What do you want me to say? I’m American. My family’s American. We have been for hundreds of years. But no one believes me.
I was like him. I was not like my mother who was dead. I was like him. He was alive.
Growing up in Antwerp as the daughter of a Jewish mother and a Muslim-born Senegalese father, I was aware of being Jewish. My mother took me to her side of the family for holidays, she taught me Hebrew songs, and we went to the synagogue once in a while. But I was more aware that my skin tone was brown. Other children made sure I knew. They made racist remarks and teased me.
There can exist a great schism between who you are, and what others think you are. To the people who questioned me, it didn’t matter what I really was, or even what I thought I was; all that mattered was what they perceived me to be. Since my answer often cradled two or more categories, it was deemed incorrect, and the person would classify me in whichever bucket satisfied their preference.