A Toast To The Alternative Black Kids and The Families Who Just Don't Understand

I have a memory from my teen years that I've held onto for almost a decade. I was in the passenger seat of my mom's 2-door car in a CVS parking lot and one of my twin brothers was in the rear. The whole drive over I was listening to my iPod shuffle so that I didn't have to listen to the mainstream radio hip hop that my family absolutely loves. I can't remember what I was listening to but it was probably something by Saosin, Chiodos or Dance Gavin Dance.

When my mom turned the car off, she could hear my music blaring through my headphones, as was needed to drown out their music. I quickly turned it down. "What are you listening to? Devil worship music?" Yes, mother of my teenage years. Because you know, all music that isn't Gospel or Hip hop is devil worship music. Now, excuse me while I go host a seance.

I got a stern talking to from my mother and got teased a lot from my brother all because I wanted to listen to my own music. My response: "You aren't going to force me to listen to music that calls me out of my name and that says the same thing over and over".

If you would have asked me about two years earlier, I would have lied and said that my friend accidentally added it to my playlist.

It's hard being a Black kid in itself, so imagine being a Black kid that can't help but appreciate what most Black families call "White People Music". I remember when I first discovered that I liked this so called "White People Music". I accidentally turned to an alternative rock radio station one day in my room and didn't want to turn it off until my foster aunt busted into my room looking for something. I was ashamed to listen to the music I liked because I was tired of people challenging my "blackness". I already have light skin and people have always told me that I "talk white" so in my mind, a fake desire to listen to hip hop was the only thing that allowed me to keep my "black card".
After years of hiding who we are, all alternative Black kids reach a phase in our lives called "F*** it" and start living according to this mantra. 

If I want to bleach my hair, I'm going to bleach it, maybe shave some of it off and add some color to it. F*** it. If I want to listen to alternative music, I'm going to blare it in my room, in my car AND go to Warp Tour. F*** it. Oh you think two holes in your ear is nice? Well, I prefer a few holes, maybe some gauges and an industrial bar. F*** it. F*** it very, very much.

So imagine the utter shock and trauma Black families go through when their alternative Black kid reaches the F*** It Phase. All that they can picture is the embarrassment that they can expect at the next family get-together. Obviously, they're not raising their children right if they don't look like every other Black kid at the family reunion. Therefore, our parents tried to make us hide ourselves in an attempt to save face.

Yeah, it sucks but unfortunately you can't really blame just them.

Society has told Black America that we don't hike, we don't go vegan, we don't talk like we are educated, we don't dye our hair the beautiful pastel colors of the rainbow, and we don't listen to "White People Music" (notice that I keep putting that in quotations). There are some Black people and lots of people of other ethnicities that take this to heart and therefore ridicule anything that strays away from this stereotype. Other Black people, especially alternative Black kids, learn that this stereotype is a lot bull and take their stand on what they know to be true.
Luckily, a lot of us alternative Black kids are able to sway our family in some ways eventually. Every now and again, my mom will ask me about a song that I'm listening to and say that she likes it, or will at least try to understand why I like it. My mom freaked out when I got my industrial bar in college, but she later accepted it (lucky for her it never healed right...she must have been praying). Family get-togethers can still be awkward but once people realize how comfortable I am with myself, they become intrigued instead of worried. There are still some family members who will never accept how I am, but it doesn't even worry me anymore.

So to all of the alternative Black kids and adults out there, cheers...and make sure to pour some out for the family members who just don't understand.

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Quirky, Brown Love is a media outlet for quirky, brown millennials. EST 2014.

Email Bryanda Law, Editor-in-Chief
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