Many Americans are proud to be citizens of a country they described as “the greatest nation in the world”, but it is no longer the greatest, says African American student Shylinn Brooks.
The 20-year-old hopes to move out of the country. “Living here is a struggle for me,” she said. “The racism, the stereotypes, the presidential candidates, everything.”
The existence of stereotypes on Black people is not a new issue in the country. But what hits Brooks is that many Black people actually follow the negative stereotypes. Graduating from a Catholic school and a charter school, Brooks has always surrounded herself with people of all kinds of races but Black.
“I don’t hang out with many Black people because I don’t want them to influence me. They are wearing the reputation of the whole Black population down,” she said. “I don’t drink. I don’t smoke weeds. I don’t get angry easily. I don’t have sex at a young age. I intended to draw myself away from the negative stereotypes.”
“Sometimes when I hang out with my Asian friends and some black people see me, they ask ‘Why are you with the Asians? You shouldn’t be!’ ”she added.
Raised in an uneducated family, Brooks’s family sometimes makes fun of her for being a multicultural and atypical Black person.
“They speak African American Vernacular English due to their education,” she said. “So they always tease me for ‘speaking like a White girl’ when I speak proper English.”
But Brooks also describes her family as playing a big part in shaping who she is today. When she was young, Brooks said that her parents did not want her to be like her other cousins who did not finish high school. Today as she grows up, she has become a role model in the family.
“My cousin told her kids that she wants them to be like Shylinn,” she said. “Even though my family members always make fun of me, I know that they are very proud to see me doing something with my life.”
By living outside the country, Brooks also hopes to do justice to the Eastern world’s perception of who the people of color especially Black people really are.
“I was once worried about racism in Asia which may give me a hard time living there,” she said. “But I live my life to break the stereotypes. So nothing else matters.”