Despite the fact I was born in the mid 80’s and racism wasn’t as prevalent during those times, as a child I still faced it every day.
My sister and I had to walk to take a bus to school which meant waiting at the bus stop and dealing with the Mexican children who thought they were better than us because we were black. Add that to the fact that I was mixed and had a hard time identifying with either of my racial backgrounds, being happy with my racial and cultural background was quite difficult, so difficult in fact that most days I wished I was white.
It’s true growing up during those times was significantly easier than what they were in the 70’s, but having to deal with kids throwing rocks at you because of what they perceived you were racially, made it difficult to be proud of my heritage.
It didn’t make it any easier to know that I just wasn’t black enough and I was considered ugly to my Asian relatives because my skin was too dark. As a result I spent the majority of childhood trying to fit in and desperately wanting to be accepted, even if it meant kissing ass or committing heinous acts because one of the “cool” kids told me I should.
Half of my childhood, I can say I don’t recall and I wonder if it’s due to the fact that my mind needs to repress memories that hurt too much to think about.
Now as an adult, while I can understand that as a child, mentality, I would never have been able to grasp that I was selling my soul and trading my dignity for a fleeting moment of bliss, I can’t help but be ashamed of who I was.
In some ways, I wish that I had been stronger and more courageous, but in other ways I know those trials helped me to be who I am today: strong, resilient, unwavering.
I can’t say that if I have children their trials will be any easier nor can I say that things will be different and the racism I faced will no longer exist. I can’t even promise that they won’t face the identity crisis and racial shame I experienced, but what I can say is that despite how they feel, what they think, or what they face, they are not alone.
I only wish there was someone who was around to make me feel the same.