Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Flirtation with Phoniness

I am a 36 year old disabled woman who has been variously labeled "fat", "crazy", and "a hippie weirdo." I now try to embrace labels that others use in an attempt to "shame" me into being someone more "acceptable". I am passionate about issues of race/racism, criminal (in)justice, fat acceptance, and mental health advocacy. I blog at My Name Is JuJuBe and I am on the team at The Intersection of Madness and Reality

Remember Buckwild (aka Becky) from Flavor of Love? If so, the first thought that pops into your mind is "phony"! I remember the whole season she was on listening to her try to talk in her stereotypical perceived) "Black girl" fashion, until she got upset and the real Becky came out. And guess what? The REAL Becky sounded like a VALLEY IRL! Surprise, surprise! I HATED Buckwild from day one. She seems like she was perpetrating a fraud big time! I couldn't understand WHY she was acting so damn phony! And, then I spoke to my ex. He told me to think back a few years. He told me to remember what I was like when  first started spending more time with Black people than with White people. And I realized: I WAS Buckwild!

MY flirtation with phoniness did not last all that long. I thought I was SO COOL, using slang, talking with some sort of accent that I imagined REAL Black women spoke with (never mind the fact that my friends were not some monolithic entity who all spoke alike). I thought if I spoke in a phony manner, and called myself a "gangster bitch" somehow I would gain some semblance of acceptance, which is what I had always wanted in life. I really thought it worked. I started hanging out with more Black people. I was invited to parties where I referred to myself as the "token white girl". I thought it was because of my new found persona that I was accepted by my new friends. I never imagined that people were actually amused (and sometimes offended) by my antics. And I REALLY never imagined that I could be accepted by my new friends WITHOUT acting like someone who I am not!
Well, after a while, I met my ex. The first thing he did was tell me that I need to get off the fake shit. He told me that if I talk like a "valley girl" or "the Whitest White chick on earth" (which I do) to accept that and move on. He told me that I could find more TRUE acceptance and friendship by being WHO I AM instead of being WHO I THINK OTHERS WANT ME TO BE! The funny thing is, at first I protested.I swore up and down I was NOT faking anything. (Even though I knew damn well growing up I spoke TOTALLY differently then I was speaking at that time) But, after he specifically requested that I not speak that way in front of his family, I realized that he was right. He was right about me acting fake. And he was right about people liking and accepting me more for being myself.

I became very close with his family. I KNOW that if I had continued my phony ways, they would have NEVER accepted me. I WOULD NOT have been invited to their parties. They WOULD NOT have asked me to go to the clubs with them (I never actually went, but I was invited)I would have never been offered the opportunity to live with his brother and his brother's girlfriend. They would have looked at me as some White clown who was "trying to be down"... which was what I HAD been!

After that, I learned my lesson. Now, I do get a lot of flack from my friends about how I talk.... they call me a valley girl or "snowflake"... but they tease me with love. They know I am an honest, real person. And the fact that I DO sometimes use slang (said in a valley girl accent) is more organic now, when it used to be manufactured. I decided to write this post last night after a conversation with a relatively new friend (who I discuss politics with). He had texted me a few weeks ago asking what kind of music I like. And he typed "Tell me the truth, don't give me an answer that you think I want to hear" That made me think about the fact that for years, once I started listening to rap music and R&B, I TOTALLY denied my love for "Freedom Rock" (remember that cassette set they used to sell on TV of "classic rock"?) I thought that I could not enjoy different genres of music, that I had to make a choice. When I answered his text, for the first time in years, I admitted the truth. I told him "I love 90s rap music (especially Biggie), 60s and 70s rock, and show tunes" He laughed about the show tunes... but when I spoke to him yesterday about how hard it was for me to admit that I was still into genres of music OTHER THAN rap/R&B/reggae we got into a discussion about white chicks who feel the need to act phony to gain acceptance from Black people (especially men). It felt liberating to admit the truth. I felt that by being myself, I was being a lot more "conscious" than I had been all of my life. And that is a good thing!