The Plight of being Blite: a narrative about identity

Urkel fits the blite description to many people.

Urkel fits the “blite” description to many people.

Gabriel Leanord, Editor

Blite: (1) (adj.) a way of describing a person whose outer appearance does not align with their racial stereotype. Instead it aligns with a different race’s stereotypes.

(2) (person) Gabriel Leonard.

People often wonder why I dress, talk and act so “white.” I happen to be an African American male, so this strikes them as the appropriate way to describe my clothes, speech and behavior. Just because I don’t sag my pants, drop mixtapes and put #D1Bound in my social media bios, I am somehow acting “white.”

I actually find it funny when people tell me how “white” I am, but at the same time there is some seriousness in the name calling. I don’t find it offensive, and in fact recognize that it is usually intended as a compliment the way people say it. Somehow being white is associated with being smart, well-mannered and able to speak properly.

While I do appreciate the sentiment behind this oddly-framed compliment, I wish this interpretation of my behavior as being outside of the stereotypical bounds of my race converted over into the everyday world. I find it very difficult that I have to deal with racial prejudice outside of my home environment, and so do most of my African American brothers.

I wish the police officer who questioned if a package I was holding on my doorstep was mine could see me as “blite.” Because I do understand the oddly-framed compliments, I wish he could see that I am more than my skin tone and that I should be judged on my behavior, not my appearance.

People believe racism is overplayed, but tell that to the lady in the Giant who clutches her purse when I walk by her. Tell that to the man who tells his daughter to stay away from me. Please tell them how “blite” I am. Tell them we all are, because I am honestly tired. Not of people calling me white, but of the world treating me like an alien. No human deserves to be judged this way.

Because I do appreciate those oddly-framed compliments, I wish the rest of the world felt the same way. It has become all too easy to joke about racism when you are a target of it. It’s in the way that the “n” word rolls off the African American tongue so easily after being said once. The same way an officer’s gun comes out so easily when he sees a young man like me.

But I think I’ve learned how not to die as an African American male.

As so eloquently stated by Trevor Noah, I learned from one African American male that I can’t wear a hood in public no matter what the weather. I learned from another black male not to approach the police. I learned from another black male not to hold an airsoft gun. I learned from yet another black male that I can’t be big. I also learned that while I can’t approach an officer, at the same time, I can’t ever run away from one. Oh, and I recently learned that I shouldn’t carry a small weapon or I will get shot near 20 times.

I understand what I can’t do if I want to survive, but I just don’t understand what I CAN do. Maybe I’m not welcome here?

While I do appreciate your oddly-framed compliments, I wish we all got along.  So although I understand the positive intentions you have when you call me white, I can’t hide who I am. I am the unaccepted. I am the unwanted. I am the African American male, and I WANT your approval but I can’t get it.

Although I do appreciate your oddly-framed compliments. I am only “blite” with the people I know. I learned that I can’t be me.

My life matters as much as the next man’s, and maybe one day the rest of the world will feel that way as well.