Light Black in America

I am a product of African American girl meets Puerto Rican man sprinkled with Cherokee Indian. Until the age of six years old, I was oblivious to what I now know to be my ethnicity. Of course I recognized the different skin tones, but was made fully aware of my "blackness" when I was in the seventh grade. I can recall not getting an invitation to a slumber party being held by one of my Caucasian associates and being secretly informed by one of the other guests that would be attending that "I was not invited because I had a black family."

I had two groups of friends, a Caucasian crowd and an African American circle, both sets had me continuously struggling to strengthen my self-esteem and contemplating my identity. During my younger years, I thought we were all equal. I quickly learned during my adolescent years that the intent may have been that "all men are created equal" but I think it's more accurate to believe that most people attribute equality to like for like within social status, income, position, education and background. The more your life is aligned with mine, the more we become equals.

Sometimes I wonder how many compliments (from males or females,) traffic tickets I've avoided, preferred treatment or promotions I received were as a result of being "Light black in America." One thing I've noticed through the years is there is no in-between treatment toward the fairer skin. Most people will either give you preferred approval or discriminatory rejection solely based on your skin tone. I've been both a victim and a victor of being "Light Black in America."

Life's experiences can be traumatizing, rewarding and or fulfilling. I can recall being selected to play Snow White for my elementary school play. I also vividly remember losing a good friend because of the drama teacher's selection. Truth be told, my friend was better than I was in acting class, however, I guess I "looked" more the part. Throughout grade school, I was often selected for various plays, pageants and received preferred treatment. Now that I'm an adult and can reflect back with wisdom, I know that it was mostly due to my complexion. Yes, I went to a fine arts elementary school, so I did have talent. However, I can honestly say that the majority of the time my competition should have been selected.

America is color-struck. I think that some people promote, elect and hire fair-skinned individuals to make them feel like diversity, equality and justice is fair across the board to everyone. Recently I had a discussion with a group of people concerning a comment about "superheroes being white" and therefore should not be portrayed by African Americans. Why is that even a topic of interest? In my opinion, it's shallow, unmerited and a weak excuse to cover up a prejudice within an individual who clearly does not value all human life.

Black is the new victim. Actually, it has always been a victim. It is considered to be grim, unappealing, negative, scary, uneducated, lazy, rebellious and less-than. Even though I am fair-skinned, I have encountered sad situations that have grouped me into the "Black in America" stereotype. On more than one occasion, there have been those that have mistaken me for Caucasian and after I reveal my proud black heritage, they have a change in demeanor. I'm aware of the "one drop" policy. It amuses me.

If I had a penny for every time I have been asked "what am I," I'd be a millionaire. My response is why does it matter? If you are going to befriend me, do so. If you are going to hire me, what difference does it make regarding my ethnicity? If you want to award me the part in a play, do it because I am the best choice for the part. Some may think that being lighter in complexion has its rewards. I beg to differ. My issues, struggles, anguish and concerns are no different. There will always be those that have a superiority complex and think that they are better due to their skin-tone. The best ways to handle bullying, racism and negativity is to succeed, exceed and proceed. That is exactly what THIS "Light Black in America" is resolved to do every day.

© Copyright 2015, Stone
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