Dear White People

*This post was written in May 2017 but still very much feels relevant in my life today*

Where do I even begin? Oh yes. Dear White people. The TV show, not an intro to a letter.

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I just finished watching this tv show on Netflix and I’m angry. Seething angry actually. But anger is not the only emotion invading my mind at the moment. I am also sad with a touch of enlightened. You see- this show opened my eyes far more to who I am.

I am Sam and I am Coco. I am found and I am lost.

Let me tell you a bit about myself. I’m Jennifer Jean-Pierre. A 35 year old woman born in Port au Prince, Haiti but raised in the Midwest. Being Haitian comes with a lot. To me it’s the most beautiful culture in the world but yes I am very biased. It isn’t Great Expectations but strict as all heck expectations. Manners count for everything and gender roles are at the forefront of it all. I don’t want to go in depth about my culture but just know being Haitian means more than likely if finances allow, you attend private school. And let’s be real honest- most private schools’ hallways are lined with White people. It is unfortunately back to that finance thing. I guess that’s privilege.

I grew up around White people. I could count on one hand the amount of blacks in my class. It was the area in Michigan and it was just what was. My first ever best friend was a girl by the name of Gwendolyn. She was the first person to be patient enough to try to decipher my oh-so broken English in the 1st grade. Oh that’s the other thing- I’m an ESL kid. I didn’t know this language until I was about 7 years old. It took about 6 months to reach fluency and yet 28 years later, I still find myself putting the wrong emphasis on the wrong sy-llable.  I mean- it just happens.

Watching Dear White people was so hard. I see the internal struggles that face two of the main female characters, Sam and Coco. Sam, a biracial college student with the most radical of thoughts and actions, screams black power in every word she utters.  She does this so much that she created a radio show titled, “Dear White people” and Coco, a beautiful Black woman from the south side of Chicago who knows being Black is hard as shit in America but believes that assimilation paves the road to success. I fully see myself in both.

For most of my life, I was Coco. Not because I was trying to succeed but because I wanted to stay under the radar. I never wanted to be seen as the Black girl in my White school. I just wanted to blend in. I was shy until I wanted to be outspoken. It was 8th grade when I transferred to an even more privileged private school that my confidence grew a bit. It grew in the form of a boycott. A boycott against my basketball coach who I felt was being unfair. About what? I honestly cannot remember but I convinced fellow teammates to skip practice until he changed his ways. And his ways did change.

From that, you would think I would continue to fight whatever good fight came my way but instead I became a slight bully in high school. My words were venom and I directed them at others. But then I started dating the wrong guy and I became the “victim” to bullying. Karma, right?

Oh and this whole journey, almost all of my friends were White. I did not feel comfortable with my fellow Blacks because I didn’t get it. Black pop culture was as foreign to me as my first time hearing the English language. I did not get it. I was just a Valley Girl. So I avoided my fellow Blacks cause I didn’t want to be called an Oreo. You know- black on the outside but white on the inside. Ohhhhhh that would kill me to hear. That was the time in my life that it was far more comfortable to blend in with the Whites rather than be teased by my fellow Blacks.

So……. college came and I joined a white sorority. Not because it was White but because it was all we had at the time at Michigan State. I had intentions on Skee Wee’ing my way through but their probation occurred during my time on campus.

I loved my sorority sisters. I still love my sorority sisters. But it was not until recently that I was faced with the fact that some of them saw me as the Black girl they let in. And that a lot of my “sisters” ended up being closet bigots. As in, we can date Black guys but can’t marry them cause “what would people think”.  We can be friends with you and that means we aren’t racist. But I digress. This is not about them but about me.

College was when I made my first close Black friend. She was a “Valley girl” like me. It was easy. I could hang with someone who looked like me and acted like me. Until she left school….

Oh- and let me also add, that whole time my dating life had only been White men. Not because I didn’t find Black men attractive and plain old amazing, but because I never felt “Black” enough. It was not until my senior year that I dated a man who forever changed my views. While he teased me incessantly about my “Blackness”, he also allowed me to be me. Thanks C-Diddy.

My time out of college has been an interesting one. I still have issues trying to fit in. The last 2 years I really have gotten to a point of giving no F’s. That was prompted by a ridiculously eye- opening breakup. I’m so thankful for that breakup. But I left that breakup and all my thoughts about it in my old blog, Comme Coco.

This is about Dear White People and how it affected me. This is about the systemic racism that we face every single day. This is about the fear we feel when around police officers. This is about the pain and anger that we, Blacks feel about the gunning down of our Black men day in and day out and the murderers being set free. This is about the quickness of gun reform debates occuring after White children are gunned down at school yet the guns who are killing the Black youth are blamed solely on the “hood” mentalities. Cause hey- black lives don’t matter in America.

Am I woke?

I don’t know. But I do know that I am hella mad. I know that it’s hard for me at times to now feel comfortable with my non Black friends. Nothing against them. They did not do anything. I love them to death. It’s just- they can’t understand the pain, anger or culture. The same way that my fellow Blacks could not relate to my Valley girl-ness is how my White friends, although they try, cannot relate to what it feels like to be Black in America. It’s hard. Really hard.

But I guess it’s just the way the  Oreo cookie crumbles.

No matter how I speak, what slang I use, what school I went to, and how I may carry myself, I am never ever fooled into thinking I’m not black. I know who I am. I’m Black and I am proud. Society knows I am black. And my Black life along with all my brothers and sisters’ lives matter. But America feels differently.

In May 2017, I spent 5 days surrounded by fellow sisters (other black girls if you didn’t know). I have never felt so free, open and unrestricted in my life. I know that a big part of it was my own self journey of love that afforded me certain confidence boosting but it’s also being around other beautiful black women. It truly is a sisterhood. While I still may sound more Valley girl than anything- I am 100 percent Black- mind, body and soul.

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A very, very proud Black woman.

A black woman that truly needs to catch up on the culture but nonetheless I don’t have the same hang ups.

I’m currently typing this in the Notes app on my phone while sitting in the aisle seat of my Southwest flight back home. Watching Dear White People compelled me to write. It inspired me to speak about my journey.

Bravo to the creators of this amazing show. Not only do you have people thinking but also speaking.

Dear White people,

Please tune into Netflix asap and watch all 10 episodes of Dear White People.

It’s time for y’all to get woke in your own way.

*This post was written in May 2017 but still very much feels relevant in my life today*

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10 Comments

  1. Lauren Kent
    March 5, 2018 / 10:31 am

    This was oh so good, Jen! I can relate a little. Too black, not black enough. I’m glad you found comfort in who you are as a beautiful black woman. I’m loving the new blog. It gives me a good feeling!

    Xoxo

    • jennjeanpierre
      March 5, 2018 / 11:34 am

      Thank you so much for visiting and for commenting. It’s an everyday struggle for me but at the end of the day- we just need to e ourselves. Whatever and however that may be!

  2. Lindsey Greene
    March 5, 2018 / 9:00 pm

    This post was raw, beautiful and vunerable… I can relate on a few different points. I am proud to call you my friend and I’m excited to see where this journey leads you next!!

    • jennjeanpierre
      March 5, 2018 / 10:59 pm

      Hey Lindsey! Thank you so much for visiting and reading!

  3. March 6, 2018 / 10:34 am

    I love the transparency of your posts, your transparency is one of my favorite things about you, and don’t ever stop being so authentically you! I look forward to reading more of your captivating life/journey experiences! I love the freshness and distinctiveness of your blog! It’s so you!!!

    • jennjeanpierre
      March 6, 2018 / 10:45 am

      And I just love you. You are such a ride or die and we havent even met yet. That is what I LOVE about blogging. Building a community!

  4. Cecilia Andersen
    March 6, 2018 / 4:44 pm

    Jen, this piece is raw and beautiful. I could feel your journey throughout life to today. Thank you for being so open. It takes courage to be emotionally naked and people like you are and will be at the forefront of the social change America needs to explore racial injustice.

    You opened my eyes a year ago, after the Women’s March in DC. We both went and that Monday you mentioned that many black woman didn’t participate because they have been screaming about these same issues for years and now, only because white women are screaming, does the world pay attention. It was a casual comment but it stuck with me. It woke me up. I thought I was a supporter of POC, technically I am a person of color, as a Mexican-American, but I have not fully understood nor fully paid attention to the BLM movement. Since then, I have and when and where I can, I clarify, inform, and educate others on it and other systemwide racial inequality out country shamefully has. Thank you for opening my eyes.

    • jennjeanpierre
      March 6, 2018 / 5:01 pm

      Oh Cecilia! I never knew this but THANK YOU! I do remember us talking about this but I never realized how VERY much it resonated with you. I appreciate you writing and telling me. On another note….. lunch soon?

  5. March 15, 2018 / 11:02 am

    I am so pleased that you are here blogging and voicing your thoughts. I am a much older woman than you are, but I have always believed that I learn from all ages and appreciate a new informing voice. I very much loved Dear White People, and wish that all people and especially white people watch the show. It troubles me to say ‘white people’ because I do not believe in the social construct of ‘whiteness.’ There is only one race, not multi races of people. We are ethic mixes of humanity and our cultural differences are fascinating. But, we do not live in a human utopia and ‘white’ power structure and privileges dictate the language and terminology that exists, and we must be armed and aware of their limitations.
    You are a beautiful and charming woman, the very best to you. I love you blogs and postings. Please find me on IG Brenda Harris @inallitsforms

    • jennjeanpierre
      March 15, 2018 / 11:25 am

      Thank you so much Brenda for taking the time to write me. I appreciate you. I’ll be sure to find you on IG. I agree with so much do what you wrote. I believe we all are just humans with different variations that make us all beautiful but like you said- social constructs have determined our labels. I hope to hear more from you. Thank you.