I Believe the Color of My Skin Doesn’t Define Who I am

Kimberly - Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania
Entered on November 8, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Some believe that they can define a person based on their character and integrity. Others believe they can define a person based on the color of their skin. I believe the color of my skin doesn’t define who I am.

I remember when I realized I wasn’t like everyone else. I was in third grade, coming home on the school bus after a good day of classes and recess. When an older boy interrupted me while I was speaking and told me to “Shut Up, N*gg**.” I knew what that word meant. That word is such a big word; it has the capacity to hold so much hate and bigotry. I instantly cried and couldn’t wait until my stop. Once I reached my stop, I ran so fast to my house as if I could outrun that word and all its negativity. But it didn’t work; once I saw my father I started yelling at him “Why can’t I be white.” At that moment, my father explained to me that I should be proud to be different and that people are going to judge me because of what my parents and I look like. See, my mother is white and my father is black, which puts me in the middle of the spectrum.

After that moment on the school bus, more and more racial issues started happening. I don’t remember if racial issues happened before that day, but I can remember every incident after that day. There were times I wished I could be invisible, but in my hometown there were only four diverse kids (including me) in the whole town; needless to say my hometown is predominately white. In order for the pain of the racial slurs and jokes to go away, the only way to be invisible was to be white. But I thought of my father’s words and grew stronger against these slurs and jokes. I was never 100% confident; I played the tough girl like it was a role I was auditioning for in a school play.

Now at 21, I still battle with the ignorant slurs and jokes, but I realized that my color doesn’t define who I am. I am not white, I’m not black, I’m Kimberly. Some will look at me and judge me based on my color and think I’m another statistic or stereotype. But if they spoke with me for 10 minutes they would know that I attend Lock Haven University and have a 3.6 GPA and have ambitions to graduate with honors and later attend graduate school. But some people don’t have 10 minutes to spare, they look at me and see all the information they need to know. I hope there is a day that it doesn’t matter what color you are, but until then in the words of Dr. King, I hope they will not judge me based on the color of my skin but by the content of my character.