My Uber Driver Told Me I Was A Different Kind Of Black Person

My grandmother always told me about the internal division that exist between the people of the African Diaspora. She told me that “one day you will have to have a conversation with a Brotha or a Sista who will think they are better than you because they will appear to have a stronger connection than you to their African roots”. To her this was the  main factor why we as Black folks would never receive reparations in her lifetime or  true justice in the fight of social progression. When I was 10, I remember her having a conversation with me about it. I am now 22 and just now am starting to put those pieces together.

He told me that I sounded “more of British Black than I did American”.

I was soft spoken to him more or less I was not “loud” like my other Brothas and Sistas.

He said “you know how our brothas and sistas can be, eh. The environment they grow up in is very loud, especially for people your kind”.

I knew this Uber ride was going to be terrible from the moment I got in. I knew as soon as he started talking about how he as a Black man loved the police it was going to go south! As soon has he started talking about how much “our people” should respect the police I knew my Black ass was going to have to get REAL and read him to filth. This is not how I wanted to start my Tuesday morning.

I had to ride Uber all week because my bus pass stopped working (please don’t ask). I already knew from that moment I would be irritated spending my much needed funds on a damn Uber day after day. But, this past Tuesday I got up and did it again. The ride begin like any other Uber drive. I got in, wished a good morning to the driver and confirmed my designated address.

He noticed that I was off to work in a government building from there he wanted to compliment my “intelligence”.

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“Uh, thanks” was my response.

In the back of my head I kept saying I. DON’T. HAVE. TIME. FOR. THE BULLSH*T. NOW. I REALLY. DON’T. But, what did the universe do? The universe made me have time as I was trapped in a damn Uber car I already paid for.

The moment he kept emphasizing how I sounded so intelligent and asked what am I studying? What was my past degree in? I knew what was about to happen.

I knew I had to gear up my boots to decide if today was the day I was going to exert energy on educating another Brotha on how to decolonize his damn mind.

During my time riding with him he wanted to emphasize that I seemed to be “a different” Black from my other brothas and sista and that he as an African man was able to tell the difference. This is because where he’s from more than 50% of our brothas and sistas were loud”, he knew from his “research”. "Spanish this...Blacks that etc”. (In my mind I kept saying but, Spanish is being used inaccurately here Sir...)

I knew he was a wrong. That’s because he was talking to a woman who not only studies Blackness but, the thoughts on ethnic and racial identities that exist internally from people with the African Diaspora.  And he, my Uber driver was discriminating against his own kind. I’m careful not to use the words racist because, I don’t believe Black people can be racist. Racism is a power tool deriving from White Supremacy in which Blacks as history tells us, politically, economically, socially (any aspects of racism and White Surpremacy you name) cannot benefit from such systems.

After asking my Uber driver to fact check his statements, from perspective his thoughts weren’t said in a “negative” nor demeaning way. They were just “observations”.

I decided to ask him where were these numbers coming from?  I didn’t understand the scholarly research backing his claims. He begin to catch on to the “type” of Black woman he was talking to.

He, an African man told an me an African woman that I don’t take notes, this is why I don’t this stuff. That my perception of his statements were out of context.

I just needed clarification.

I just needed to let his ass know that I was from the hood of Rochester, NY and did not take kindly his “observation” of me being from elsewhere, because I didn’t sound like “a normal Black”. He also wanted to emphasize that he was a Black person who came from Africa, homeless and “picked himself up by his bootstraps”. You know, the same bootstraps that are racialized when people try to tell Black communities why they continually are being systematically oppressed.

It sounded like like I was speaking to a conservative and colonized mind who felt the need to use the “American Blacks”,  “Regular Blacks” and “Americans” to signify how they are different amongst the other Blacks because they know (Lo Lo) a heritage closer to their true African identity.

My Black ass has had about enough of the foolery!

The more this man talked-he talked about how he struggled and worked his way up. He discussed about how he worked to obtain a job, brought his house and now is “living the American dream”.
Throughout the car ride, I didn’t feel comfortable neither did I understand what was the purpose. I didn’t want to argue with someone in the morning. So I decided to hit him with the mhmm, yeah, o….k.

Still not having the energy, I listened and starting recording to fuel my writing response that I would write today about my sh*tty past Tuesday. Then, the conversation took a turn and whether that was for me to sway my decision on his opinion or to just listen I’ll never know.

From his experiences and perspective he knows that collectively we as a Black community can beat the competition. We can be better and gain all we deserve in this life, we just have to do for ourselves. We are not deserving until we do for ourselves. In fact he said: No one can marginalized you unless you do it to yourself. 

In the back of my mind I knew damn well he doesn’t know his history.  AND. THIS. IS. WHERE. MY. SLEEPY. BLACK. ASS. WOKE. UP. AND. DREW. THE. LINE.

Not every “Black” person, excuse me “American” person, I mean "regular Bl…" I mean any damn Black descendant whose ancestor was taken from their Native land of Africa, separated by a boat stop of islands and mass lands has his story. In America, if you are Black, if your skin is dark, if you appear to have even the slightest Afrocentric features, everything you are is systematically minoritized by the system in the Westernized world. If you are Black globally, you are faced with these same stigmas because Anti-Blackness is an infection penetrated by Eurocentric ideology that has stretched the haves from the have no ts, the human from the inhumane, beauty from beast. As a quote by Charles Knox an anatomist, zoologist, ethnologist and doctor noted in "Race and Manifest Destiny" by Reginald Horsman wrote:

 "Race is everything, literature,science, art, -in a word, civilization depends on it". 
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*1619 was not "the official" start of African Chattel Slavery as there are cases recorded in history in which confirm the interest of Europeans in the mid 1500's trading Black bodies.

1954 was not long ago, neither is the thought and rhetoric that exists among people on the skrewed ideals of Black bodies.

The way we are working to address the police he “loves” so much collectively have a bad rep amongst Black and Brown communities...

The way we are working on to address the systemic racism…

The way we are working to uncover the veils that exist over the Black bodies like his, that have not educated themselves on the state of Black lives in this world…

The way we are working on the crisis that exist currently in this time of our political climate….
And once I explained to him this to he claimed "he just didn’t know”.

But, what I knew was that if the KKK were to go on a killing spree right now in this instance it wouldn’t matter if he was African, Jamaican, Dominican or any kind of “ethnic Black”. It wouldn’t matter was that I was “other”. All that would matter is that we were Black.

At the end of our conversation he complimented my perspective and said we need people on the inside to fight. He said the stuff that has happened to us in AmeriKKKa, crimes people have committed should not be marked against you especially for Black people.

For me on the other hand, I think we need insiders and outsiders. I think we need a collective decolonization of Black people in order to get to the root of success within our community. I think we need to have a serious discussion on the way Black people want to separate themselves so much from “Regular Blacks” to say I’m so proud of my heritage (be proud of it) I’m Black but not your kind of  Black (don't be on this ish). I think we need to have a conversation on the ignorance that existed when Black immigrants (but we all are immigrants) came from their countries to “AmeriKKKa” and were treated with such disdain among their brothas and sista. I think we need to have a conversation about Black folks who shy away from the term “American”, attack  “AmeriKKKa” but use the word “American” to insult the "normalized and basic forms of Blackness".

Nevertheless, I say this Uber experience was painful but I needed it. In the end I was so happy to get out of the car, you’d would have thought I had the best start to my morning ever.

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This experience made me think about my uncle who almost gave up his social justice fight because he just didn’t see progress.  He was older and saw too much damn division with the Black community and no sense of direction to pick up the pieces. He almost burned out but my grandmother she turned insane. I need you to let that sink in for a moment.

My grandmother always told me about the internal division that exists between the people of the African Diaspora. I knew there was more work to be done if we ever wanted to beat the system.
There’s still a long road ahead to put our internal pieces together.

Listen to part of the convo below:



9 comments:

  1. Wow! What an interesting start to your Tuesday. It always saddens and angers me at the same time when people categorize themselves, especially within the Black community. I thought you handle this situation well. #blmgirl

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    1. Thanks Kara! I feel the same way AT. THE. END. OF. THE. DAY. no matter how much we slice it, it's Black.

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  2. This is wild, but I know it's true because I've witnessed it myself. smh. Black people really gotta do better, man.

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    1. You couldn't have said it any better!

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  3. I'm sorry you had to deal first hand with this ignorance smh. It's sad that people really think like this without having any kind of factual statements to back them up. I just pray for the day that we can come together instead of segregating ourselves.

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  4. Wow, smh. Yes you were meant to have this interaction. Glad you recorded it and were able to share it with us. You also kept your calm girl lol. Thanks for the post!

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    1. Thank you for listening to my story. I tried. I really tried that day.

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  5. You did a good job of remaining in a respectful place. I applaud you for that. I am older and I have seen a lot more injustice and I have heard so many Africans/Americans and otherwise, try to separate themselves only to learn they are still black in the eyes of America until I am not so sure I could have been as tolerant as you. Good job.

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