Assimilation is a “dirty word” because the term is conflicted, Danielle C. Belton writes at Clutch magazine, especially now, when race and racism have been pushed to the fore as topics of discussion in America.
Assimilate is a dirty word for me because in reference to black people surviving in America it’s both necessary and completely worthless all at the same time. Necessary as in, having the name Danielle Belton could mean my resume didn’t immediately go into the garbage when they were screening out all the Keishas that day, but futile because I started a site called “blacksnob.com” and it’s on my resume along with me being a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. Never mind all the black publications I’ve written and worked for. So everything about my resume screams BLACK LADY even if my parents tried to turn me into some racial Terminator, stealthy moving about society, showing up at job interviews all “SURPRISE BLA[C]K GIRL!”
You can name me Danielle, but you can still see I’m black.
And I can straighten my hair for the job interview so I can seem more “approachable” or whatever straight hair is supposed to mean, but you can still see I’m black.
And I can speak the King’s English, dress posh and throw my college degree and upper middle class background around and … that’s nice and all, but you can still see I’m black.
Assimilation is the greatest and most important waste of time any black person will ever engage in. Because it essentially means spending your life anticipating someone else’s prejudices, then trying to modify your behavior to prove you’re a special, different, extraordinary Negro, not to be confused with Lil Wayne or the guy on the evening news who rammed a car in to a hair weave store and ran off with $10,000 worth of Indian Remy.
Read Danielle C. Belton‘s entire piece at Clutch magazine.
The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.