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My shortcomings are not due to the color of my skin

Levels of melanin should not be used for justification

Alexis Machoka

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Once when I was in middle school, a girl said to me after I had just read aloud, ‘I didn’t think you were going to be able to read that well, because black people don’t usually read that well.’ I kept my composure.

Every time I don’t succeed in doing something I am reminded of this exact moment, the pride and defeat I felt. The pride coming from overcoming the stereotype that black people couldn’t read and the defeat coming from the fact that it was 2013 and people still thought these stereotypes about African Americans.

When I fail, I assume the people around me think it’s because I’m black. As a result of her blackness she didn’t score as high on the test, since she’s black her essay wasn’t as well versed. Due to my blackness, I have fought my whole life to avoid any kind of failure because I didn’t want those around me to have an excuse to further ridicule black people. I didn’t want  people to be able to say “black people are lazy” or “black people are uneducated.”  I wanted to prove the stereotypes wrong.

I’ve realized  that I don’t want to spend my entire life trying to prove people wrong and I shouldn’t need to. The capabilities of black people should never be questioned. I hope one day people won’t base their expectations of people on the color of their skin. I want to live as me, not as a person trying to fight the stereotypes.I forget things, I fail and I mess up just like everyone else—not because I’m black but because I’m human. I succeed because I want to succeed, not because I’m trying to prove a point.

When I fail it is not because I’m black. It is because I, a human being, made a mistake.

I’ve made it my mission to score as high as possible, be as literate as possible and be as put together as possible. I made it my mission to assimilate to white culture and not be a stereotypical black person. I avoided certain hairstyles, words, clothing and people. My avoidance of black culture led me to be lost, and now I am here stuck between black and white.

I myself have tried so hard to stray from the thought that because I’m black there were certain preset outcomes for me. Yet, I still find myself justifying my misfortunes with the color of my skin. People don’t like me because I’m black, they didn’t vote for me because I’m black, the stranger in the street didn’t smile back at me because I’m black. Sometimes I even blame the good things that have come to me on my being black, such as the fact that people feel the need to include me in this group because I’m black, people are being extra nice to me because I’m black, or people wanting me in a photo  just because I’m black.

I have finally come to the conclusion that no matter if I win or if I lose, if I succeed or if I do not, my success is based on me and the decisions I make, nothing more.

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The student news site of St. Louis Park High School
My shortcomings are not due to the color of my skin