A black woman who was raised in a mostly white area says she has always felt like an outsider among black people.
In a editorial for Salon, Danielle Small says she became aware of her outsider status when her hairstylist tried to give her the “black” handshake. According to Small, the handshake was a “black test” that she failed.
“It happened. I failed the ‘black’ test. My hair stylist and I were chatting while she was taking a break from retightening my locs. I made a funny quip, and she extended her palm so that we could partake in the standard Black American handshake,” Small wrote.
“In what was most likely the longest three seconds in the universe, I stared at her hand in befuddlement, trying to figure out what she was doing. By the time I realized that this was the handshake, it was too late. I tried to recover with some weird amalgamation of a fist bump and a high five, but the damage had been done. I had revealed myself to be the Carlton to her Fresh Prince.”
This “existential crisis” led Small to one conclusion: “I’m uncomfortable around black people. This is a peculiar realization being that I am also a black person.”
Small says every time she walks into the barber shop where her stylist works, she feels uncomfortable that she is going to be “found out.”
“In my mind when other black people see me, they’re thinking: ‘She may look black, but she’s not black black, if you know what I mean.'”
Small says she began getting accused of not being black while living in a mostly white area of Wisconsin.
“I know so many white girls that can gangsta walk better than you,” Small says she was told. “You’re not black, you can’t even dance!”
Now, however, Small says she is beginning to realize that there’s no one way to be black.
“It’s taken some time, but now I’m aware that there is no ‘black test’ and that, even though I’m more Carlton than Fresh Prince, my blackness is still valid. My hair stylist doesn’t see me as some racial imposter. “
What do you think of Small’s experience?