qualities made me "White".
But I’m seeing more and more Black celebrities doing good things, more and more Black kids like me making scientific discoveries, making inventions, contributing to the arts, and caring about the earth. I’m seeing more of these things, not because they’re finally happening, but because we’re finally paying attention. I also see some of these same amazing people listening to rap music. Some who wear weave and are loud, whose names auto-correct doesn’t recognize, who fit the "Black stereotype" that we’ve invented, and I realize that none of that makes them any less intelligent, beautiful, or valid than anybody else. People my color aren’t just the bad guys in the news or the first ones killed in horror movies. We’re so much more than that. We aren’t punching bags and we certainly aren’t anybody’s punchline.
Yes, friends of mine who so often mislabeled my ethnicity, I am extremely intelligent, and kind, and beautiful (and not just "pretty, you know, for a Black girl”). Yes, I am all of these things, and I am also Black.
Blackness and brilliance are not mutually exclusive."