I am a mixed-race woman in America. My dad is black and my mom is white. I’ve spent my entire life trying to navigate my racial identity as a person who is two things at once. But because of my skin color, I don’t seem to be on this journey alone. There have been so many times, too many to count, where I have been made to feel like I was not black enough. From how I would dress, to what music I listened to, to how I wear my hair. But somehow… somehow I am also not white enough. I’m not white enough because of how I dress, what music I listen to and how I wear my hair.
Now, with all that in mind, I am fully aware of the privileges I have been given because of how I was raised; for what my parents have been able to provide for me and my brother. I always had money for lunch and summer camps to attend. I went to a good University and got a college education. I have a good job and I can afford my rent. I have parents who can financially support me if needed, or if it’s not needed. I grew up in a house that has always felt like a home. I know I am privileged in many ways. But the one way in which I am not privileged is that of White Privilege.
I don’t have the privilege of learning about race instead of experiencing it. I have been the only friend of color. The only roommate of color. The only family of color in the neighborhood. The only coworker of color. The only woman of color. I have been the only person of color in that entire room. I have joked with my black friends or family about getting seated in the back of a restaurant, only to understand that that joke is not actually a joke. I have walked into a room and immediately started counting how many people of color there are only to be able to account for them on 1 hand.
I identity myself as black, but not every else does. I have so many unwanted passengers on this journey with me that it can become nearly impossible to navigate where I’m going. I have had people randomly come up to me and start speaking to me in Spanish because they assume I am Latina. They don’t assume that I am black. I have had people talk about my race to my face and behind my back. People look at me and they can’t immediately put me into a box or put a label on me.
But by questioning my race/ethnicity, you are taking away my identity. It is mine and mine alone and I am taking it back. You don’t get to question it. Just like you don’t get to question why black people all over the country are protesting. Or wonder why our peaceful protests can turn into violence. Possessions can be replaced, human lives cannot. I am saying this all so that you will hear me and I hope that you are listening.
Because of my mother, my extraordinary mother, I am white. And because I am white, I am told that my life matters by default. But because of my equally extraordinary father, I am also black. And guess what, my life still matters. I stand with every single person out there who is educating, protesting, listening, speaking, petitioning and voting. I stand with every single person risking their lives to create a better tomorrow. And I hope you stand with me.
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