Some of you may be wondering why I haven’t had much to say online about race relations and the upheaval that is being brought to light at this time (yes, it has always been there, it is only now that it is being dredged up to the surface where we are all forced to look at it.)
Please allow me to explain my near silence.
As a woman of mixed racial heritage, I have a unique perspective, and a unique voice.
Speaking out about racism is good. Using your words to broadcast that you are an advocate is good, and can help oppressed peoples feel that they have allies.
But, rather than say something, I have chosen to BE something.
I am the embodiment of diversity. I am a living example of racial harmony, of the conquering of generations of hate and prejudice, of the slaying of fear, of the shifting of the tides.
I am the bridge between the shores of love and a roiling sea of hate.
I embody the energy of not one, but TWO warrior families, conquerors that chose to lock horns with the beast of racism, wrestle it to the ground and kick its ass in the most complete and elegant way possible.
By what and who they chose to BE.
My mother’s family had donned the red streak of prejudice for generations. That streak was wiped away with the arrival of 4 siblings who decided that IT STOPS HERE WITH ME. Each of these seemingly ordinary white Americans chose to defy their generational imprints and not only accept people of color, but to marry or bond outside their race. Each chose to celebrate and honor differences, and because of their courage, the family line is now imbued with the blood and energy of Polynesian people, African people, and Asian people.
My father’s ancestors came from many places of origin; some were brought here as slaves from Africa, others came from Asian cultures, and others were of European decent. My grandfather, with deep brown skin, high cheekbones and scalding eyes that looked right through you. My grandmother, fair skinned with black hair falling in perfect ringlets and eyes that slanted nearly shut when she smiled. These two mulattos came together in a little house in poverty-stricken rural Alabama at a time when racial tension in the south ran highest. They brought forth 12 children, representing every shade of beautiful, embodying not only the clash between races, but the hope that after the clash we could come to live beside each other, and within each other, in harmony.
My ancestors didn’t talk about racism, they simply ended it with their love.
And so, here I am, a glorious mutt.
I love the fact that I am a bridge person. People can’t get a lock on me, can’t put a finger on my identity. They look at me and I can see their wheels turning, the internal mechanism that would analyze, judge, and file me away in a box gets hung up, cannot compute.
I defy categorization, and that alone both delights me and makes some people very uncomfortable.
In the winter, I am as fair as any German or Swede in my mother’s bloodline, and the low humidity allows me to wear my long hair straight. During these times, people who don’t know me see me as a white girl. They say things they would only say to a white person, they make jokes they would not make around a brown woman, they think of me as different, or they think of me as the same. In actuality, I am neither.
And in the summer, the sun turns me brown and the high humidity crowns me with a halo of frizzy, kinky curls that announces to the world that I am not a white girl. People look my way and cock their heads. I get dirty looks from some, curious glances from others. People often ask, “what ARE you?” as if they’d just seen a bubble-headed alien from another star system. At the sight of me, some people are confused and uncertain, but they run their mouths despite. They still make assumptions and judgements. They still try to shove me in a box and decide whether I am different from them, or the same.
They try in vain to determine what side I am on even as I embody the concept that THERE ARE NO SIDES, only shades.
Despite my ethnic ambiguity, I have often found myself in tense racial situations. I have feared incarceration because white cops in northern Florida did not like the brown friends with whom I traveled. I have been called nigger lover, I have received hateful glances and comments from brown women who disapproved of my union with a brown man, and I am certain there have been times when I enjoyed white privilege and was unaware that it even happened.
I have watched my brown brothers and sisters culturally and socially “lighten” themselves to fit into certain communities, and I have watched my white brothers and sisters take on the culture of brown people in an attempt to separate themselves from their blood culture and find their own way of being.
I believe in preserving and advancing culture. I believe in recognizing and celebrating differences. But there is a difference between equality and homogenization. I think the idea of promoting color blindness is naive and short sighted. We have differences that deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated. We have differences that make us beautiful and perfect, and are there to unite us in appreciation, rather than divide us in fear and hate.
People are still being discriminated against, harassed, abused and murdered, but we are now witnessing the birthing pains of great change.
What you say in this pivotal time is important, but what you choose to BE is what makes the difference between contributing to global transformation, and contributing to ineffectual static and noise.
Are you stomping around in the river, shouting at everyone to look at the muddy water, to be outraged about the muddy water, and to clean up the muddy water, while all along your own agitation postpones clarity?
Are you contributing to love, or to hate?
As the call for balance is being sounded, what are you amplifying?
Will you amplify the frequencies of hate, fear and anger, or will you amplify love, cooperation and harmony?
Chose wisely. This new world is ours to create.