I cringe every time someone says that an individual is acting “too white” or “too black”. Who set the standard for what is considered “white” or “black”? Is the fact that I speak in multi-syllabic, articulated sentences damning evidence that I have turned my cheek on my black heritage? Does my preference for chicken infer that I am, indeed, a black person? I identify with all of these notions and none of them concurrently. You see, I am gray. I am an eclectic mix of black, white, everything and nothing in between. I am undefined. And those three words are what give me definition.
I was born to a white mother and black father in 1979 when that wasn’t as commonplace as it is today. Especially in the towns of Brownwood and Comanche, Texas. My parents went to great lengths to hide their romance, but once a pale, kinky haired little girl came along, there was no denying it. Everyone told them that I would struggle in the world, have self esteem and identity crises that would never culminate to me being a well adjusted individual. Indeed, my mere existence was controversial. Fortunately, no one told me that in my early years, and I was none the wiser.
For a great part of my childhood, I assumed that mixed was a race and my color was tan. No one corrected me. Perhaps it was because I was so vivacious or maybe it was my in adherence to all things “standard”. Instead of this being a personal tragedy that my parents forced me into, it was an awesome opportunity at a life of individuality. I never identify myself with one race over the other, no matter how many times naysayers tell me that I must choose one. Why? It was chosen for me and those choices are a blended, beautiful mix. I do not check just one box on questionnaires and I will not check the one suspiciously marked “other”. I check both black and white… because that is exactly what I am.
I am able to identify with both heritages and recognize and appreciate what is different about them and what is wonderful about each. I have the added bonus of being able to identify with multi racial individuals, which brings along an entirely new version of heritage. I have bucked the system since conception and my journey through life has been no different. I have found self identification through being unidentifiable. I am asked daily what my ethnicity is and though some might be offended, I take this as a great compliment that I can physically represent more than one race in this world. I have made my differences my own. I am proud to tell you that there is no better color than gray for me. I am what I am and I own it.
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