I hope that one day it will be okay to be me.
“Would you date white guys or black guys?”
I get this question a lot. I find it odd. But, people seem to always want to know. As if, I had a chosen side. As if the sides are in opposition to one another and, eventually, one must win. I find that odd.
I have honestly never looked in the mirror and thought about my ethnicity. Do people do that? It’s not something that ever crosses my mind until someone asks. And, I’ve been asked my entire life.
It’s usually, “What are you?” What am I? What a funny question. I know, of course, what the person means by the question, and I know that some people are asking simply out of curiosity but, it doesn’t make it any less strange. I guess I’m a whole lot of things. I am a 26 year old woman. I am a seminary student. I am an avid fan of reading. I am an introvert. I am a lover of all things Parks & Rec, The Office, and Breaking Bad.
But, that’s not what the person is asking me. He wants to know what I am. Because, I guess, that’s what matters.
We think it doesn’t matter, but, it does. Our world is not as colorblind as it claims to be.
My parents got married before being in a biracial relationship was cool. So hipster.
Although, I’m not sure how “cool” it is even now. I suppose it’s more acceptable than it was in the ‘80s, but, it still bothers people. It even bothers Christians. I might be a little biased, but, I will never understand that.
Is my ethnicity what makes me who I am? And, is that person not okay? Not okay to marry a white guy? Not okay to marry a black guy? Is it not okay to be me?
When I was little, I never noticed that my parents didn’t “match”. Honestly, I still don’t. My dad is my dad and my mom is my mom. They are two of my top favorite humans. And, it’s not because one is black and one is white. I couldn’t care less if they were purple.
Some people act shocked when they find out. Sometimes exclaim things like, “That’s so cool!” Why? Why is it cool? I have never gotten excited about the coolness of your dad’s German ancestry and your mom’s Irish ancestry. Why does mine matter? Or maybe it does. But, why?
It’s often met with comments such as, “Oh, that’s why your hair is so beautiful” or, “You’re so lucky to have a year round tan!” Or when friends say they want to marry someone of a different ethnicity in order to have “pretty” babies. I mean, I’m pretty much a supermodel (KIDDING), but, that’s a pretty ridiculous reason to want to marry someone. I’m asked all the time what ethnicity I would date. Why does it matter? Why do we still care so much? Is the color of our skin so important?
On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been told that my parents sinned by getting married and that I am a product of their sin. Yikes. Thank you, terrible misreading of the Old Testament. And, life in general. When I was little, I remember being made fun of for being an “Oreo”. I remember sneaking outside to my backyard one day and praying to God asking Him to make me “just white” or “just black”, because people didn’t like it when you were both. I still have an adverse reaction to the term “Mixed” because of the inflection in people’s voices when they would use that word concerning me while growing up. It sounded nasty. Dirty. Not okay.
Why is it not okay for me to be me?
I guess it is, but it isn’t. I’m still somewhat of an oddity. We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go.
When a guy would be afraid to take me home to his parents, when people look taken aback when I show them a picture of my family, and when black people are still being murdered in churches for no other reason than that they are black—we’ve still got a long way to go.
I’m often asked what “side” I identify with the most. I hate this question. And, I find it unfair. Why should I have to choose? Do you choose to identify with your dad’s “side” or your mom’s “side”? I hate when I am told that I “act white”, or that my “black side is coming out”. What does that mean? Can’t I just be Shara? Can’t it just be that my “Shara side” is coming out? Why am I reduced to my ethnicity? As if that is what ultimately defines me.
I am not in any way, shape, or form ashamed of my ethnicity. But, I am also not defined by it. I am not defined by the amount of melanin in my skin.
And, I hope and pray that one day, no one will be.
That we will be able to look at one another without prejudice and preconceived notions. Without hate. This might never happen on earth, but, I pray we will work toward that. On earth as it is in heaven.
My dad is black and my mom is white. This is a fact that made my hair curly and my skin tan the moment the sun hits it.
But, I am so much more than my ethnicity. And, I pray that one day that will be okay.
That one day it will be okay to be me.