Sam I am.
At least that’s how I felt watching the Netflix Original series, Dear White People ¾ a spin-off of the 2014, critically acclaimed satirical movie that bears the same name. With a mixture of hard-hitting puns and a play on stereotypes, while addressing recurring issues among yt and Black folk, it reflects our current cultural climate.
Sam White, a militant radio host on the campus of a fictitious Ivy League University, battles with the duality of being a biracial woman. Even though I’m not biracial, I understood Sam’s struggle with identity and love. I grew up a military brat who could’ve easily used that “I don’t see color” excuse folks use now, because honestly, I didn’t know the difference between Black and white until I moved to an all-Black neighborhood. Itwas then I realized how different I am. How Aerosmith and Wham! weren’t the songs of choice for my classmates, or how much I enjoyed Star Trek Deep Space Nine and conversely, how I knew all the words to NWA songs, found solace in the Native Tongues, and wanted so desperately to attend an HBCU, in which later I got my wish.
Thanks A Different World.
I truly felt like I lived in a different world in my urban city of Paterson. I was a transplant from sunny San Diego, who soon migrated to Atlanta, and ended up around the most amount of Black folk I’ve seen in all my life. I understood Sam’s fight for the cause which I found myself doing so effortlessly, on the campus of Clark Atlanta University. I understood how Reggie seemed overbearing, despite how dope he was. I had my own version of “Reggie” chasing after me from Freshmen orientation, up ‘till the day our mutual best friend got married. He and I were in the wedding together. Shoutout to my #brightlight.
However, there’s a difference between why Sam and I didn’t choose our “Reggie.” Me, I didn’t believe my “Reggie” was serious and when “Reggie” runs through your whole crew, while still attempting to garner your attention, you begin to wonder if those feelings of his are valid. I never thought his feeling were valid, and he never thought enough to prove it otherwise.
Sam, just didn’t SEE hers.
She didn’t see him because she wasn’t checking for him, then felt like a sell out because she fell in love with the very person she spoke out against. Thing is, love doesn’t have a color, race, or gender. You can’t help who you love and in the end, not being brave in her truth, knowing “the cause” would always cause a conflict with her heart, because she put the folk on her back and wore the “S” on her chest, she lost. She lost a friend trying to see what she was missing, and lost her love because she wasn’t honest.
Sam I am.
Going so hard only to be recognized for what I do, not who I am. Pushing me to the front because I seem less aggressive, or my aggression isn’t perceived as a preemptive strike. “I’m a woman under here.” Her words pierced me because so many “Reggies” forget. That’s why “Gabe” comes off so appealing. “I just want someone to see me.” A phrase I’ve said so much but haven’t reaped the ROI. Being able to identify with both the Black and not-so-Black qualities of myself, hoping to not be judged because of the ability to walk comfortably in both worlds. Enjoying a cappuccino, while collectively being able to scream “fight the power.” The love for black lives doesn’t mean the hatred of white ones.
I understood Sam. I understood her arrogance, her selfishness, her inability to separate the person from the movement, and her pushing the agenda, even if it meant dismissing the feelings of others, the feelings of her friends. I know, because I’ve done it.
Wanting so hard to make change, pushing the envelope so far there’s no return. Ruffling feathers till they’re bare, pushing so far back that people fall off a cliff.
Sam I am.
It was hard to watch her make silly mistakes because I did the same. Too stubborn to be the person I wanted people to see. I’m sure at one point or another we’ve all been a “Sam.” Managing the two, or many, sides of you can be a difficult task. And the sides are subjective. They don’t have to necessarily signify race; because the art of code switching is enough. Going back and forth between worlds while trying to maintain your sanity is a Black woman’s constant struggle. Trust me, you know Sam because you’re her, every day.
My takeaway from Sam, which should be a constant reminder, is to simply not give a fuck. Sam gave folks too many fucks and when she ran out of fucks to give, she was empty and bare handed. Sam also reminded me to not shame another sista because her #blackgirlmagic is different from mine. Everyone is down for the cause in a different way. We need that. We all can’t be on the frontline because who’s going to be in the boardroom closing deals? Once again, we’re not a monolith. And if we don’t want others to marginalize us, we need to refrain from doing the same.
Sam I am.
The light-skinned, Brown girl who comes off palatable until she opens her mouth and drops a load of F-bombs. The girl unbothered by the need to fit in, but still wanting to be chosen. The girl screaming “just because I don’t ‘Black’ the way YOU ‘Black’ it doesn’t make me simply a skin tone.” The same girl who believes I AM my hair because it is connected to my soul, my roots are my soul, but this skin I’m in is just a shell and I shouldn’t be boxed in because of it…
I should be loved and respected, because of it.
I, am Sam.
*** The Free Spirit Aka Vee is an adult novelist writing under the moniker L.T. Robinson. When she’s not purveying the perverse, she’s living her unicorn life slanging nouns and verbs for other writers just like her. You can find her on Instagram @theauthorlt and @vee_uwrite.