She’s White in a Black body….

IMAG1257_1Cooper Shell,
Jackson, TN.

She’s White in a Black Body…..
That is what has ALWAYS been said to describe me—since I was at least 12 years old. My name is Cooper Shell, and I grew up in Choctaw County, MS. I hail from a blended family which is very typical in my town. I suppose that I should dress, speak, and behave in a certain manner because I am an African American female in the deep South; I don’t…at least not in the manner most people expect. I prefer to wear business suits, pearls, and pumps; Paramore is one of my favorite bands. My natural hair has always looked more like a weave, and I am incredibly articulate. However, society says that I should wear Jordans and Sean Jean, aspire to be Beyonce while dancing to Lil Wayne, and wear weaves as I speak the latest slang and broken English. I had African American and Caucasian friends as a child and teenager. But apparently my speech and preferences just seemed to be more “White” than “Black”. As an adult, I have gotten quite use to my clients and business contacts assuming I am male because of my name. However, I am never prepared for the awkward stammers, stares, and hearing “Are you sure you’re Cooper?” once those people finally meet me face to face. It is even more disheartening to meet people who make incredibly racist comments on the phone, only to learn they were speaking to a “Black” all along.

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