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personality, preference, and race

Typical doesn’t usually apply to me.  In fact, I’m not sure if it ever does.  But my humanity is not any less accessible than anyone else’s – I love to laugh, spend time with people I love, be entertained, play games and generally have a good time.

But the things/activities that I enjoy – are they specific to a certain group?

I don’t belong to just one racial group, but it seems obvious that certain pieces of entertainment are geared to one or another, often exclusively [but without overt malice].

Take, for instance, the allusion to differences between ‘Living Single’ and ‘Friends’, in the comments here.

I loved Living Single.  I loved Friends.  I loved lots of shows.  [I really like tv]

I spent most of my young life not thinking about deep racial issues.  I completely bought into the ‘white = default (read: normal)’ idea without even being aware of it.  I was aware of some cultural differences…I spent time with people of different racial backgrounds, but I got the general idea that people were either ‘white’ or ‘black’.  Anyone with skin light enough to be white, was.  Everyone else was black.  That was certainly the way things seemed to be.  And even now, that still seems to ring true, though it’s a tad bit stickier with many more Latin people in America [fitting into both and/or neither category].

So, I wasn’t thinking about how I only saw black people on ‘90210’ when they were in a gang or being bussed to West Beverly to get out of their impoverished school. [Classic white savior/token black person episode]  I never thought about the lack of diversity on ‘Friends’ until I saw a black comedienne refer to it as ‘We-Don’t-Have-Any-Black-Friends’.

And I do like the diversity that has lept into most tv shows.  I notice it more frequently, and I appreciate it.  But I tend to identify with characters based more on personality than anything else.  That’s including race and gender.

Perhaps because of the way I grew up, always knowing that I was different, I never expected to see someone like me on a tv show or in a movie.  When Mariah appeared on the scene, I had an ally in the music business, though she and I look nothing alike, and my range is …slightly less than 5 octaves.

So, when I started thinking about things more deeply, in terms of race and gender and sensitivity, I found that my preferences and affinities didn’t change.  When I realized that there hadn’t been any black people on ‘Friends’, I didn’t stop watching.  I didn’t watch one or two of the seasons cuz it got a lil slow toward the end.

But I remember being around some semi-friends, while I was growing up, and feeling that I wasn’t ‘black-enough’ because I watched certain shows, listened to certain music.  I think this helped spark my ‘all R&B – all the time’ period, which lasted from ~’91 to at least ’97.  I wouldn’t share my interest in some of the music that my sister unashamedly listened to – the great one-hit 90s bands like Gin Blossoms, Blind Melon, STP, etc.  [the nostalgia from one of these is incredible, nonetheless]

I didn’t have anything to prove with white people, because I was generally accepted as the ‘present company excluded’/’I don’t think of you as black’ friend.  And that was weird to me, but I didn’t know how to respond.  It felt like acceptance, I thought.

I spent a lot of time trying to fit in to some group.  I was most comfortable away at school, in a dorm with other girls who seemed to have a better grip on understanding me.  After that, I struggled, until I kinda fell into the International [Students’] Club, my 2nd to last year in school.  Being completely and utterly American, I still don’t know how I ended up being a member [and eventually an officer] of the ISC but, there you go.  It was probably the most fun time of my college career.  I was learning to be myself, regardless of the expectations.

As time marched on, I continued to look for a niche to fill.  And I was accepting myself as being both black and white in a way I hadn’t before.  Trying to prove my blackness was becoming less of an issue.  But the pressure was still there.  I began to assert that, though some of my black friends might never have met someone like me, that didn’t make me white [even though I am], it just made me different.

In the meantime, I began to meet people who somehow thought that I would understand/approve of them having some kind of specific ‘type’, when it came to their romantic interests.  A black girlfriend of mine decided she was into white boys [exclusively].  A black guy friend went the same way.  Another guy friend [korean/white] talked about how he was into only blonds.  I spoke to them all about it.  And the answer I invariably got: it’s a preference.  It’s not a race thing.

It doesn’t sound any better to me today – and this is years later.

Race is a crazy construct, but the assumptions and excuses and conclusions that come with folks with ‘preferences’ just turn the whole thing into a ball of confusion for me.

The complexity of it all and the lateness of the hour causes me to question the coherence of this blog.  I guess my point was just that while people can appreciate this or that piece of media regardless of its loose connection to reality, it doesn’t [to me] hold the same import as, say, the specific [romantic] preference toward the opposite/same sex [hair/eye/skin color & texture].

passing out now.


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