Color Undefined

Post by Dyamond Robinson-Patlyek for the Love for Love series.


photo by Dyamond

Color Undefined

First, it was my voice. One of the first comments I remember when I moved to Florida at 5 years old was “You talk funny.” I never really grew out of talking funny. And people never grew out of teasing me about it.

“Why do you talk that way? You’re not white.”
“Talk to me the real way.”
“You want to be one of them.”

Then it was the music I listened to. I was, and still am, a lover of pretty much all types of music. When I was younger I was really into a lot of heavy Rock music –you know teenage angst and all- but I could only listen to it within the confines of my room. And if my mom heard any of it I would hear “Turn that shit down!” but if I’m listening to Usher? No words.

I had black friends, and I had white friends, and I learned to adapt to both groups so I could fit in. I would change the way I spoke and behaved for each group I was around, just so I could be accepted. But a group of girls caught me and told me I was being fake. It’s true I was, but I couldn’t win just being myself.

The teasing, the confusion about who I was and how to behave didn’t only happen when I was a little girl. Unfortunately people still think stereotypes are okay. Whenever I’m around certain family members, I am their comedy act for the evening just to hear me speak. It’s funny to listen to my music… to see me act white.

My white friends think it’s cool to make racist jokes. And any time I don’t pronounce a word clearly- any time I speak “ghetto” it’s turned into a joke. Any music I listen to that may fit a stupid stereotype is laughed at. Any time I’m not acting white enough apparently it’s free game to grin and poke at me.

It’s still such a struggle just to be myself.

I remember my mom telling me that I was ashamed to be black. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

I am a proud African American woman. To be African American does not mean I must speak slang all the time. It does not mean I have to listen to rap and R&B. It does not mean I can only date black men, or have black friends. I am no less African American because I don’t fit in some box that wasn’t meant for any of us to be placed in.

I am African American because I was born to a beautiful African American woman, and an Amazing African American man, with spectacular African American family members.

Yes, I mostly listen to sacred chants in Sanskrit, the spice girls, and daft punk. No, I don’t eat watermelon all the time. And no, it’s not okay to make that joke. I do sort of dress weird, and for the most part I pronounce all my words clearly, and properly. Not because I want to be white, but because that’s how the word is pronounced. I didn’t marry a white guy because I hate black people or even hate black guys. I married my husband because he treats me like I’m the most important thing on this planet, and showers me with love and affection not just to me, but also to so many people on a daily basis.

If there’s anyone else out there like me; the person who has been labeled the black sheep, the oddball- the one that has trouble fitting in, please know you’re not alone. And please stay true to yourself. We are not just the color of our skin. We have our own uniqueness that makes us beautiful and that’s what the world needs to see, not some stupid stereotype. You’re not a shameful representation of your race- you’re an amazing representation of what we can evolve to be. Of all that we can become.

And to those who want to shame those who don’t fit your list of requirements to be white, black, Hispanic, Asian; please stop. We are not here for your comedic relief. We are not here to make you feel better because you are too afraid to open up. Know that there’s a bigger world beyond the imaginary box you created. A world that is accepting of you just the way you are.

This is still a rough journey for me, but I am determined to handle it being myself. I no longer tolerate harmful racist jokes. I want to educate and bring awareness, rather than fake a laugh, and swallow the hurt in my heart.

There are some things we may do that are stereotypical and that’s okay! And there may be so much that we do that is not stereotypical and that’s okay too. The beauty of being human is that we can be whoever the hell we want to be as long as we feel good in our hearts. The world is made of so many gorgeous colors with so many different shades. I want all of them to shine proudly, and as bright as they possibly can.

Dyamond Robinson-Patlyek is a maker of malas, a yogini, and a fierce lover of sweets. She spends her time taking barefoot walks, singing, and finding ways to make this world a little brighter. One of her biggest goals is to remind us how good it feels to love, to share love, to embody love; and to encourage you to feel and truly understand that you are no less than amazing. You can read more of her stories at dyamondintherough.com

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