Saturday, April 25, 2009

My teacher asked me to write something about issues as a result of my ethnicity...this is what I spit out

The blood runs through my veins, of those who know the feeling of being enslaved and held captive, unsure about the future, wondering why they have been subjected to such unruly and savage circumstances against their will. Events that occurred in history, a time frame going as far back as 1619 when a Dutch ship brought the first slaves from Africa to the shore of North America. My people faced existence on the border between two places, home in Africa and the new place of America that brought pain and affliction. A struggle of a people that even present day continues through a blindfold of a naïve America that believes we are all truly equal, judged only on our skills and intellect instead of our history and racial background.

I reside at a predominately white school surrounded by a percentage of the black community that is ultimately less than. I try to relate to lectures on authors and heroes of whom none look like me. A mixed father and black mother leaves me confused as to which history I should identify with, or if I can even categorize myself. The idea of binary thinking has now become an issue of race, assuming now that I am to make a choice. “You’re so light? Are you white or black?” Without effectively embracing both sides of my culture, I am constrained and therefore fit evenly into no category at all. It can seem troubling to fully embrace a white culture without leaving behind my black community that I identify with on an everyday basis. My African heritage is the only part of myself that is noticed and recorded as I try to prove myself and work to my greatest potential just to be considered. My existence in a black and white world is questioned as I am left in confusion at which box to check on my standardized test.

A feeling of ambivalence as I portray the image of an educated black female whose knowledge is only relevant if I have a silenced tongue of proper english. Participating in a conversation with a childhood friend from my hometown of Philadelphia, who says “Wassup girl” instead of “Hello madam” makes me less educated or informed about Shakespeare? Interests in the works of Toni Morrison and Sonia Sanchez leave my Italian grandmother at a loss for words, as she struggles to understand the concepts and issues facing my people. I fell optimistic about music and what songs and artists serve as a representation of my mixed background and what I believe in. As I get older my history becomes more valued, representing a piece of myself that I need to break down in order to understand the ideals and characteristics I posses.

I belong to a culture consisting of black men, who can be oblivious to their opportunities and blame misfortunes on the color of their skin instead of their nonexistence of goals and lack of hard work. This community of hope is mine, as the black man reevaluates his potential and what he can achieve when he sees someone of his own color become president. This history of slavery and banishment from white society because of his race has left the black man pessimistic about what he can truly achieve, and leaves me at a standstill wondering how far my knowledge can get me, in comparison to how far my mixed heritage will hold me back. I am stuck between two different groups of people, relating to my African heritage because I am judged solely on it. Though I see both the white and black sides of myself, society is unsure, leaving me unable to build bridges across cultures in an effectual way. The only way I can move forward is to embrace both races, leaving the negative views and feelings that society pushes toward me aside. Thinking independently will eventually allow me to be united in myself and effective in both the black and white community.

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