Who am I? A question that I ask myself all of the time. I am multicultural. I am strong and sensitive. I am a learner. I am a reader. I am a dancer. I am a lover of life. I am a person who wants everyone to do well. Who do you see? You see me as an angry Black woman. You see me as loud. You see me as everything that you hate. You see me as overqualified. You see me as not connected.
Who I am will always be more than who you see me as. But at the end of the day, who you see me as trumps the world’s view of me. The world takes your word for me over my word and deed and action of who I really am. People ask me why I am so angry(when they don’t see me smile, when in reality I can’t smile all of the time). I forget that people don’t want to know the source of my pain, they just want me to be silent or to be how they want me to be which is some form of quiet).
The people in my life and family are a multicultural tribe to be sure but there is a lot that they do not seek to know. I can’t even imagine what my brain function would be if I had the choice to not know what was happening in the world or not read diverse authors or not understand what racism is, pretends to be, looks like, feels like, upholds, tears down. It would be nice if I had the luxury to think of racism in only abstract terms. In academia racism is referred to as inequality. I guess that sounds so much nicer.
My friends can’t understand how I can hold grudges for so long. Well, the thing is I remember everything(pretty much) that has happened to me since I was three or four. So, for most of my life I did not experience outright racism. It was very covert. The tracking of our classes started in junior high school. So I was only one of a handful of Black/Brown students in my classes. In high school, I became the only one. It was like we were split up so there was atleast one Black/Brown person in a few classes. Don’t get me wrong, I have probably been misunderstood since birth. But to get that outside of your home and in the world, is tough. In high school I floated among a number of groups because I was on the fringe of everything. I had two friends in high school. One of those, I think she was only friends with me because of our mutual friend. So now that we have grown to adulthood, I don’t quite understand why I even have friends at all. I am literally so weird that it is even hard for me to grasp that people would want to be associated with me. But they are determined to stick around. I know that my family loves and supports me in spite of how awkward I am.
When I look back on my life, I did not think in a million years that I would be where I am today. I thought that I would just set a path and stay on it. I remember when I thought that I didn’t score high enough on my ACTs to go to Duke(my dream school when I was a kid) and I told my family that I would just become a teacher(because the only thing I really knew how to do was work with kids).
Well, I went on with the plan to become a teacher and I did. It just didn’t turn out the way I thought. I had a degree, I was certified and then I couldn’t find a job. I took a lot of horrible jobs because I didn’t have a lot of choice. But I stayed optimistic, I went to all of the job fairs, I had tons of interviews, but I could never get the job. So then I decided to stop trying. It was at that point that I had to try and figure out who I was outside of education and that was hard. I wasn’t really qualified to do anything else. So I trudged on. I vowed that I would never work in education. Then I kept going to school(because I thought surely, this is the only way to better my life).
So now I am in this weird place, where I am trying to make some transitions in my life(because not being good enough to be selected for the graduate assistant-ship really is still devastating). I still have bills. So let’s just say I am trying to be a little more of an adult than I have been. Well, I am greeted with those same fears and rejections. I mean I look at my own resume and it just makes me depressed. So I have to trick my brain to be super optimistic and believe that I can actually get a better job. That someone will want to higher me but my brain is like “Nothing has changed”, “Remember the last time”, “You are beyond over qualified”. Because everyone around me is in a stable job. They are often way less qualified than I am. And I am just struggling.
For instance, I had a birthday this month that I didn’t even want to have. Because for me, turning a year older just makes me think of the life that I don’t have. It makes me think of the family that I don’t have. So even though I have so many friends who think my life is so great, the reality is, is that it sucks. But I have to keep pushing forward. It is such a struggle some days. It’s hard to keep trying to keep your head above water when every time you turn around everyone is telling you that you don’t belong. I get it, I have made peace with my not belonging but it gets tiring sometimes.
Also, I get angry over injustice for all people and in any form. That also is tiring because every time you may think you can take a breathe, something else happens that makes it hard. So, I don’t want to make excuses for people who make excuses for why they are not bothered about injustice in the world.