a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

“You’re the Whitest Black Person I Know!”

Posted on: May 15, 2011

**Warning-Swearing, ranting, and general anger will follow.  Read at your own risk**

What the Fuck does that mean?

I have no clue, but I’ve heard it for MY ENTIRE FUCKING LIFE and I’m completely over it.  Today, I heard it from one of my subordinates, who happens to be a gay Latino man.

Let me just say, there is no reason that two people with double “other” status should argue, but this is a bit how the conversation went.

Scene-Erika dancing

Guy-”Oh my god, you’re the whitest person I know.”

Erika-”Really?  Why?”

Guy-”You just don’t move like a black person.”

I don’t move like a black person.

Erika-”Really?”

Guy-”Seriously, whitest black person I know.”

Erika-”What does that mean, white man?”

Guy-”I’m Latino.”

Erika-”You are so lucky, you get to hide behind your pale skin and walk through the world never proclaiming your Latin roots.  You’re a gay “white” male to the world!  You’re trying to tell ME that I’m a whitest black person you know?!  I can never be white, I can never pass for white!!  Look at me-I’m Black!”

It went on from there about the privilege he has walking through the world as a Latino man who doesn’t “look” Latino.  I then asked him what I was supposed to sound like, look like, act like?  Because I am black I’m supposed wreak havoc on the English language.  I suppose since I’m black I live off of the system and have several children by fathers who are in jail.  I must listen to rap music.  I must wear a weave.  I can dance, I can play basketball, and I can sing.  If you’re lucky, I’ll smile in your face and do a little jig for you too, masta.

But wait, it gets better.  He told me that I was the whitest black person he knew because of “that star” I wear around my neck.  (For the record, I’ve been wearing a chai).

Erika-There are black Jews, _____”

Guy-”Yeah, you.”

Erika-”Are you really that ignorant?”

My entire life people have told me this.  These people have been black people and while it’s just as fucked up for a black person to tell me that I’m a “white” black person, having a non-black person, a minority gay man tell me sent me over the edge.  I’m going to end now and focus this rage on my memoir because it’s bringing up a lot of memories.  Let me just say this.

There is no one way to be black just as there is no one way to be gay and there is no one way to be Jewish.  Black people come from so many different places, cultures, economic backgrounds, continents that there cannot be just one way to be “black.”  I’m sure that it has to do with people’s ability to put another person into a box.  I will put some blame on the media’s portrayal of blacks in this country.  I will even remind myself that some people are really fucking stupid.

I was flabbergasted that I had to have this conversation with a person of color who is also gay.  I’m dumbfounded that I had to have it in 2011 when our country is being run by a black American man.  It made me think, though.  That, and the fact that I’ll be up all night writing made the fucked up conversation worth while.  Maybe.  Not really.

4 Responses to "“You’re the Whitest Black Person I Know!”"

Well… you’re the the most Jewish Black person I know. And, for the record, I’m the most Mediterranean Irish woman I know. (Thank you, adoption.)

Oh, and what may be considered a stereotypical ‘Jew’ is actually Semitic, so they’re not Caucasian white, either. Excuse me, It’s been a long weekend.

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