It's dangerous to generalize any one group of people, but labeling someone as an exception to their race because they are well-spoken, articulate and poised is particularly offensive.
So when poet Ernestine Johnson was told she wasn't like "the average black girl" because she sounds "white," she wasn't going to take it lying down.
Watch her perform a spoken word piece entitled "The Average Black Girl" on "The Arsenio Hall Show." The poem puts the question of whether there actually is an "average black girl" to rest.
"You know, I remember my ex's mother telling me, 'I didn't know how I was going to react when he brought home a black girl, but I like you because you talk so white.' Well, when did me talking right equate to me talking white?" asks Johnson in her poem.
Her powerful words point out the range of identities that exist within the black community. But when this range is reduced to a stereotype with a singular skin color, hair style and inflection, everyone loses.
"See, the average black girl that I know, the average black girl that I know were Egyptian queens like Hatshepsut and Nitocris who were ruling dynasties and whole armies of men. Excuse me while I set fire to this poem on my pen because I am tired. Tired of the stereotypes black girls have fallen into because of American mentality."
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