I am not this skin
I am not your expectations, no (hey)
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am the soul that lives within
The chorus from 'I Am Not My Hair' by India Arie. If you like real soul and R&B you need to give her a listen. Anyway I have been growing my hair back out lately and it got me to thinking about this song. She talks about the journey of her hair throughout her life. Being a man it might be harder to directly relate, cause for us its usually a matter of short or long, but I do feel all can relate to the deeper meaning of the song. The chorus lets you know that what she is talking about transcends hair, skin, even expectations, and that is what I want to talk about.
You see someone with a long beard and you might think tough, country boy, hunter. Someone with a flattop and shaved sides you automatically think military. How about an Afro or dreadlocks or maybe a Mohawk? What pops in your mind upon first glance. Is it a positive or negative? All may depend on what you know about those hairstyles or people you have known with them. Truthfully though if you stop and think about it, you don't really know anything.
I have an Afro going because its winter and having more hair keeps my head warm. If it gets long enough, later this year that might turn into some locks, twist, or braids. It might also just all get cut off. When you see me though with different styles or lengths, what are you thinking? What about when you see the color of my skin. To a bigger point, if you know where I'm from or where I live or where I've worked are you expecting me to be or act a certain way?
To many times in my life people see me doing or saying something that just defies their expectations and I ask why? I get that if its something unusual from your point of view and experience then you are going to be amazed, but guess what any human is capable of doing anything at any given time.
I do like basketball, but that is not just a given because of my skin. I like tennis just as much and track and field most of all. Do I listen to rap yes, mostly old school as a lot of today's is crap, but guess what I also listen to rock, r&b, country & western, jazz, gospel, blues, reggae, classical YOU NAME IT!!! You can easily find out any of these things if you are willing to talk to me. Get to know me before you decide anything about me.
Its time that we start to get rid of the "BROTHAS DON'T DO THAT", "THATS WHITE PEOPLE", or "YOU KNOW HOW THEY ARE". I really get that it can be used in a joking manner, as I have admittedly done, but use it too much and the joke is on you because it becomes how you really see things.
Knowingly or not you will limit yourself or that person. That mountain that you are told is too high might just be a little hill, but you wont even try to climb it. That person you supervise that is the hardest worker and the best candidate for a job will keep getting passed over never given their due because your eyes are closed to even see what they are doing. The person that might be your best friend is waiting for you to ask how their doing today, and you wont even talk to them.
We let too many external things define us in this society. My hair or beard length and style doesn't mean I'm taking a certain political stance, nor does my skin color mean that I have to either. Truthfully yes a majority of a group can statistically have certain behaviors in common, but don't rely on just numbers when your talking about people because they can't tell you whats inside. Whats in someone's heart and mind could transform your life, and life itself if let out. It is time we stop looking at ourselves and others outsides and pay attention to the insides, THE SOUL THAT LIVES WITHIN.