By: Nadira Jamerson
When I was younger and people would ask me what ethnicity I was, I would always made sure to tell them that I was mixed-”Oh, I’m half Mexican, part Irish, part Native American and black.” The truth was, I am not half Mexican and even if I do have some Irish or Native American blood, it is so little that not even my great, great grandmother would identify as either.
Still, those were the ethnicities I claimed, always making an effort to stress these characteristics of myself and only add “black” to the end as a sort of footnote (I probably wouldn’t have even mentioned being black at all if it wasn’t already obvious because of the color of my skin). I claimed these diffident ethnicities during my ‘conformist’ years which lasted from about sixth grade to my freshman year in high school.
It wasn’t until the second semester of my sophomore year of high school that I began to enjoy being black. I started to want to know more about myself and my culture; I started following more black excellence pages on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. It was also around this time that and I started loving and wearing my natural, curly hair.
I was so much happier with my life, until I began to notice how my inner change caused others around me to change as well, and it was not for the better. Boys, especially, began to act different towards me. In past years, boys always wanted to be with me. They would walk me to class, ask my friends about me, and try to take me on dates.
I seemed to always be in a relationship with someone, but when my transition started and I no longer wanted to pretend to be a whiter version of myself, boys no longer wanted to be around me. It wasn’t that they disappeared completely from my life it just became that they wanted their fondness of me to be a secret.
There was one boy, a white boy, that I went to school with (we’ll call him Sean for the sake of this article) who I liked-and sometimes believed I loved-more than any boy I had ever talked to or have talked to since. We had a sort of on-again-off-again relationship where he would text me every couple of months, talk to me for about a month or so, and then stop answering my texts for a while until a few months later when he would reach out to me again.
I knew the situation wasn’t perfect, but I thought it was enough to talk to him even if it was for a short while. During the times when we would talk, we would never actually speak at school. He would text me late at night after he got home from practice or after he was finished hanging out with his friends, and because he always texted me the sweetest things, I made myself look past the fact that every time I saw him at school he would turn away and pretend he didn’t know me.
I tried to convince myself that everything he did in public was okay, because he was everything I wanted in private. I tried to convince myself that maybe he was shy even though he talked to all of my white friends openly. I tried to convince myself that I wanted a “more private relationship.” I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t Sean’s secret.
It wasn’t until I heard that Sean had had sex with one of my closest white friends and did not mind if people knew, that I finally understood the truth of the situation. Sean could not date me because I was black and because I was proud to be black.
The night I found out about Sean and my friend I went home and cried for hours. I couldn’t even be mad at my friend because she had no idea I was in a “relationship” with him; no one knew. I thought all night about what I should do or if there was anything I even could do.
“Maybe I could just go back to how I was before, then he’d want me,” I thought. “Maybe I’ll straighten my hair tomorrow and remind him that I am pretty.” But when morning came and my sleep had refreshed my mind I decided that I would not do any of those things. I liked who I was becoming which was someone who was secure with who they are, someone who valued her ancestry and wanted to be a part of her magnificent culture. I couldn’t go back now, I already knew how good it felt to be a carefree black girl.
My story is not a unique one. I know that many of you are experiencing or have experienced this same difficult situation in your lives. It is a horrible realization when we start to notice that the people in our lives may look at us differently or treat us differently solely because of the color of our skin; it is even more horrible when those people are ones who we love dearly.
You must always remember, however, that their problems with you do not reflect who you are as an individual, it merely shows their inability to look past race and see the beautiful person you are inside. If you are facing a situation like this currently, no matter how difficult it may be, remember your self-worth.
Remember how you thought love was supposed to feel before everything became so complicated-it was supposed to make you happier; it was supposed to make you feel appreciated. If the love you are experiencing now does not provide you with those things, then remove it from your life. The only people worthy of being a part of your life are those who make it better and brighter.
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