Not defined by Color

Alysha - Fishers, Indiana
Entered on September 22, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: race

After a seemingly never-ending forty-five minutes in Spanish, I escaped into my high school hallway amidst the post-freedom bell Diaspora of students, soon this freedom was cut short. A group of students stopped me and asked something that I will never forget, “Hey aren’t you that black girl that acts white?” Shocked by this question and ready to explode all over them for this completely ignorant inquiry, I kept my composure and said, “I’ll tell you the answer to your question when you can tell me what acting ‘white’ is.” I look back on that day quite frequently and the thought (or lack thereof) of their question still baffles me. Why would someone ask me that question, and what exactly what does it mean to act “white” or to act “black”? People do not fall into any non-demographic categories based on race, what people see as acting “black” or acting “white” is a stereotype dumped on a person by the media and their past experiences. I believe the color of your skin does not define who you are; rather your character is defined through the way you elect to live your life and through your impact on others.

In the years since, I have grown a mild tolerance to this line of questioning and it doesn’t affect me as it did the first time I heard it; partially because I have heard it more frequently and partially because I understand where people are coming from… ignorance. All the same, I think that it is absurd that I should have to get use to something like that. There is going to be a point when I can walk into a room and not be seen as African American, but as an American because that’s who I am. I will not be stuck in the past or believe that if it looks cool on T.V. then that’s the way I should act or “if the rappers can do it then so can I.” Reading a good book, speaking proper English, and doing well in school does not mean that I am acting in any way other than as a person with a desire to learn, a grasp of my own language, and a future.

Yes, my skin is brown, but I was born that way. The doctors didn’t ask me what color I wanted to be as they cut the umbilical cord. I should not have to dumb it down or change the way I act or speak to appease the ideas of those people that refuse to accept me as I am. Each person is their own person and their skin color does not define who they are. My skin color is not who I am, how I act, or behave it is just simply the skin color God blessed me with. Does a person’s hair color define who they are? Does a person’s eye color sum them up? Can a person’s character be measured in inches?