Hi Readers, This guest post is by Lisa Kelly, who shares how learning about her family history led her to rename her White Grandma to White Indian Princess Grandma. And how labels cause her to think of how her daughter will respond to assertions about her race. XO, Dani When not slightly hunched over, my grandmother … Continue reading Bursting at the Seams
You admit to yourself that this is hard. You worry people will laugh. You worry he will get beaten on the subway. One of his friends, he tells you, was beaten on the subway. You fear you’re losing your father.
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.
In school, when I showed people pictures of my mother during show and tell, my classmates did a double take. They were in disbelief that a fair skinned woman gave birth to the little brown girl they saw in front of them. When I spoke Spanish with other Mexicans, I did not get any responses, just dirty looks and eye rolling. I wanted to know why I couldn’t be a Black girl and a Mexican girl at the same time.
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.
If you have curly hair, chances are you've been approached by a stranger asking to touch it. If you're Black, chances are that said stranger's hand was already in your hair before you could respond. Here are 10 ways to say no when someone asks to touch your hair.
Ignoring my outstretched hand, with money in it, he leaned over the counter coming closer to me and asked in English, "Why are you ashamed of your Dominican heritage?" To this, I replied curtly, for the man to allow me to purchase the beverage. "Sell mi de bloodclaat Guinness nah man!"
His paper skin reflected off my grandmother’s dark dark complexion. His head was a mound of sleek red waves, hers a thick black halo. Oil and water. Black and white. They were not expected to merge.
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.