What if there was no race?
Why do Black women marry white men?
This question was asked to me back in 2011 by my, now ex-girlfriend’s landlord. At the time, I remember thinking, “Did that question feel right coming out of your mouth?” Also, “Do I look like the representative for the whole population of Black women?”
This led me down a rabbit hole into my own identity; what do I represent? My mother is Black and my father is white. Honestly, if Viola Davis and Clint Eastwood had a love baby, that baby would be me.
When I was in first grade, I remember a kid picking on me because I didn’t know what color I was. I went home in tears because I didn’t know I needed to pick a color. My father picked one for me, he told me I was peaches and cream. So, the next day I punched that kid square in the face and let him know I was without a doubt peaches and cream. Later in third grade, a kid picked on me because my mother married a white man — some nonsense about my mother being a “hoe” for choosing a white dude. This is all confusing for a kid, especially a kid that literally should not have to choose.
I found making friends to be a struggle; I was too light skinned to be considered Black and too exotic to be considered white. So, what am I? For my ethnicity in high school they went with whatever color my mother was, but just cause I’m Black on paper doesn’t mean I’ll be accepted by the community. What’s weird is if I say I’m Black I get the side eye, but if someone else says I’m Black I get the nod.
I’ve experienced racism from strangers but the sting is nothing compared to the racism received from my own people. “Girl, you ain’t Black; you listen to white people music” or “Oh my god, your curls are so cute, can I touch them?”
I am mixed. I am the offspring of the idea of no race. I am literally a blurred but defined line of American identity. But how did I get to this — being marooned on an island of the unidentifiable and then realizing everyone else is on an island of ignorance. The golden idea we should be chasing is I support you because you’re person, and that’s all that matters. Race is a barrier and culture is an education.
So, the answer I gave the woman who asked, “Why do Black women marry white men?”:
Because people fall in love and that has nothing to do with color.
The response I wish I had given was:
How would you have phrased that question if there were no such thing as race?
If we took race away in American culture, how would we identify ourselves? I am not suggesting erasing our history. History is needed to progress, and yet I do not feel as though we have progressed at an acceptable speed. If you one day you woke up and couldn’t describe yourself as a race, could you describe yourself at all? I think you could. It’s your name. Everything that is unique about you as an individual is in your name. It says what you need to be called and begins to paint the picture that is you. It does not gender you, and it is the foundation of getting to know you as a person — not a color.
This, of course, will have its obstacles. Again, being mixed, I have been identified as Puerto Rican, Mexican, Spanish, Samoan; hell I even got German one time. But they assumed I was these things and immediately accepted it. When I informed them I was mixed with Black and white, I was immediately an outsider to their world. It may sound pretentious at first, but if we can just focus on being humans, and the best humans we can be, without mentioning our race, would this be more beneficial? You’ll see what makes each of us unique is not the color of our skin. Although that is what makes us beautiful, it’s not necessarily unique. Recognize culture because that is history, but not race because our mentality as humans tends to be team oriented, and race divides us. Instead of asking ‘how can I be a better white person’ or ‘what can I do as a Black person to help the community,’ take race out of the question. That is already an improvement.
Just for funsies, try it once. Describe yourself without your race. And if someone asks for your race, refer to it as your culture — not your race. Simply reply, ‘I’m human, like you.’ Or ‘I’m peaches and cream’.
I’m not saying it will work, but I think it would be beneficial to try it or something like it. This country is obsessed with race, which is a shame since this country is founded on freedom and the foundation built by nearly every culture on Earth. Maybe if we just referred to ourselves as Americans, we could become an America worth being proud of.