A Few days ago I attended an event for the Black Community at my school. I took a photo with some black friends along with another multiracial women. The women insisted that the photographer do his best not to make her look “too light”. After taking the photo it was pointed out that she wasn’t even the lightest one in the photo, I was. The woman looked at me and said “Well that’s what tan in a can is for.” I gave a giggle not really knowing how to respond. I knew that her comment bothered me, but I didn’t know why. I’ve made jokes about tanning, I’ve had serious conversations about tanning. I’ve thought about her comment everyday since then and it wasn’t until a couple of hours ago that I began to articulate my frustration with her comment. It’s much like the reason why I’ve never followed through with getting a tan. It’s not me.
I am the white girl with black friends. No wait I’m the black girl with white skin. No wait… what am I?
Too black for the white girls, too white for the black girls. I’ll never know what it feels like to be told “You’re pretty for a dark skin girl”. I’ll never know what it feels like to live far from the consciousness of race. But, I am okay with the things that make whites and blacks uncomfortable with me because I am so much more. I am more than my white skin and big hair. I don’t owe anyone an explanation for my racial identity. I no longer feel obligated to answer my favorite childhood question, “Why are you white and your mom is black?” I am much more than the racial divides that society uses to categorize me. I am White Skin and Freckles, I am Big Curly Hair, I am Christian, I am Sarcasm, I am Deep Thought, I am Laughter, I am Scholastic, I am Sacrifice, I am Growth.
No photo or lighting could ever capture all that I am, no tan in a can will add to who I am, and society will not limit what I am. My frustration was with the fact that another person expected me to want to work harder to fit into one racial category over another. My reality is that no one can take away from my black experience and I cannot deny the privileges of my white heritage. But, I am finally learning that I am more.