My Interest Does Not Define Me


Some time in fourth or fifth grade, I came across this song that altered my emotional development. I was a semi-shy girl with zero knowledge of the love department. I had a crush on a classmate whose name doesn’t come to me at the moment. So when I first heard the lyrics, “Romeo, save me, I’ve been feeling so alone.” they immediately struck something in me. And I credit this song for making me a hopeless romantic ever since.

The artist of the song, Taylor Swift, didn’t really stick with me until the release of her fifth album, 1989, often called “the Pop Bible”. I’ve been aware of her and her music for a while. I distinctly remember being so fond of her after she performed her then hit, “You Belong With Me,” in the New York City train system after being publicly shamed by Kanye West on the VMA’s. But it wasn’t until 1989, that I realized, “Damn! I really like this white girl as an artist.”

Sure, she had plenty of hits before then that I liked. 

And then one day that peace of freely liking her broke. I was talking with my friends, my black friends, and we started discussing music. We each shared various songs we liked and I mentioned a Taylor Swift song, and that’s when they started laughing.

I can’t remember how I felt about it at the moment. It doesn’t bother me today and I don’t think about it often. But it is one of the very first moments I realized that as a black girl, certain things aren’t “for us”.

Taylor Swift, like the majority of other white artists, isn’t “for me.” I’m not her target audience. And in the black community, it’s laughable if you’re a fan.

I had a light “emo” phase during middle school and I’m thankful that the people I surrounded myself with also enjoyed those artists or didn’t mind it. But I distinctly remember listening to “King for A Day” by Pierce The Veil at home with headphones on at full volume, and my mom yelling at me to turn it off. She said, “Why are you listening to that? That’s not our music.”

I can disguise it as her raising me in Christian music and probably thinking that it was “devil music,” but the “that’s not our music” conflicts with that.

There are many instances looking back where I realize that I wasn’t “supposed” to fit in. My favorite tv show growing up was Hannah Montana. I had everything I possibly could relate to her. I had the sheet set, the pillow, the singing doll, the dance-along cd, and the 2-part tour DVD. I even somehow convinced my mother to buy me the blonde wig. Hannah was my life, and I cried when she took off her wig and showed them the real her.

But now I see moments that I blocked out. When the family came over and saw my bed or toys, they would grimace and say comments like, “You really like that?” When church friends stopped by they would say, “That’s white people stuff.” or “Are you trying to be white?”

I was too young to understand the comments or truly care enough to change. 

But now that I’m older and more consciously aware, it actually pisses me off.

What classifies something as “only for white people?” Why does listening to or supporting white artists make me “whitewashed”?

Recently I was scrolling through TikTok and I saw a black girl respond to a comment about her being “whitewashed” and trying to fit into an aesthetic that “doesn’t doesn’t go with dark-skinned girls.” The girl was wearing pink. Pink, with a bow on her ponytail. Is that the definition of “whitefishing” or whatever that term is anyway? Are white girls the only ones allowed to dress girly and wear pink?

Why are white women the only ones allowed to be girly? Why do I have to fit into the mold of what black people supposedly are? White people can explore, change and discover themselves through various different mediums but I’m expected to stay in the same formula as the black woman stereotype. It’s unfair.

I understand I’m not the target audience when it comes to white celebrities. I’m not looking for validation or representation. I’m just trying to enjoy something. 

And that does not make me a different skin color. I am still black. And still a woman.