Personal narrative: The Token Black Guy.

Essay by sy_124 November 2005

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In school social circles, I always find myself "The Token Black Guy." I thought of this term for my role after viewing an episode of Scrubs on TV. I started thinking about the small number of black students at my school. It is something I have always turned a blind eye to.

I've never really been bothered about being the only black friend most of my friends have. But at times, it leads me to some stressful conclusions. I realize that I, in a way, represent the entire black community to them, as they get to know me, and see my strengths and weaknesses. It is one of the things that keeps me motivated. Perhaps I want people to see only the best in us, or perhaps it is something deeper.

I have never had problems with people because they were white. There have been, however, those who've had problems with me because I'm black.

Sometimes, it's very subtle: because I am black, I must listen to rap music, play basketball or use a lot of slang. In truth, my parents make fun of me for using a lot of big words, I'm terrible at sports, and usually listen to classical music.

Other times, however, it is more overt. People come up to me using slang and gestures typical of urban African-American youth, and expect me to reciprocate. It's gone so far as for white kids to think they can use the "n" word around me. This does more than make me angry, it makes me question my identity.

Modern culture, especially that perpetuated on MTV, has given many suburban white kids the idea that they are oppressed by some business-like aristocracy. That may be true in a way, but in another, it is puzzling that the reaction has been...