I came into work this morning with mixed feelings about my race.
Mr. _____ passes me with a sleepy smile—he’s the guy with dark skin and dreadlocks who asked me out a few months ago. I never did give him an answer, but my friendliness began to dwindle, and I took a different route to my car to avoid running into him so often.
Not for lack of interest did I fail to respond to his invitation, rather it was the deficiency of readiness to pursue a relationship with a total stranger. He still smiles at me, breathing a quiet “good morning,” and I walk away wondering why black guys are so much bolder than others.
The office door knob flashes green to let me in and I shuffle over stained carpet. The phones are already ringing and I hear my black coworkers making jokes. Their animation fills the dimly lit office with a vibrant energy. The girls flip their weave back and forth in a shiny, glossy wave of beauty. As I watch I can’t help but feel like the minority among them. When I make it to the office fridge and stuff my lunch inside, I remember that my skin is brown like theirs’ and I share something with them, a race if you want to call it that.
But this is when I realize a desire mixed with confusion. What I speak of is a wonder at why I don’t relate to black people and a want for acceptance among them. Sometimes I consider what it’s like to be white. Perhaps then I could fully ascertain the difference between me and my black coworkers. For if I were white, I might not feel an urge to identify with them merely because we share the same color. Instead of trying to relate but not knowing how, I could attribute our racial difference as reason enough for a loss of relativity.
For shame, I know. A shame to my people, for whom I’ve contributed the statistics of surviving teen pregnancy, graduating college, and staying employed. Why can’t I just accept my blackness? Perhaps because I am still fifty percent white, brought up in a white society, reading books about little white girls.
I sit down at my desk and feel my ironed hair brushing against my shoulders. As my coffee begins to brew in the little pot on my desk, I think about why I want to be white, or more why I forget that I’m black. My dialect, my mannerisms, my clothes, and make-up all seem to express an affinity to whiteness. But my mind is exonerated when I see the skin covering my body, when I sit beside a white girl and realize, no I’m not white. Almost part of the majority culture, but categorized as other considering the melanin that colors my skin, I falter back and forth. To whom do I belong?
Fifty percent of either race feels significant until I try to be a hundred percent of one or the other. A small dilemma in a complicated world, but I wonder if this is a struggle for any multiracial individual raised in one culture trying to identify with another.