Bronze Images: Negotiating a Biracial Identity in an Unforgiving World

by Deidra Suwanee Dees

I looked into the mirror today, smiling for a change, wondering what it would reveal. I noticed the ripples in the bronze-colored wrinkles beside my eyes delineating the signs of wisdom that only age can bring. The mirror reminds me I will turn a year older this season, a reminder that I have traveled a long way from the reluctant womb that was a receptacle for my entrance into this world, the reluctant womb that gave me up because I was a biracial birth. Because I did not have a fit mother as many other biracial children had, I’ve been coerced to find things out on my own that I otherwise would have known. I find myself realizing I’ve spent all my life doing this... and wondering if I’ll spend the rest of however long I have left doing the same thing. How beneficial it would have been had I been taught the necessary life skills that come from a loving mother, skills I’ve had to scratch and claw for, by humiliating trial and error, fighting and struggling every step of the way; indeed, fighting against the womb that bore me.

Looking into the mirror, I asked, “How can I deal with all of this?” If I die like my vanilla-skinned daughter in a tragic auto-train accident, or if I die like my chocolate-skinned father in a head-on truck collision, what will be the moral of my story? That I scratched and clawed for nothing? That my copper-skinned life was worthless and “good for nothing” like the biological one who bore me used to say?

While these are plausible considerations, the mirror reveals to me there is some force inside me—a strong life force—that compels me forward, and even fancies at times bronze images of being somebody; images of me rising above what others see as unattractive mixed-race skin. Sometimes I sense reflections of greatness which I have relegated to a cry for significance from my inner clay-stained child. The one who was neglected, abused and rejected; the one who because of this can never be whole. I have become strong, my copper skin taut, by learning to live with the ever-present anguish of not being whole, while whole people have passed me by, enjoying their wholeness, unaware of my fragment.

Bronze Images: Negotiating a Biracial Identity in an Unforgiving World by Deidra Suwanee Dees

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