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taiowa72's avatar

What if you're 40 and you're still not socially accepted?

Asked by taiowa72 (32 points ) September 22nd, 2012

I am a 40 year old black woman who was bullied as a child because I spoke properly and hung around white people. I wasn’t socially accepted by other black kids and I wasn’t socially accepted by the white kids either. I was labeled a zebra and called terrible other names by the black kids. I was different. I felt different and I was an outcast. I’m from Iowa and grew up in the 70’s, so it made it even worse.

I find I am still facing these same issues even to this day! I don’t fit in, anywhere. I’ve since moved from Iowa and down to Texas. Black people know as soon as I open my mouth that I am different, and white people seem to think or act intimidated by me. I just can’t take it anymore! I have hardly any friends because of this!! It has made me dislike my own race because I’m not accepted!

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11 Answers

jerv's avatar

I cannot speak to the racial aspects (I am whiter than Wonder bread) but as a geek with some strong opinions on things, I know all too well about not being accepted. However, I can always find somewhere where people do accept and like me. For me, it’s game stores, Linux user groups, and other geeky places. I’m not sure where you would go to find the same sort of acceptance, but I would imagine that it would be easier for you to find such a place as there are more people like you than there are people like me.

FYI, I’m almost 40 myself, so I’ve been dealing with it almost as long as you have.

cottoneyej's avatar

You know what they say…life begins at 40. I understand that you are facing many challenges. However the real problem here – stigmas.
In order to fight those stigmas you have to change your way of thinking – you are not weird, you are special, be proud at what you are. If you show to the surrounding people that you are not afraid they will respect you. It’s all in your mind. Best of luck.

El_Cadejo's avatar

You need to just stop caring about what others think about you and just be you and proud of who you are.
Leaving Iowa for Texas wasn’t exactly a step up in the whole racism department….

Sunny2's avatar

Welcome to Fluther! We have all kinds of folks here, so you should fit in. Of course we’re almost all anonymous, so you can be whoever you want to be.
Have you tried church groups? Or groups like the League of Women Voters, YWCA, other volunteer groups who are happy to have new helping hands?

Judi's avatar

That so sucks. I don’t know what to say. If I lived near you I’d be your friend.

geeky_mama's avatar

Hi @taiowa72
First off, sounds like we’re the same age. (I’m guessing the ‘72 in your name means, like me, you turned 40 this year.) I’ll bet we could share some similar stories of growing up in the 70s (the era of Free to Be You and Me) like having Underoos and banana seat bikes as kids. ;)

Your question reminds me of a conversation I’ve had with one of my very best girl friends. She was born on the East Coast but mainly grew up in Atlanta and had a very similar experience to yours. She’s taken a lot of grief and been called names like “Oreo”...all for being an educated black woman (well, girl at the time) and talking properly.

She lived in Colorado and Atlanta then moved north to Minnesota for a fantastic job…and at first thought that MN might be where she’d be most comfortable. (Although as a black woman she was definitely in the minority here—because MN is still predominantly white as far as demographics go..though as every year passes we get a bit more diversity.)

But after about a decade here some things began to wear on her.. like when she’d shop in Target and some store associate would suddenly start sort of “following” her through the store…and how some overly friendly white women had a tendency to walk up to her in the grocery store checkout line and say: “Ooohh, your dreads are so beautiful, can I touch ‘em?” (Um, NO..Do you see me asking to touch YOUR head complete stranger?)
She got tired of feeling like she was always ‘sticking out’ or something.. and even when people were complimenting her hair or her clothes or her style…it became a reminder of being seen as somehow different (even if it was couched in a compliment on her lovely long hair).

She’s recently moved back to Atlanta – where she is not a minority and where she is surrounded by family and friends. While it’s not all perfect..she is at “home” there..perhaps more so than she was here in MN. While I miss her terribly..I’m happy that she’s happy.. (and besides, I travel a lot for business so I’ll see her every time I go through ATL).

As you might be able to guess from my avatar I am, like @jerv, a pasty white geek.
While I really feel for you that you’ve gone through life this far taking abuse from people with the same racial background (and that blows my mind, honestly)...know that you’re far from alone. I live in a total redneck area and people around me really don’t “get” my interests, either.
My husband and I once drove from our relatively rural (like I said, pretty dang redneck) part of town into Mpls and went to a live MPR show—a taping of “This American Life” with Ira Glass..and as we walked into the theater to take our seats looked around in shock as we found ourselves surrounded by “our people”. (And we both got a bit verklempt and said: “Our people! There are actually people like us!”)

I have another good friend (a black man in his early 40s) who’s in the same situation as you.. plus my girl friend from ATL…so you need to find these kindred souls.

And, as @uberbatman points out..moving from IA to TX isn’t exactly going to help you find the most open minded folks.. (tho, I think Austin, TX would be an exception to the above comment…)

Here’s what I recommend.. make a list of your values and your interests. Get involved with those things (be it tutoring folks for literacy, Political action groups, volunteering in your community) and strike up conversations with people from any and all walks of life.

You may find your new best friend is a half-Thai, half-Czech woman who grew up in Ohio being pissed off by people incorrectly calling her “Chinese” all the time.

If you really don’t mind being friends with folks of any and all racial backgrounds—just go out for what you feel passionate about and find friends who share your passion.

If you’re looking for other black folks to get over their predisposition to judge you based on the way you talk…you might try Atlanta. It’s a big city filled with a lot of educated and successful professionals AND it has a bit more diversity…so odds are a lot better than in IA or Texas that you’d find some kindred souls.

zensky's avatar

Well, Fluther is a society and we’re colour blind.

RocketGuy's avatar

Come to the SF Bay area – you would fit right in.

Shippy's avatar

Welcome to Fluther! I probably have the least helpful advice because to me, it is a question of “Do I like them?” “Do I accept them?”

Being 40 brings gifts, gifts of wisdom, insight, and a sense of self. You are not on earth to fit in. You are here to bring your own special brand of “you”. That is what makes life interesting.

Stop focusing on your color and being betwixt and between. You are you, color has no bearing on that.

KingCupcake's avatar

go out and have some fun, all the crap from your child hood and school is gone, you don’t have to worry about it anymore, im sorry to hear about your past,

your not in school anymore and those bullies should be out of your life by now, go out and find a hobby/club that interests you. don’t sit at home miserable because of what some low life jerks did to you as a kid. go out there and be the best you :)

janbb's avatar

As others have suggested, maybe you are living in the wrong part of the country to find your niche. You don’t say what your profession is, but perhaps a liberal city like Cambridge, Mass. Or Oakland, Ca would be a place you could find acceptance and friendship.

And welcome to Fluther! We delight in literate people of all stripes. Feel free to use us as a sounding board.

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