“Wait, I’m Black?”

Although I was born in the United States, shortly after my birth, I moved to Nigeria to live with my grandparents for the first eight years of my life.  It was in the third grade when I was finally in America to live with my mother.  I was 9 years old attending Woodrow Wilson School in New Brunswick, New Jersey and I had my first crush.  He was mixed, black and Hispanic, light skinned with that smooth type of hair.  He was also my best friend.  I was always him and our other friend Alexis.  We hung out at lunch and clowned around in class.  I don’t remember the exact date but I vividly remember the location.  It was lunch time.  The space we used for lunch was also used as a gym or theater, depending on the day and time.  All three of us sat on the roll out tables with small round chairs attached and ate lunch like we always did.  That particular day, my crush mentioned that he liked a girl, as Alexis and I tried to guess who this girl was; I secretly hoped it was me.  Alexis mentioned my name almost in a whisper.  At that moment, the words that came out of my crush’s mouth changed my life forever.  He said, “I will never like a girl as dark as you”.  I did not know how to feel, he was my friend; my very good friend and I didn’t think he meant to hurt me.  Although I just laughed it off, I was hurt and this was the first time I realized I was black, not only black, but dark too.  This was my second year in America and I quickly found out from the other black kids that I was black, different from white people and different from light skinned black people.  To them, this was ugly.  I distinctly remember asking myself, “wait, I’m black?” and when the made fun of my height and stature, I asked “I’m tall and skinny?”  These were words used to describe me that I had never in my life heard.  Living in Nigeria for 8 years, I was surrounded by black, tall and skinny people.  They were my family and I thought we were normal.  But America gave me a bitter and large pill to swallow.  Here, people are defined by how light or dark their skin is.  Race is everywhere and put into everything.  You cannot run from it.  Other races will judge you and so will your race.


3 responses to ““Wait, I’m Black?”

  1. Wow. No comments?

    Thank you for sharing.

    The internal prejudices of the Black community are there too. I mean sometimes this is all so ridiculous (see my post “I Hate Being White.”) You are dark brown, very dark. No human is Black. Or white. I am sort of yellow-y. Pine. Light wood. Alyssa is coffee with milk. You are mahogany. Or something like that. We are all the colors of life, of nature, of mammals (most of whom are shades of brown), of woods, barks, drinks and gravies.

    Does language matter? At some level. But even if we replaced Black and White with Dark Roast and Butter, the attitudes towards those groups would stay the same. The British and the Scots spend centuries hating each other and you can’t even see any differences.

    You say you can not run from how you will be judged by your skin color and all the baggage that brings. OK. You (me) can’t run. But can we stand our ground and push back?

  2. We can absolutely push back. It takes a very strong and confident person to stand their ground. Unfortunately, the way i look at myself is defined by my first three years in America, when i found out i was different from others. It is only recently that i have realized that different it good, not something to be ashamed of. I know there are a lot of kids that define themselves by what their classmates think of them. Here is the problem, these kids don’t know enough to stand their ground.

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