“It was all an act,” Julia admitted, “and it still is in some form.”
Roman wanted to ask why she had to act that way but he already knew the answer. If he was truthful to himself, he was still playing a role.
“And I got the endless questions. Why do you talk like a white girl? Why don’t you talk black? Why do hang out with the whites so much? Why do you like Shawn Mendes?” Julia let out a sad chuckle. “As if I can’t like Shawn Mendes and Bryson Tiller at the same time?”
“And it’s funny…I was either too much of a white girl for the black kids or I was just right amount of black for the white kids. The black kids couldn’t understand how I came from a drug lord and yet, I can name just about every song on Britney Spears’ Blackout album. They don’t understand why I preferred shopping at Target, but I never wore FUBU.
“And the white kids…it wasn’t that much better. They automatically assumed I was a charity case and would talk to me in the way people do when someone died. They wanted to know what famous person I was related to because there’s no way my family could’ve possibly been able to enroll me in private school, you know?
“So I played my part. Brownsville got Jules, the hood chick, always dressed in her finest Rocawear. Morningside Heights got Julia, the preppy girl who loved Lana del Rey and Mariah Carey. I played the role of sassy girlfriend down pat. I was the go-to girl when there was a hip-hop discussion. Some even asked me to braid their hair like mine.
“I look back at that and I don’t think it’s weird. I might cringe a little at it now, but I have mostly fond memories. It’s only when something happens where the line in the sand is clearly drawn. Us versus them. And that line keeps getting drawn with each occurrence. First, it was Oscar. Then, it was Trayvon. Finally, it was Colin. Not to mention everyone in between.
“You then realize no matter how much you were down with them or how much they were down with you, they won’t be on the front lines. They won’t stand beside you. They love the hood culture, but they won’t go anywhere near Queens, Inglewood, or parts of Atlanta. They love the culture but they don’t necessarily love you.”
H.E.R will be out next Tuesday everywhere.
To read the first few chapters, click here.