Being an athlete, we talk a lot about what’s appropriate and inappropriate to put on the internet. We not only represent ourselves, but also our school, our sport, and the entire reputation of the NCAA. This summer, Kansas Athletics arranged with each team to have a media lesson with ESPN reporter Holly Rowe. In our meeting, we talked a lot about personal branding and what each of us want to share with people we meet about who we are. The personal brand I hope to achieve is a confident, intelligent, and fun young lady. For the most part, I think I achieve that and brand myself well.
Being confident, I rarely have a problem being comfortable in my own skin. Recently, a couple of my friends and I were at a club. Being silly, I started dancing around, awkwardly on purpose, and attempting to make the most of a somewhat lack luster night with my friends- like I normally do when I’m out with my girls. This time, however, instead of this group of friends joining in with me, they all watched me. A couple laughed. A couple acted like they were too cool to be seen with me. And a couple told me that I was acting like, “Such a white girl.”
I wear pink and love sparkly things. I have more purses and shoes than sweatpants. I love to shop and yes, I love Starbucks and mani/pedis. Who doesn’t? On top of all that, I’m white. Some would qualify me as “typical,” but I am who I am and I am fully confident in who I am as a person. So why were my friends I was with trying to make me feel shame towards my personality? I was really offended by the negative connotation my fellow WHITE friends put on
my race our race. Even though racism is usually spread by people who believe their own race is superior, in a way, I felt as if my friends’ comments were racist towards me.
The definition of racism according to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary is, “A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” With this definition, the comments of my friends regarding my dancing was a reflection of all females of my race and thus, making me a disgrace was racist. I AM a WHITE girl… Why can’t I act like one? Why do these traits need to be classified? In this situation, I felt as if race should’ve been completely left out of the equation. I am who I am, and I am proud of that. There’s no need to classify actions in with race and there’s definitely no need for ANYONE to feel as if they are inferior to others simply because of their actions or characteristics and this situation only begins to scratch the surface of prejudice in today’s society.
This incident reminded me of an Eleanor Roosevelt quote: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” If you are confident in your own personal brand, who you are, and what you stand for, then who cares what your friends say? They may say something offensive and make you feel like you need to hide who you are or conform, but if they make you feel inferior, are they really your friends? Don’t give them your consent to feel that way. In this situation, I think the former first lady would have kept dancing even if her friends were ridiculing her actions. Eleanor Roosevelt was a badass and we should all take note.