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Thoughts from an Oreo Pt. 1
Oreo. Half and half. Zebra.
I've heard it all. It doesn't take long for people to notice that you're mixed before the floodgates open. The comments about my hair. The questions about what race my parents belong to. And let's not forget the confusion about which ethnicity I should check off whenever I fill out my paperwork.
According to everything I see in the news or on social media, I should be offended, right? Annoyed at the very least? How dare other people invade five seconds of my precious time with their "ignorant" questions.
Yeah, that's not how I roll. Truth is. I loved being mixed! I'm proud of my African and Italian/Irish heritage. It's the best of both worlds. Just think about it. A little over fifty years ago, interracial marriage was still illegal. That's not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things, and yet I am a living defiance of what used to be considered shameful. Even here in 2018, I am still the product of those who believed in change. If that's not humbling I don't know what is!
Talking about the things that make me different, whether it be my caramel macchiato skin tone or my hereditary passion for all things pasta, is something that I love to discuss. I'm not embarrassed of either ethnicity. I love my black side just as much as my white side and vice versa.
Unfortunately, race isn't a popular subject these days. Well, not if you want to have a calm and rational discussion about it anyway. There's no faster or easier way to commit social suicide than to be labeled a racist. It's a passionate subject for many people and rightly so. The problem, however, is that society has created this labyrinth of eggshells for us to navigate. Eggshells that are built out of contradicting and impossible requirements.
If you're proud of your race, you're a racist; if you're ashamed of your race, then you're unpatriotic.
If you say racism is an issue you have fight just like everyone else, but if you don't think racism is as big an issue as people make it out to be, you're an ignorant bigot.
If your ancestors did anything wrong throughout the course of history, your entire race should have to pay for their mistakes today. On the other hand, if you acknowledge the mistakes of yesterday you're accused of being someone who's obsessed with the past and can't move on.
We're never qualified to make comments about societal issues facing other races, but if we don't say anything we're told that we've condoned the injustice with our silence!
This is madness! How is anything productive supposed to get done when we are being bombarded with all of these unrealistic expectations? How can we be diverse without allowing room for actual diversity? Tell me the last time you made chocolate-chip cookies without chocolate-chips. How'd that turn out for you?
If you truly want to have a genuine and healthy dialogue about race, here's what you need to do. First of all, turn off the TV and log out of Facebook for a moment. Stop letting random people tell you how and what to think. Secondly, and most importantly, you need to memorize this one simple phrase very very carefully. I know that's a lot to ask of a person, but I think you can handle this. Ready?
"I do not know everything."
It's that simple. I know. Mind-boggling right?
This applies to all areas of life, but especially when talking about race. You do not have all the answers. Your experiences and opinions are yours, and they are valuable, but at the same time they cannot replace what another person brings to the table. Once you think you can come to grips with that, then you're on your way to having amazing conversations with amazing people. Doesn't mean you have to agree with them or even believe in what they have to say. You don't have to support their causes or wave their banners, but you'll be a better person just for listening.
At the end of the day, we're all just a pack of variety highlighters from the same box. Everybody has their own beautiful hue to offer the world.
Embrace your hue!