Mark All That Apply

I’ve talked about identity a few times in this blog, typically as it relates to Diabetes. But as I, and we try to remind everyone, it’s not just about Diabetes. Another example of finding identity, particularly with my own life is in race.

Just a heads up, I’m not going to start preaching or discussing inequality. No Kanye West “George Bush Hates Black People” in here. No mentions of Plymouth Rock, or any kind of Dreams I’ve had lately. No soapbox on this one, so calm down.

We cool? OK, good. Hopefully I can stay focused.

As you might have seen from the pictures from my sister’s graduation, I am biracial. My mom is from the Bronx, my dad a farm in Ohio. How they met in college is a wonderful mystery. Call it divine intervention, call it fate. Whatever you want to call it, I’m glad it happened (for obvious reasons).

Growing up I never really dealt with an internal struggle in self identity re: Race. I was black, and white. I never saw it as this complicated issue. The first time I had heard of the term “Jungle Fever” was on an episode of Fresh Prince, and even then I didn’t know what it meant.

Of course, just because I was so open minded didn’t mean that those pesky surveys were. Race/Ethnicity (mark one). Yea, mark one. Being a realist, I would always mark ‘Black’ or ‘African American.’ Quotas FTW. In my college application I marked ‘African American’ because I knew that a prospective engineering student (who happened to be Black) with a 3.7 would look better on the books than one who was White. It’s a sad truth. Of course that didn’t stop me from voicing my frustrations. In the box indicated “optional statement” I said something along the lines of it’s not fair that I am forced to mark only one. At the time it seemed like a good idea.

I’ve said it before, I’m a realist. I know that I *look* black…whatever that means. I prefer to call it rockin the ‘Vin Diesel‘ or the ‘Daughtry‘ but that’s not the point. My point is that my appearance has enlightened me to a particular reality. When/If the Revolution occurs, we will stick together.

No matter where I go, if I make eye contact with another Black man I get the subtle head nod. Maybe the nod down, maybe the nod up, they all say the same thing: I got your back. Of course I might be jumping to a radical conclusion, in fact I hope I am. But I think there’s a bit of truth to my absurdity. Even with Obama in office, Racism is still alive. Minorities still feel isolated.

Personally, I think the whole concept of moving forward by sticking together is complete bullshit. But I promised I wouldn’t get on a soapbox or start preaching.

I really don’t know what kind of reception this is going to get, but this is something that’s always on my mind. This is who I am, I don’t fit into one neat descriptive category for easy consumption. I am complex. Identity is a complex issue. It is more than being Black, White, Tall, Short, Diabetic…whatever. It’s the combination of all of these characteristics and qualities that makes each and everyone of us unique.

Like snowflakes…or something just as cheesy. Maybe I should put that in a Hallmark card.

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6 thoughts on “Mark All That Apply

  1. I agree that Racism is still very present. I still think that it’s a sad state of affair when people get judged based on physical appearance. Black/white/fat/skinny etc it doesn’t matter. What matter is the person that you are inside. You can be an asshole no matter what you look like in the outside….. same as you can be a very nice person again, no matter what you look like on the outside.

    I can only hope that our generation will teach our children that physical appearance doesn’t matter. However, I won’t believe it until I see it 😦

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  2. Great post! I am obviously White and grew up in a very White area. It was not until college that I even HEARD of something called White privilege. It was not something I never had to consider. For example, no one EVER asks me to be a representative of an entire racial group just because of the way I look. Now intereacting with college ages students every day, I am trying to do my part to open their eyes to the world around them.

    I would love to hear/read the story of how your parents met sometime – I bet its a great story!

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  3. I notice more and more frequently an “other” listing under race/ethnicity… but I’m not sure it’s particularly useful for bi- or multi-racial people where Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity are concerned.

    Then again, at what point does one ignore the smaller/smallest percentage of one’s racial/ethnic identity? Is the question “How many genes do you have from this pool?” (and by the powers of Greystone, there went another Plessy v. Ferguson reference…) or is it “With which/what race(s) do you self-identify?” or “What race does the casual observer think you are?”

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  4. Two days this week you say stuff that I think I’ll try to reference when I get around to writing about diabetes as a “disability”. I don’t want to blow my load though, so hopefully, I’ll get that written and posted Friday or early next week.

    Always interesting to get some insight into someone else’s life experience, especially when it’s one very different from mine. Racism is a sad, sad thing. I understand people fear things that are different, but I just can’t wrap my mind around hating someone simply because they’re a different color/religion/sexual orientation/etc.

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  5. I think you’re pretty awesome no matter what box you check!! I was talking to my mom earlier today while filling out some school forms when that question popped up and we starting talking about how my 1/4 mexican can’t help me but we wish it could!! If only I were a little more mexican! hahah

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