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What I liked about my very first lesson on race
Mon, 2011-11-07 11:28
When I was very young, I was totally oblivious to the notion of race and the status/standards of skin tones. It wasn't until summer vacation, when I was 12 years old, that this was brought to light.
Every summer, My sister and I would visit my grandmother in West Palm Beach, FL. For about 4 consecutive years, my sister and I developed friendships with two girls who lived across the street from my grandmother. for the sake of this blog, i will name the girls Jane and Kathy. Every summer, Jane and Cathy would greet me and my sister the first night we arrive because we look forward to another summer full of fun, games, adventures and simply catching up. The four of us were tomboys, so we were always into something that didn't include dolls. I will never forget my last summer visit. I was pretty bummed out because, this time, Kathy was never around whenever the three of us got together. All Jane would say is that Kathy just didn't feel like playing that day. One afternoon, I looked out my grandmother's window and was delighted to see Kathy out, with her family and with a little pool in her front yard. I was so excited that I called Jane and I told my sister to her swimsuit ready. However Jane displayed an unnatural caution. She said "Let me ask Kathy if you two can come over." This troubled me, but I went along with it and said okay. When we've received the okay for the four of us to get together again and to hang out in her front yard pool I was ecstatic. the four of us were together again, however, it was unusually quite between us. Kathy wouldn't speak to me and my sis and would only talk to Jane in whispers. I was so frustrated that I asked, "Why are you whispering? We've never kept secrets. What ever you're saying, you can say in front of me and my sister." Jane saw that I was clearly upset and said that we should leave Kathy's place and go over to her house. Upon arrival to Jane's house, Jane's parents prepared our lunch. At the table, I've noticed that Jane's parents were very careful when they spoke to me and my sister. They asked about our experience at Kathy's house and I admitted that it was great to see Kathy again, but it bothered me that she didn't say a word to me and my sis, but spoke only to Jane. That's when Jane and her parents revealed that Kathy didn't want to talk to me and my sis because we were Black. At first, I thought it was a joke, because I've never heard of that color used towards a person. I especially found this absurd because we've been friends for so long, I didn't understand what color had to do with our friendship. Her parents kept saying to me, "Kathy doesn't like you because you're skin color is black". Out of anger, I took Jane's box of crayons and I took out the colors brown and black and I yelled at her parents saying, "This is Black. It's labeled it right here! This crayon is Brown! See!" and I've put the two crayons against my skin and said "My skin color is brown not black!" But Jane's parents were relentless in their constant drilling to me that I'm black. I left that night to my grandmother's house extremely angry.
The next morning, my grandmother drove me and my sister to the mall because she wanted us to see how certain people reacted to our presence. There was an indoor jungle gym. Everywhere my sister and I played, their parents would come and stand in between us and their child. If we spoke to the child, their parent(s) would take their children away from us. Although this was a paradigm that new to me, it was very revealing. And as I got older, it became even more real. But it also became ore absurd.
It is now 2011 and race is still a quiet shame harbored in individual cities. Especially here in NYC. Different races handle friendships with AAs through stereotypes. Friendships with AA women is never without some sort of stereotypical phrase and behavior known to black women and friendships with BM are never without the usual "pound" greeting, a "Hey, wha'd up Bro!?" or the all time fav "What's up my N***!?" I'm sure no one sees any harm in this because it is simply a show of comradeship. But is all of that really a necessary to display? My struggle is in the dating scene. I would like to broaden myself culturally and date outside of my race. However this seems impossible because every man looks for a woman that has some sort of Caucasian aesthetic. I would be prettier if I were lighter skinned. Okay, I'm not light-skinned, but I should at least have long straight hair (weaves are ok). Ok.. Not light-skinned and you don natural hair? Hmm.. do you at least have a small nose and big boobs? Since I don't have any of these qualities, should I see myself as ugly and undesirable? Well, this has been my struggle for a long time.
I became interested in Asian men because I find them very attractive and because they have a very quiet and conservative demeanor. However, in looking at pictures of Blasian couples, the women matched at least one of the aforementioned qualities.
I am grateful for what I have and am now currently experiencing, because it sets the stage for a major internal transformation in the realms of self love and possibilities. Will my aesthetics hinder my chance for love. Maybe. Maybe not. But my mindset and my views about myself will. This will be an interesting journey. Thanks for reading.