My Blackness – A Poem

I show up with my mother and everyone is shook, I show up with my father and they don’t give a second look. But she’s white and I’m not, we mustn’t be related. Damn, that’s the type of thing that I have always hated. The looks and the glares, you think I can’t feel your despair? Sometimes hate is silent, but you always know when it is there.

I want to be a doctor and you laugh in my face, then you hand me some track spikes and tell me to go race. I speak on the problems that make my heart crack, but then you have the nerve to tell me, “you aren’t even black.” You scoff when I “bring up slavery and history again,” when you don’t even realize that there was no end.

No end to the brutality from those that protect us. No end to the fear and the severe lack of trust. No end to the comments, “is this your real hair? can i touch it?” Oh, and don’t forget, “how do you even brush ‘it’?” Frizzy. And big. Unruly. And nappy. But when you get a perm, it’s “perfect,” are you happy?

No end to the nerves when you meet someone’s parents. You dress to impress in hopes of earning their clearance. The thoughts racing through your mind, “do they know that I’m black? are they okay with that?” In fear that they might think your presence poses as an attack.

I’m not black enough, but I’m black when you need me. I’m black when I wear a hood and all of a sudden I am creepy. I’m black when you need a black friend to seem not racist. I’m black when the police ask me why I am around certain places. I’m black when you want to seem cultured and pure. But I’m not black enough when you think you can use the n-word. You say, “I forget you’re black,” as if that makes it okay? I don’t care how close we are, that is something that should never say, no matter the time or the day.

Slang from my mouth makes me hood and ghetto, but slang from yours makes you chill, on the down low. You think that I only listen to R&B and rap and when I say I am scared to get pulled over you say, “don’t overreact.” But tell me, do you feel your stomach churn at the news? When you hear the too familiar words,”black thug dies,” because I do. Or worry about your father or brother when they drive. And pray that they don’t get pulled over and make it home alive, rather than end up another lost black life. Do people around you roll your eyes, when you say that #BlackLivesMatter because you don’t want anyone else to die?

Do you find yourself stressed when you explain to your friends, if “All Lives Mattered,” then so many blacks wouldn’t be shot dead. They tell you, “it’s all in your head, there’s no issue,” can you say that to the mother crying over her son’s beaten dead body tissue? They don’t understand that we know that every cop isn’t bad, but some are corrupt and the fact that they can’t see that is sad.

You don’t sound black. Or act black. Or speak it. Or dress it. Can black not be calm? Classy? Or literate? You fear the progression of black all around you. You’re clenching your purse because of what? A tattoo? I raise a concern and that makes me sassy and rude. I dress how I feel confident, but anything I wear is lewd.

She’s light-skin, she’s mixed, she can’t say she’s black. Tell that to the people who’ve called me a nigger and laughed. Tell that to the security guard who put me outside, when my two fairer skinned friends got to stay inside. Tell that to the kids who stare at me in discomfort, when the word slave or racism is mentioned before us. Tell that to the high-school counselor that drove me away, from attending a college that was situated too close to Alabama one day.

The privilege I receive from my lighter toned black, is evident and real, but I will always be under attack. All black is beautiful and all black is assaulted. No matter the shade, society wants us all to be exhausted. My melanin is radiant and my curls are fucking fire. I have never and will never be an affirmative action hire.

I am smart and hard-working and earned my spot, not by fault. I land an achievement and all of a sudden everyone is salt. I will not fall prey to this self-fulfilling prophecy, that has succumbed too many living in this sad ass democracy. I’m black and I’m white and I’m bold and I’m bright. I’m everything you could ever want and I will not go down without a fight.

Being Biracial

New Years Eve, 2008

I am very proud to be a woman of a mixed ethnic background, or as many would say, biracial. I find myself struggling to choose the term that is most “politically correct,” because race itself, such as: black and white, is a social construction. As a society, we have racialized ourselves, and I’m not sure how that can be undone. For the sake of this blog, I will use the term biracial, white, and black because I find no offense to those terms. Also, I must say that I understand there are endless combinations that could make one biracial, but this is my experience as being a woman with Irish, Italian, and Northern Africa heritage.

May I also add that this is in no way me complaining about being biracial and the things that I deal with, I am simply giving personal insight on what it is like to be a person of mixed race. I feel that it is important to know peoples struggles because then you can understand them more. I can guarantee that there are several others with a similar ethnic background that have experienced and felt similar things than I have. So, please, store this information in your mind and take it into consideration in your daily life.

Christmas Eve, 2018

Honestly. Being biracial can be so confusing at times and all the terminology makes it even worse. “Black” has been used to refer to those of African descent, but it also refers to anyone with a dark skin tone. But then I am also a light skin because I am a “lighter black.” But I am also white because when asked of the race I am when I fill out papers that do not have the ‘more than one race’s’ option, I select ‘black/African American’ and ‘white.’ I have had people tell me that I am not black enough to call myself black, but also people laugh at me when I say that I am white. It is almost like you can never win sometimes. Then there is also the fact that although I am white, I do not experience white privilege; however, since I am “light skin,” I know that I do experience light-skin privilege at times. It really is just like you’re stuck in the middle.

Probably one of the most frustrating things is the way that much of society looks at my family. I could not count on both of my hands the amount of disapproving and dirty looks that we have gotten from people in public. For some reason, in 2019, there are still people who think that “colors should not mix,” but let me tell you something, the world is not a fucking washing machine. I guess that these moments have made me love myself more and have pushed me to be proud of who I am. Sometimes, when I am feeling strong enough, I just take the negative energy and hate from others and use it to fuel my soul in hopes of some of my positive energy getting shared with those showing me the hate. Something else that I have had to deal with is hate from both sides of my ancestry. I have had dirty words and painful insults said to me from both those who identify as white and dark-skinned black people. I would have to say that it hurts more coming from the latter because what they don’t know is that I have experienced some of the discrimination that they have. That is something I never understood. Every group in this world that has been discriminated against at a large, social level should never show hate towards one another because we are all in the same damn boat and if we don’t band together and overcome, that damn boat is going to sink.

Palmer Campus Visit, 2018

If there is one thing that I would like to leave you with is that it doesn’t matter where someone came from or what they look like. If you love someone, then love them—and you should love everyone because at the end of the day we are all living this same confusing-ass life and we are more alike than we will ever be different. Appreciate and love all the beautiful diversity around you because one day, when your life ends, you want to be able to look back and think, “I was a person of love.”