I have been accused on several occasions of not acting like, talking like, or thinking like a “typical” Black person. Sad, but true, even some of my family members have questioned whether I am really Black. Well, when I was born I was Black, and when I looked in the mirror this morning I saw that I am still Black. So I guess. . . . I am Black.
I have received such comments as: “You don’t talk like a “typical” Black”, “The things that you write are not words that a “typical” Black man would write,” “You are just riding on the coattails of the White man, trying to be something that you aren’t,” “Your ancestors must be rolling over in their graves to know that you say and believe the things that you do,” “Are you really sure that you are Black?” “Are you really sure that you are a member of the Brown family?”
I could probably go on, but it only increases the feelings of nausea that I have as I shudder to think that even in 2014 there are those who wish to keep me a prisoner inside a proverbial box, never to break free to experience life and to be the person that God has called me to be. It truly saddens me that there are those who have never, or who chose to never, rise above their circumstances, and as a result they are determined to keep everyone else at their level.
But, the good news is, I am mature enough to rise above such ignorant and insane comments. First of all, I am who I am by the grace of Almighty God, and be it known that I am not about to change for anyone to be classified as being “typical.”
To be honest, I do not rightfully understand what a person means when they classify a person or a group of people as being “typical.” And so, inquiring minds beg an answer to an important question, “What is your definition of “typical”?” My humble apologies, although no apology is really needed, nor in some cases would suffice, but my beloved parents, the late John Wallace Brown and the late Frances Mae Harmon Brown did not raise what some in society refer to as “typical” children. And for that I am ETERNALLY GRATEFUL.
Along those same lines, I have often been accused of thinking that I am better than anyone else, or that I think I know everything and I must think that I am more intelligent than everyone else. Again, sorry to burst any delusional bubbles, but I do not think that I know everything or that I am more intelligent than everyone else, however, I do hold that God has blessed me with a certain level of intelligence, and I use that level of intelligence, along with wisdom and discernment in helping to make wise and correct decisions in life. The things that I say in public, or the things that I share in my writings are not to try to “lord” it over anyone, or to boast of any intelligence, but I share things that 55 years of life experiences have taught me. People are free to either accept or reject anything that I say or write. That is their choice. They have their free agency. It really doesn’t matter one way or another to me.
With that being said, I do not think that I am better than anyone else either. I do my utmost best to never judge anyone because I realize that “But for the grace of God, so go I.” I am not perfect, nor have I ever made any bold or brash statements to that effect. To do so would show my level of ignorance. I do not think that I am better than anyone else, but I do claim that I made the conscious decision many years ago to rise above life’s mediocrities and went out into the world and became determined to make the life that God has given me count for something. If leaving my hometown, joining the military and dedicating 20 years of my life to faithfully serving the country that I love, attending college and earning college degrees to include 2 Master Degrees, meeting people of great influence, and even being a guest in the homes of some influential people, sets me apart as thinking that I am better than anyone else in the eyes of some people, then so be it. You are certainly entitled to your opinions, although I do not agree with your judgmental assessment.
Finally, there are those who do not believe that I am a “typical” Black person because of my views on racism. To them I say that it saddens me, nay even sickens me, that there are those who live with the mentality that one race is superior to another and incessantly pit one race against another. The reason that segregation is so prevalent in our world today is because of the wrong attitudes and mentality of some people. As long as a person treats me with dignity and respect, and as a person of worth, I don’t care what their skin color is. They could be green with purple stripes for all I care. By the same token, even if a person chooses to mistreat me, I still choose to love them regardless of their skin color. The same applies to a person’s lifestyle. They have their free agency. Their choice is their choice. I refuse to hate any man, for any reason, for hatred only begets more hatred. We are all God’s children, and the very least that I can do is to love ALL of my brothers and sisters.
If any of things declassify me as being a “typical” Black, then I am satisfied and content with going through life being an atypical Black. Thank you very much. You will find that I have no hard feelings about this matter.
“What, pray tell, is typical? [Is it] that gibberish you hear in the streets? [Or is it] 4 letter words and angry Rap? Any uneducated dolt can be typical in his own warped mind. You my friend are intelligent. You write intelligent, you talk and think intelligent. That perhaps is atypical. If so, I say let’s be ATYPICAL together. – John L. Deland
“Hi Keith, today my friends and I were just having the same discussion…..why do some Black people, not rejoice in helping another Brother or Sister up? We are ALL unique. Shouldn’t we all be helping each other to shine, instead of remaining “dull”? You keep shining! It’s refreshing! Thanks.” – Shirley Grant Allen
“First of all my question is what is a typical Black person? To me that doesn’t sound good and go over too well with me because it sounds racist and I don’t like when people say you’re the typical so and so ,because that is putting everyone in the same class and not everyone is the same because of their race, religious beliefs, gender, or sexuality….. I would like to know what a typical such and such is…… That’s stereotyping and not looking at the person as they actually are….” – Karlyn Stebbins
“Insofar as your “typicality” you are not a typical anything! You are very special – a tribute to human achievement – and a great joy to thinking people. Keep up the good work!!” – David Fell
“Hi Keith, very well and intelligently written. I understand your frustrations. I’ve also had to deal with those same “comments” most of my life as well. I try not to argue with people who are fixated on how a person should act or what they should do or what they should be. It has been my experience that for the most part their minds are closed to any other viewpoint. It is sad that people who are well read, speak intelligently and are thoughtful in how they present themselves are too often put down. While those that broadcast ignorance, mistrust and anger are celebrated. Several weeks back Bill Cosby had a Facebook posting that you might enjoy reading. The theme was something I think you can relate to. Hang in there. Keep to your faith and remember you are not alone in this world. Be well and take care.” – Kenneth (Ken) Lee Brown (my brother)
“I can also relate to what both of you are saying. I have been accused of acting like a white girl to the point where I actually asked a white female friend of mine, ” How do white girls act?” She just laughed because she really couldn’t tell me. I guess we are just a family of “upity niggras” who think we are better than everyone else!! Even a cousin of ours (on Dad’s side, of course) threatened to disown me because I told her I don’t like hip-hop music. I was singing “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and she wanted to know what was wrong with me. Oh well. I don’t care. As long as I know who I am and whose I am, that’s all that matters to me. – Patricia (Pat) Brown (my sister)