Thanksgiving was always both my favorite and least favorite holiday. It was my favorite for the obvious reason: the best cooks in the family always threw down. At the same time, I always dreaded the quiet times between bites or after dinner that my extended family would use to play the dozens .
I’ve never enjoyed playing the dozens both because I’m not good at coming up with “clapbacks” and because I am such an easy target as the so-called eclectic one in the family. Most of my family lives in what out-of-towners would call “the country” or in the urban south, while I’ve lived a good portion of my life in somebody’s suburb. My first best friend was a white girl named Amy and we would always run home after school to sneak and watch Dawson’s Creek in her room. I’ve also enjoyed academia ever since I was younger and would actually read the “Hooked-on-Phonics” books in my spare time for pleasure as a child. As a result, I’ve always valued speaking intelligently, having clear diction and communicating like I have some sense.
Apparently, this means that I talk like a white girl.
Fast forward a few years and I’m finding my way as a strong willed individual. I realize that in addition to the hip hop that I’ve grown up on, I also like alternative rock. Attending Warped Tour became a summer tradition and stocking up on band t-shirts and lace gloves from Hop Topic was a way of life. My iPod nano was my best friends on bus rides to and from school or on car rides to family functions. I was finally becoming comfortable with myself, I thought until I was greeted by the judgmental eyes and smug remarks of my extended family every year.
“Bryanda, what the hell are you listening to? Oh yeah, I forgot you be listening to that white people music. Why you be listening to that devil worshiping music? What is crowdsurfing? You be jumping in the crowd when you go to concerts? Oh, you tryna get yo’ self killed. Why you talk like that? You been hanging around them white folks too long. So, you wanna be white? I bet you got nothing but white friends. You be dating them white boys, don’t you? You can’t be doing everything them white people be doing. What you got against being Black? You a white girl.”
Thanksgiving went from being my favorite holiday to becoming a source of anxiety as I knew that nothing that I could say would stop them from calling me the white girl in the family. In the general sense, there’s nothing wrong with being a white girl…unless, of course, you are not a white girl.
As I’ve grown older and have laid some groundwork when it comes to setting standards of how people address me, my family has come to respect and accept me for the way that I am. This, however, only came from me having confidence in my personality and challenging judgmental statements that came my way. Every now and again, people will slip up and call me the “white girl” and they are always greeted with an intelligent conversation on how their comments are actually an insult to themselves.
So let’s hear it. Were you ever called the “white kid” in your family?