L’Tya Jones | Contributing Writer
“What are you?” It is a simple, yet extremely heavy, annoying, and burdensome question. When I was about seven years old, I still had the wonderful childlike ignorance of not seeing color. My classmates stood around me wide eyed, prodding me for information about my background.
I did not understand how or why people separated themselves by race and creed. Unfortunately, I used to see the world through rose-colored glasses, so I replied to my classmates by simply stating the obvious.
“I’m human.” I saw the confusion that was evident on my classmates faces as they began to shift around uncomfortably. Of course, they knew that looking at me, I was human, and not some alien from Mars. They simply did not want to ask the obvious. I did not understand the question presented to me so a girl piped up and answered the question for me.
“She’s Mixed.’’ I did not understand what the term “mixed” meant, so I did not correct her. I saw the confusion from my classmates faces melt. Just like that, I was sorted and filed into something I didn’t even understand or associate myself with.
I had to endure bullying and name calling because my skin tone is considered too dark for my white classmates and too light for my black classmates. In their eyes, I wasn’t even human, I was just a walking color.
I learned later in life that I had roots that stretched and touched all corners of the world, and that I am in fact, a black woman. I still had the wonderful notion that even though I am a black woman, the world would be able see me for me… a human being. I did not understand that the society I live in has a thick yet subliminal blanket of prejudice.
Of everyone in my family, I have a lighter skin tone. So, when I am out with my family, a stranger would occasionally stop us and ask my mother or my father if I was from a preexisting marriage. People often assume one of my parents is white, or even have the audacity to ask if one of my parents cheated on the other.
The arrogance of people began to become overwhelming. I became tired of the questions, the never-ending stares, and I was in complete disbelief that people would treat another person like such an abnormality. I finally understood who I was and what I was. Yet the world chewed me up and spat me back out as if I was some bitter and disgusting thing.
I was conversing with my co-worker one day about work related items, and out of the blue he told me that he does not like black people. I was completely shocked that he told me this, for I didn’t understand why he felt the need to tell me. I reported it to my boss who asked me if I was sure that my coworker did not say it in a joking manner.
I was confused by his question, and informed my boss joking or not, that it is unacceptable to say things like that in the work place. My co-worked found out that I talked to our boss about the situation; he told me that I was just too sensitive. I was extremely angry and it made working at my job increasingly difficult. I felt that if I were to talk about the subliminal racism in my office: no one would listen to me, no one would help me, and no one would could even begin to understand it, or even try to.
I am a human and should not be judge based on my skin color, for it does not make up who I am inside. I have learned how to be comfortable with myself and to love myself for who I am truly am. I can look at the world and truly say that beauty is skin deep. Everyone is different inside and out. We are all humans, and when we all can look at each other in that sense the world can finally progress as a race. The human race.