Opinion

Why ‘tryin’ to be white’ hurts us all in the long run

Many people may not realize what the term means and may be led to believe this article is about something someone would actually want to do. To clarify: “tryin’ to be white”, among other similar terms, is an accusation used between Black kids toward those that dream big and want to succeed in academics, life, and who may shun “typical” professions of Black youth, which include athletics and entertainment. Some may say that accusing someone of “tryin’ to be white” is similar to simply calling someone a nerd. It is not. Telling someone that they do not fit into their own race is detrimental to their development both mentally and socially.

It stunts the progress mainly of Black males, and females to a lesser extent, who are looked upon as less cool because they may not care about buying the next throwback jersey, jewelry or expensive car. Please notice: most of the students that are accused of tryin’ to be white are the same students that are revered for their intelligence and leadership skills at this university. Those that are intelligent but would rather be seen by others as being cool, join this group of underachievers and curb their high achievement so that they may fit in. This is evident with other students here who walk into class late, unprepared and ready to send text messages or nap as soon as they walk in. They aren’t “tryin’ to be white”, but they sure are cool.

Continuing to dissuade others to dream of a life better than what they currently have hurts all of us because we will forever live without the insight that those that chose to join this underachieving group may have provided. We should encourage people to excel at all they do. It is great if someone is an athlete, but we should remind him that athletics and academics go hand in hand, and enthusiasm for both should be equal.

As a teenager, I was accused of tryin’ to be white because of my goal to earn a college degree and work hard to achieve it. If tryin’ to be white is defined as being intelligent, hard working, goal oriented, and succeeding, I am guilty as charged and I refuse to apologize.

Vontilla Steven can be contacted at v.steven@umiami.edu.

September 14, 2004

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Dewan Huell will be wearing green and orange for at least another year. Huell announced Saturday on ...

Their bats and gloves and baseball skills weren't enough Thursday night. Now, the Miami Hurrica ...

Florida State's recruiting trail hit Georgia last week, and while the #Tribe19 class is a focal ...

It's almost summer, time for college football players to wind down and chill out — every now an ...

Alumna and faculty member shares lessons and learning about racial identity in free parent community ...

Voters head to the polls in a historic election to choose the country’s next president. ...

From boathouse to marine research powerhouse, the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Scienc ...

A snapshot guide to the start of summer in and around UM. ...

Former investment banker Charmel Maynard leads UM’s investments and treasury functions. ...

The Canes wrapped up a stormy weekend at the NCAA East Preliminary with their final two qualifiers f ...

Miami native pulls name out of NBA Draft process. ...

Stormy weather in the Gulf of Mexico may have delayed Friday's competition, but wind and rain c ...

Last season, Miami Hurricanes fans created, quite simply, one of the best home-field advantages in c ...

University of Miami senior Christian Langmo and freshman Adria Soriano were edged by Florida's ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.