Earlier this year I read a fanfiction and I immediately judged it based of the grammar and what I felt was a stereotypical portrayal of Black people. For some reason the fanfiction wouldn’t leave my mind and I ended up giving it another shot, some days later. I had to question myself as to why I immediately discounted the fanfiction and its writer and the answer hit me.
I was tired of the stereotyped black woman, the one that uses ain’t instead of isn’t or the one that curses and brings true every stereotype America has written about black women. I felt like this author, who was a black woman, was just feeding into it and I was not going to sit there and read her “ghetto” literature.
But why was she and her story ghetto and mine wasn’t? Was it because I didn’t use the n-word, or use improper English? Why was I able to so clearly able to create a divide when literature is simple literature. I have read poems by African-American poets that did not use standard English, but I could empathize with them, understand them, and not judge.
I felt as though this young writer was a representative of all black women writers and she was not doing a good job. It was a stereotypical generalization. Although, I knew better.
However, its a feeling most people feel when a person of their gender talks about their sexapades, or talk loud and use profanity, or blast “ethnic” music, or use improper English.
There is a need to conform to standards in America that was never created with people looked at as “others” in the first place. For a woman to not be a hoe she must be sure to either be a virgin or at least appear to be one. In order for Black people not to be looked at as bad people beyond correction they must adjust their blackness to be accepted.
But the truth is some people despite glaring contradictions will deliberately paint people with one brush in order to sooth their ego or self-esteem.
So before you so easily use sexism to condemn the woman that does not hide the fact that she is a sexual being, understand that you have no right to place yourself above her.
Before you try to separate yourself from the people you deem stereotypes, understand again that you have no right to think yourself superior.
Just like I had no right to immediately devalue that young woman’s work because of my own prejudices. After putting aside my prejudices and reading the fanfiction with a clear eye, I ended up liking a lot more than I thought I would. Although some parts did annoy me, I still was able to see the work for what it was, an amazing form of literature.