What is being black? Is it listening to certain types of music, having specific styles, talking a certain way? Honestly, it’s something that’s fascinated me my whole life because I’ve never been ‘black’ enough and as a result, it’s been a life long struggle to overcome this and to stop trying.
Being Somali brings a unique perspective to it all purely because for the longest time we weren’t even considered black, we were ‘othered’ and considered our own race. I’ve heard annoying phrase enough times: ‘You’re not black, you’re Somali’, to which I would answer ‘What does that even mean?’.
I remember a friend of mine in school liking a Facebook page with that title and I questioned him about it. He was Indian so it was a weird thing to even discuss, especially considering we were close friends. Although I did go to school with mostly South Asians so I was an ‘other’ either way in all of my friendship groups in school.
Our discussion didn’t last long, purely because he didn’t have a leg to stand on. He realised his ignorance, and we continued our friendship without ever discussing it ever again, I doubt he remembers it.
I never really had black or Somali friends as a child, or even a teen because I never really fit in. I couldn’t relate to the discussions about movies, music or anything really, and it was honestly a struggle. I also got told I ‘spoke like a white girl’ a lot because my accent is considered too posh. But being into anime during a time where it wasn’t even normalised in society also added a deeper division.
Maybe I subconsciously created this division myself as well, but I just never gelled with the community. Even in Mosque, I could feel that I was different, and not in a ‘i’m not like other girls’ way, but in a ‘I can’t relate’ way.
One weird experience comes to mind, I was 17 walking in my city centre. I was wearing some weird purple pumps because that was my questionable style and as some black girls walked past me they made a point of saying “I hate it when black girls act like white girls” super loud and looked at me as they were saying it.
It was a weird experience, but I’ve never felt ‘black’ enough, or even ‘Somali’ enough for my own community because I always just did my own thing. Looking back I know now not to give a fuck, but before it did hurt my feelings. I don’t even know what the point of this blog post is, but I am aware it’s an experience shared by many. It’s not the easiest to word, but racial identity is more than just playing up to stereotypes.
We really need to show that black identity is varied, we’re not a monolithic sharing the same interests!