By: Akoiya Harris
Dear fellow People of Color,
Please don’t tell me I choose my black side. I did not choose anything, because just like you I was born black. My melanin may not be strong, but it is still something I was blessed to have not choose to have. Unlike our white counterparts, my tan skin did not come from a bottle it came from my parents, both of them.
Yes in fact, I am not just mixed with black and white but with black white and more black. Somehow my melanin did not come out as strong as it could have so I don’t look as black as my genetics says I am.
The phrase “choosing my blacker side” isn’t possible to me. It is one that I hear all too often yet still does not make sense. While black people may see me as white, white people will always see me as black. I would never want to be seen as anything else but black. I would just like for other black people to see my as black. I know white people see me as black.
I can tell from the looks in their eyes when I walk into Advanced Placement and Honors classes as one of the only people of color in the room. They look confused and make me feel like I entered the wrong room. I can tell when white kids double check my answers in math every time I have one. If the answer they come up with is wrong, they will stand by it because they don’t want a black girl to be smarter than them.
I can tell when I try inviting a white kid to my house but their parents don’t want them to come. Or when I do not get invited to sleepovers as a child because parents only said “certain people” could come. The list goes on and on. No matter how light my skin, white people will always see me as black.
I do understand that being light skin gives me many unfair advantages. I am not denying that. We are looked at as prizes among men of all races. The professional world respects us more than they do darker women. The music and entertainment industry uplifts us and makes us sex symbols. The educational world likes us because we might “blend in” better.
In middle school, I was told by a high school admissions officer that I was a perfect candidate for his school because I fit the standard for the type of girl they were looking for. At first I was flattered but as I got older, I realized that he did not want me because I was a smart young girl; I was wanted because I was black enough to help them fit a quota but not to black to disturb the look of the school. While lighter skinned men and woman get more advantages than darker skinned black people, white people still see us as black.
By no means do I want to be white. I am beyond proud of my blackness. I am grateful for everything my ancestors went through to get me in the position that I am today. I am proud of the fact my family, alongside many others, fought for their rights and looked for a better future.
While I do love my white side, I am not as close to them. The majority of my relatives are African American. I have grown up in black culture just as my darker skinned relatives did. The fact that I have some white in me only makes my less visually black not culturally.
By far, I am not saying that my struggle is greater than that of a dark skinned woman. I know that compared to you we have it easier and I am sorry for that. But at the same time, please don’t forget that we are still black. All shades of black lives matter. No matter how “white washed” we are, in the eyes of white America and our own, we will always be considered black. So please, don’t call me white skin, bright skin, or barely black because no matter how black, brown or tan I am, black is black,
Akoiya, a mixed girl.