My favorite Earl Sweatshirt lyrics has to be from his 2012 hit, Chum, “Too black for the white kids and too white for the blacks/ from honor roll to cracking locks up off them bicycle racks/I’m indecisive, I’m scatterbrained and I’m frightened it’s evident…” It’s something about hearing a line that sums up your entire life in a song lyric from one of your favorite MCs that just hits different. And while I’m sure this line has much more to do with him being biracial, I finally had a way to articulate my life long struggle.
My parents were married and lived together. My mother was the original SAHM who juggled being a team mom for my younger brother and ensuring I was signed up for all the academic extracurriculars. But we also cleaned up and listened to 70-90s R&B. My dad instilled in us the lessons of Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, and in a lot of ways very anti-capitalist pro-Black ideals. The funny thing is though–my parents were* hood. Like they may or may not have engaged in criminal activity and have extreme respect in certain areas of the city, hood. My family always lived in the more “affluent” areas. Yet, I always went to predominately Black and Hispanic schools. I’m realizing now as an adult we may have contributed to gentrification, but is it gentrification if Black people do it?
But the irony is that, I often got made fun of. No matter who my parents were and what clout they held. I got picked on by my Black peers for being smart, engaging in academia, coming from a two parent household. And perhaps it was warranted. There was a running joke with my extended family that it was likely that somewhere in Dallas there was an extremely “ghetto” girl with a fancy Black family. But I often found myself aligning with my white peers because they weren’t as judgmental. They didn’t think I “talked funny” and my code switching was reverse and performative–like how can I show my Black peers I’m Black enough to engage in this. In my late teens and early adult years, I felt like a shapeshifter because my friend groups were often divided into two groups: white/eccentric Black and hood Black.
This could be the reason why my favorite rapper is Kanye West and why I considered myself a “Gambino Girl forever” and identify as a BLERD. A backpacker is the definition of the guys I found myself romantically attracted to. For example, my husband is what would happen if Tyler the Creator, Childish Gambino, and Neil deGrasse Tyson had a baby. Childish Gambino’s line in This Way Up, “Got them white boy clothes and that black dude dick, uh/Now I understand why you gotta hate a nigga” reminds me of Black guys telling me that I’m the closest they would get to dating white women without having to date a white girl.
I found myself always having to defend my Blackness.
Hopsin is the evidence that the alternative lifestyle is often ridiculed by the overall black populous. It’s the reason it took Tyler the Creator’s career more than a decade to take off. Why Kid Cudi has a small but devoted fan base. Why Joey Bada$$ is severely slept on. Kendrick Lamar and so many others. It also challenges the thought of what stereotypes other races may have of blacks. In proving that there is a multidimensionality of Blackness. It’s a double edged sword.
Uniqueness in our racial identity though overall shows that we are not outsiders but trailblazers breaking off and making more dynamic personality traits to define what it means to be black That we as the weirdo Black people control the reigns of our future and we won’t be defined or placed into boxes.