Being a spokesperson, whether you want to or not

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 20, 2006

A few years back there was a very profound cartoon on MTV. After watching it, I would always feel more enlightened on the topic of the afternoon. Yes, I know, the thought of something that actually made you think on MTV, crazy huh?

Anyway, the cartoon was Daria.

It was the story of a lead character named Daria Morgendorffer who attended Lawndale High School.

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Everyday she sported a green blazer, pleated black skirt and a pair of knee-high laced black boots.

The animated series was based on the life of a cynical, sarcastic teenage girl who didn’t want to conform to the norm.

Her family consisted of a mother, Helen, who for the most part, remained calm in every episode, and a dad, Jake, whose veined eyes would nearly pop out of his head when he got angry.

Then there was Quinn, Daria’s sister, who was the cheerleading, boy-crazy, make-up wearing, fashion-crazed female who was part of the in-crowd at school.

The city of Lawndale always reminded me of the town where I went to high school.

Before traveling to Alabama, I spent four years of my life in Simsbury, Connecticut.

The only reason I got the opportunity to attend Westminster High School was because, I received a scholarship for being part of a hot commodity group dubbed “inner city youth.”

The first day of my freshman year, I was overwhelmed by the perfect little town with bagel shops and quaint little stores. After all, I was coming from the city of Hartford where drug dealers and gang bangers roamed freely (No, not really).

My city was different, but not because it was the “ghetto.”

It was different because of the array of people that lived there. Blacks, Hispanics, Italians, and whites.

Not everyone dressed in J. Crew, Gap and Abercrombie and Fitch. Not everyone owned a private practice where they were lawyers, doctors and attorneys. And not everyone drove a Passat or Jetta.

I grew up where wheat-colored Timberlands and hooded sweatshirts were the fashion and you didn’t have to be a “thug” to wear them. Where the sound system in your car was a sign of your status. And most of all, where I was exposed to a not-so-perfect world, real life, where everything wasn’t dandelions and daisies.

But when I entered Westminster High School, I was one of the eight black children in the entire school.

I had always thought of myself having a strong connection to Daria, because of my non-conformist ways, but it was one episode dealing with the want to fit in and be like everyone else that made me bond with Jodie, one of the few black characters on the show.

When Daria sat down for a heart-to-heart talk about sometimes feeling too different from everyone else and being the “representative” for cynical, smart kids at the school, Jodie said the words that described my sentiments exactly.

“I know exactly how you feel Daria,” Jodie told her. “It’s like at home, I’m Jodie, just a normal kid. But at school, I’m Jodie ‘Queen of the Negroes.'”

Over the years I’ve learned that sometimes, you are given responsibility just because you are the only one like you, whether it is race, sex or status.

Sometimes you get the obligation whether or not you want it.

The question you have to ask yourself is whether you are strong enough to bear the title as the official spokesperson for your “kind.”

It may be a lot of blood, sweat and tears involved, but I’ve come to realize that I am ready to roll with the punches that life may attempt to hit me with.

After all, God will never put me in a situation that He doesn’t think I can handle.