I’m a mixed woman. I’ve been fortunate enough to grow up in a nice neighbor, in a nice suburban middle-class town, with nice parents, like the nice little mixed Jewish girl I am.
I’ve been called an “Oreo” by little kids who didn’t know that it doesn’t mean mixed Black and White, but really a more hurtful meaning, Black on the outside White on the inside.
I’ve been called “High Yellow” by men who thought it was funny and people in college who used it to determine which Black Sorority I would pledge.
I’ve been called “Light Skinned” by family who used it as a slam and by people who thought it was a compliment that I could “pass as anything”.
I’ve been told I can’t be Jewish because I’m Black – I still don’t understand how people don’t get that Judaism is a religion where as being Black is part of my ethnicity.
I’ve been told there are things I wouldn’t get to do cause I’m a woman. I’ve been told I’m part White so I couldn’t get any exceptions or help. I grew up privileged but faced questions about who I was and which groups I belonged to for years. I’ve never had a chance to be anything but me. From a young age I remember never being ok to just check one box – I even got in trouble in school once because I felt it wasn’t fair or right that I should only be allowed to say one since I loved both my parents. My cousins are all darker and most friends that are Black certainly are. That’s what makes us beautiful – all the various shades of every person.
I get a lot of confusion on my race but what I have never once in my life done is lie about it. I have never pretended who I am because I’m a proud woman who is lucky to come from a rich storied background. I’m proud of every scar I have as a child that I didn’t even know was one. I’m proud of every accomplishment I’ve had because, yes I did come from privilege and yes I was given chances some others may not have had but I was still questioned on my ability, my wisdom, my talent simply because the color of my skin. People can’t be sure my background so they can’t peg me in a hole and for that, I’m happy to be in every box. I’m happy to represent for who I am.
All that still holds true as a I continue to try and raise up in my professional career and personal life. I have always known that I was the only BIPOC in some friends lives and really the only Black person some people know. That’s unfortunate for them but I hold on to that and remind myself that if I can represent what being Black in America looks like to those people, I can help change preconceived notions and be an ear to hear questions. I’m proud to be mixed but America doesn’t always see me as anything but a light-skinned Black woman and I will stand proud knowing that.