Growing Up As The Token Black Girl

Photo Credit: http://www.coin-realm.com

The app Time Hop has a way of reminding me of my crazy misspent youth, my hormonal pregnancy, and my sexual awakening during college. The other day, it reminded me that not too long ago, I was that teenage black girl that was considered by her white friends to be just black enough to tolerate therefore making her intolerably not black enough for everyone else.

For most of my upbringing, other black girls my age would despise me as soon as I walked into a room. Before I said a word, blinked an eye, or gave them a single reason. Yeah, I am loud, come off as a know it all (because I do know it all, duh!), and can probably seem like an obnoxious bitch with a semi permanent frown. But, when I am comfortable I can truly be a social butterfly and get along with virtually anyone.

v i r t u a l l y.

Facebook Post

Actual Facebook Post circa 2007

In high school, the white kids gravitated towards me like fireflies in the dark. I was that sassy black chick that told it how it was but clearly wasn’t accepted by the other black girls so I was like their token treasure. They flaunted me around like a prize peacock. I was their proof that they could not be racist, they could not be insensitive; after all their black bestie told them it was OK. They also had a serious lack of an understanding of what all went into being the token. I was constantly reminded that I was the only black person at the party, always felt like the ugly duckling because none of the white guys around wanted to date me, I was practically pushed onto the token black guy that was NEVER attractive, and the insensitivity was deafening.

Needless to say, once I hit college, I up’d my black friend count from 10% to 95% and now I look back on what I allowed back then (thanks again Time Hop) and just shake my head. I can tell you this, my son will never be the token–ever.

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8 thoughts on “Growing Up As The Token Black Girl

  1. I know we drifted apart during college. But I find it so offensive that this is what you’ve simplified our friendship to. You were never a ‘token treasure’, and the color of your skin never mattered. You were one of my closest friends and I look back at those memories so fondly. It’s just sad that you believe this was what it was all about.

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    1. This is true but it is not a matter of simplifying our (or any) friendship. The fact is that looking back on that time, I could slap myself for what I allowed to be said to me. I did in fact feel like the white kids accepted me more but that left me being the token because I was one of the only ones. It is unfortunate that you are offended since that was definitely far from my intention but I can’t sugar coat how I felt about a time in my life. I never thought or think you or anyone intentionally sought out my friendship because I was black but comments like the above pictured one and many many many more and the lack of mutual understanding made me feel like an isolated token. I also never said that anything was ever done or said with ill intent.

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  2. “You’re a false advertisement” of what it is to be Black? Did that mean you are too intelligent and such an eloquent speaker that you’re far removed from what it is to be a “real” black person? Take a walk in her shoes. Then, tell us your thoughts. When you’re the token, everything is always black and white. And, that’s not friendship.

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    1. I think that is what a lot of white people in these types of situations miss. It is all about their feelings and their intentions like I never tried to make you feel like the token. But that is what it was until I learned how to never put myself in those types of situations. There is no way anyone can read that comment and say that is not hurtful, insensitive and extremely narrow minded as well as ignorant with a good dose of racism. With that being said, the person that wrote this years ago actually read this post and messaged me privately to apologize and take accountability for his actions which showed that this person has matured quite a bit since high school.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. i can totally relate to this. i am in “mid-life” now and still struggle with the scarring from my teen years when i was judged for the shade of my skin and the fact that people assumed that my white stepfather was my biological father. i wasn’t ashamed of having a white parent, but i felt like this false impression forced me to have to prove my blackness.

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    1. (oops! i hit send before i finished what i was saying…)

      having failed to impress/satisfy the black girls in my school, i became the sassy-mouthy-quick-witted black girl in a clique that i never felt 100% comfortable in. they said my skin color didn’t matter, but i never really believed it.

      thanks for this sharp and astute perspective!

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      1. Yes! That was me to a T! I always rubbed the black girls wrong but the white girls loved that I satisfied the black girl standards without being “too black” for them. I was all the fun stuff like sassy, loud, charismatic but I hid the other more relateable things that only other black women would understand. As an adult, I can look back at this and be grateful that I experienced this and that I will never put myself there again. I don’t think the white girls I hung with consciously chose my friendship BECAUSE I was black. But I think that, for them, I was an exception to the negative stereotypes that prevented them from having 20 black girlfriends.

        Thanks for reading!

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