In answer to the Day 1 Question “When Did You First Realize You Were Black (or X)?”
I’m biracial and grew up in a small town in Connecticut where, at the time, my family was one of only tow or three black families. My parents, whether subconsciously or not (I don’t know), decided that the best way to deal with a bunch of little brown, curly headed kids in this virtually all-white town in the 1970s/80s, was to not address the issue at all. So, somehow, I always sort of knew I was different. From a very early age, I remember being out in public with my (white) mother and people staring at us. But I didn’t understand why. Then one day in first grade, again, me being the only black child in my school, we had a new student, a very dark skinned little girl named Natasha. And I couldn’t stop staring at her, and she stared at me too. I don’t remember if I ever even spoke to her, but I was fascinated and it was at this moment that I first thought “here is someone who is different, but not quite that different from me.” I think I felt a familiarity that my 6yr old brain couldn’t fully grasp.
Then she moved. I don’t know what happened, I think she was only at our school for a couple of weeks, so after that I never thought about race or my race again. Until one day in fourth grade, I had a friend come to my house, she came inside and I introduced her to my mother. She grabbed my hand and pulled me back outside and asked “How come your mother is white?” She practically yelled it, she was totally shocked and confused. And I just remember thinking “My mom’s white? Wait… you mean I’m not?”
It was a huge eye-opener for me to realize that I was different.