The Uppity Negro

Ever since I was young, I’ve always had labels thrown my way that didn’t necessarily fit. I’ve been called ghetto(that only fits when I’m angry), uppity, artistic (that one fits,) a geek( that I am), and other titles surrounding the words uppity, boogie, and white washed in my cultural interests. I’m not one to constrict my desires and ambitions to a specific label, yet some deem it necessary to place me in a category.

They can’t quite figure out my personality and my wide range of interests, so they tend to stick me in the white washed uppity negro category. Of course, most of the people that place me in this category tend to be limited to one type of music, one type of clothing style, and a very limited perception of the world. I grew up moving back and forth the country, being exposed to different cultures, lifestyles, and collective movements of thought.

I didn’t grow up in the hood, which is a strike against my level of blackness apparently. I can’t really be fully black because I grew up between Maryland and Colorado, going to predominately white and spanish schools. I’ve spent some time in predominately black neighborhoods in the inner city, but I was visiting and not actually living there. Anyone who really knows me (which is only a select few), know that I come from an artistic and cultural diverse background. My dad went to Georgetown Prep and Princeton University, in which he was exposed to the ivy league elements of life, sort of like Carlton Banks (yet my dad doesn’t like to dance).

My dad is a connoisseur of literature, scientific knowledge, and political/social issues that plague the world. Growing up with a dad that is an intellect and being around him (this is my last year at home), it’s no surprise that I have such a dedication to education, knowledge, and achieving success. It’s not just my dad that is well educated and passionate on an intellectual level, my mom is a walking library of art history and black history. It amazes me at how many subjects she is knowledgeable on by her own studies and not because a professor made her study a certain subject. I grew up with parents that always inspired me to seek knowledge and success on my own terms, not waiting for someone to tell me what to learn and how to be successful.

At the age of 20 years old I’ve already been published in a national magazine, graduated early from high school, networked with some influential members of the Black Community, and I’m about to receive my degree in English in Spring 2012. I have plans on writing full time in the field of technical writing or business writing, while saving up money to start an arts center. I have even more goals that are still maneuvering their way throughout my mental framework, but apparently all my ideas and aspirations deem me the label “uppity” and “one of those blacks.”

I shouldn’t have to apologize because Boyz N’ The Hood and Scarface aren’t my favorite movies. I shouldn’t have to keep apologizing for my love of house music, classic rock, dance/electronica, and my passion for Turner Classic Movies. I don’t talk with a white washed dialect, yet apparently my tone of speech isn’t “black enough.” I’m so sick of men who barely have any ambition attempting to make me feel like crap because I’m doing something with my life and have goals. I have so many men always tell me that I’m doing too much with my life or I’m going to be one of those uppity successful blacks. Just because I have a passion for the arts and being successful, it doesn’t mean I’m an uppity negro that turns their back on the Black community. Sometimes the Black community turns their back on me, because I guess I’m never going to be “black enough.”

I should be able to be myself and my success should stand for itself. If a man doesn’t want to be with me because I’m successful, educated, artistic, and have ambitions to live a nice lifestyle, then he can just walk away. I’m not going to sit here and waste time with a guy that may have the nice car, but is lacking in so many other personality departments. I’m sick of the verbal bullying I face from Black men and Black women that come from a different lifestyle than me, but see it fit to treat me like crap.

One thing my parents taught me in life, is that life is too short for people not to be able to have the privilege and beauty to be themselves. It is the beautiful combination of all our unique experiences that makes us who we are. It’s a such a shame that their is still this annoying division within the black community that is constantly tearing people down, especially when people like myself do have a passion for all different lifestyles and I make it a mission to write about them. It’s such a frustrating scenario and it really is a big issue when it comes to my interactions with Black men. I’m not going to change who I am and apologize for my cultural interests, I’d rather continue to be single and wait for the day when an actual man comes my way; a man that understands what it means to be culturally diverse. The real sad part is I know so much of my Black history and I could literally drop some mind blowing knowledge, but it’s not even worth arguing with an ignorant vessel. So for now, I might as well go ahead and be that “uppity negro” that people percieve me to be, at least I can get a job with white folks…LOL…..

©Jasmine McGee


6 thoughts on “The Uppity Negro

  1. I relate to this in a lot of ways. Everytime i meet new people the first things they ask me is “what are you mixed with?” (nothing) “and do you know you talk like a white person?”
    This doesn’t particularly bother me because i know they really mean i sound a wee bit more intelligent then other people they may hang out with. My parents instilled in me from a young age that no one if going to hand anything to me, that I must work hard for everything i want.
    Anyways, it was refreshing to read something from someone else who is older(than me) and is living the same thing. Thanks, and i hope to have just as much sucess at your age.

    1. I’m glad you found this post refreshing and you’re able to relate to the situation. It’s a sad reality that so many people have these close minded perceptions of what is and isn’t considered “black.” It’s great that your parents instilled that drive for success into your character, remember to keep pushing for your dreams and anything is possible. Keep believing in your dreams and block out all the haters! I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors and continue to let your voice shine!



  2. The ability for someone else to categorize us as uppity-negro is nothing short of their unwillingness to stop relying on their narrow perception that says, well we know what they will do when they finishing getting educated, which is to leave the black community and act as if they are not apart of the community to fit into the social game needed to be successful. Rather then celebrate that we utilize our intellect to not only better ourselves, but others around me, not to seem as a know it all, but to get others around to stop being bashful, and utilizes their gifts to not only impact the community, but the world.

    The issue with the black community is we have always chosen a side, between the Brooker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bios argument of self-sufficiency vs. talent tenth instead of utilizing both to strengthen the community and the nation.

    1. Great and insightful commentary.
      It’s a sad reality that there is such division within the black community, yet if we continue to prove ourselves wrong and be a spokesperson for positivity, eventually perceptions will change (or at least be open to different meanings of “black”.)

      1. that time will come as it did for Washington and Du Bios, because if not, we will continue to be our worse enemy as we are today. We can’t afford to continue destroying ourselves, simply, because of misconception.

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