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

Darrell Langham, the redshirt junior receiver who caused an uproar among Miami Hurricanes fans the p ...

This news release just in from the University of Miami, another impressive class about to be inducte ...

The University of Miami men’s basketball team got a welcome dose of good news on Monday night. Verno ...

After a disheartening week of practice injury-wise following the University of Miami’s victory at Fl ...

University of Miami’s highly-touted freshman Lonnie Walker, who had surgery for a torn right meniscu ...

From a game simulating how whales navigate to a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, the U showcased some of ...

A new mobile game called Blues and Reds, now available worldwide, aims to help researchers study int ...

A major Lancet Commission report, a three-year project headed by UM’s Professor Felicia Knaul and co ...

With a $6.8 million NIH grant, the UM School of Nursing and Health Studies and FIU Robert Stempel Co ...

A summer 2017 excursion unlike any other united a group of University of Miami students and faculty ...

The Hurricanes will look to slow down an inspired Syracuse team at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday. ...

University of Miami head coach Mark Richt was selected to the 20-member Paul "Bear" Bryant ...

As a Hurricane Club member, you are invited to participate in the 25th Annual University of Miami Ha ...

University of Miami sophomore Bruce Brown Jr. was among 21 players named to the watch list for the 2 ...

Head coach Katie Meier and senior forward/center Erykah Davenport will represent Miami Thursday at t ...

TMH Twitter Feed
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.