This is me and my father. He taught me in direct and indirect ways about racism, specifically racism impacting Black folks. He said he didn’t start experiencing racism until he moved to California (from East Orange, New Jersey). I translated that into maybe you didn’t notice because you were the youngest surrounded by Black Middle class people of varying colors. But I don’t know. He also said he left before it went to hell, so perhaps this is true. At 18 he was across the country starting at a community college. After transferring, he met my mother. The rest is history.
The story of my parents and their parents etc… is something I’ve had to piece together over the years and it looks like Swiss cheese. The family trees exist but no one labeled their ethnicity and color. Both sides of my family are mixed and that’s that. No one could keep their hands out the melting pot. My parents breakdown is on ancestry.com.
What I’d like to address is the conversation around colorism. I am keenly aware of my place in communities, which tends to be on the periphery. That’s partially my fault and the experience of rejection and assumption on the part of others. The only community to embrace me (growing up in California) was the Black community. This included people who identified as Black or Biracial or Mixed. It was clear, by my features, that I was some off version of Anglo and no white people took me into the fold. I had family that happily passed and family that are still called jigaboo. I saw something going on around me that wasn’t right.
When you have that moment of someone questioning whether or not your parent is your bio parent or your sibling shares the same parents because you are different colors, you experience a level of shock that isn’t widely understood. This is not to offend anyone who is adopted. That experience deserves its own article. It’s knowing that there are times it looks like an adult has kidnapped a child because they don’t share the same color. But I have the nose.
The nose that Halle Berry and J-Lo used to have that spreads just so. Wide enough to not be quite white. Catherine Zeta-Jones back in the day. That nose that you can contour out of existence.
I get it. I absolutely have privilege due to my color. And I’m not about that life. I can’t go around complaining about how I’m treated when I want to be accepted in the Black community. I have to be an example of a fierce and loyal ally. Usually, because I’m racially ambiguous, people will make inappropriate comments about non-Black or Black PoC and they are caught off guard when I confront them. Then they whisper to the next person “what is she?”
SHE is tired of hearing other fair skinned people whine about belonging. Many of us don’t feel like we belong and it’s deeper than being accepted by an entire diaspora. WE need to have the backs of darker skinned Black womxn when silly people have the audacity to question their agency, intelligence, or beauty. WE have to stop feeling betrayed and start showing unconditional alliance with our sisters. It’s not about our feelings…it’s about OUR feelings. OUR future trajectory. Place these sick cis het men to the side and represent for self/respect.
I was able to start college because I received several scholarships. The majority from Black institutions. Ironically, the Deltas and the AKAs gave me money to go to school. One of my BAs is in Black Studies and, to me, that was knowledge I was always supposed to have and share. The One Drop Rule made this possible.
I’m not a fetish. I’m not a victim. I’m no more easily molded than any other angry womxn out here. Trust and believe these men who require light or white to feel right reveal these insecurities and show that their own identities are stunted and damaged. Evolve. Be aware of what that means if you are with such a man. I once was Black enough to help a partner keep their Black Card and light enough to assuage their ego. I’m not the U.N.