Many times I get confused for being Caucasian.
At first glance, you probably wouldn’t guess my biological father is black. In the same contrast, you probably wouldn’t be surprised my biological mom is white. I am one of those mixed gals; one of the girls with ‘the good hair’.
Race has always been something I’ve struggled with. As a young girl, I used to dream of having hair that was bone straight, like many of my friends had. I never knew how to identify with either side of myself. For each side, I was too much or too little of the other, and it didn’t help me make sense of anything.
Growing Up With One Side
I grew up with the black side of my family. There was hardly ever a time when we interacted with anyone on my biological mom’s side. The only person who ever did was my grandma, who because my adopted and only mom. She used to take my brother’s and I to my white grandma and grandpa’s house.
After church on Sundays, she would drive over the bridge, that symbolized a begotten part of the town for us; forbidden in the sense that lower class lived there and we were better. Being so young, I don’t remember much, but there are a few memories that never left me.
Memories At My White Grandparents House
My grandma used to have a white dog that I was terrified of. It tried to bite me once when I was reaching out to hold my grandma’s hand. It stuck with me how overprotective the dog was over her; kind of like how my family was of me. They never bit me, but they did prevent me from going anywhere, like further than around the block.
Another memory is of me holding onto my grandpa tightly as he revved up his motorcycle to make us fly past the cars on the road. The breeze was like a magic wind hitting my face, blinding me from any thoughts of racial identity that the kids continuously reminded me of at school; calling me derogitory names like ‘oreo’. He drove all the way to an ice cream shop and bought me an ice cream cone.
The First Time I Met My Biological Mom
One of the most memorable Sunday’s happened when I met my biological mom. My mom/grandma pointed her out to me. She stood nearly six feet away from me and I had no idea who she was. My mom/grandma said, “That’s your mom.”
We talked for a long time. It had to have been hours. She shared a picture she had of me as a baby folded in her wallet. She called me Shaquilla Mary Ann; the name she gave me at the hospital. I didn’t know I had another name.
She tried to give me a kitten. I desperately wanted to take it home with me. I don’t know if it was really about having the kitten or the fact that my biological mom gave it to me. I begged my mom/grandma to have one of the kittens. I found one who seemed to like me. She said no.
Sundays used to be a coming together of both of my races. It was a day where race was put aside to enjoy the company of each other. I am black. I am white. My mom/grandma said we were Cherokee Indian, too. I am many things and it took me a long time to accept who I really am.
Originally Posted on Medium