This is another blogpost that has been brewing inside me forever. The words and emotions wanting to get told but my mind putting a stop to it. I apologize if it feels like rambling but it was not easy to articulate into words.
I told you in a previous blogpost that it is difficult for me to identify as a Woman Of Color (ie WOC). See, for those who don’t know: I was raised by my White mother while I had no contact with my father’s side, where my skin tone comes from.
Am I just my skin tone ?
I have afro hair. My skin is really in-between white and brown. All my life, I have been either too white for people of color, or too brown for white people. Never good enough for either of those ethnicities.
For all my life, strangers have been trying to play the “where in the hell is she coming from ??” game. Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Brazil, India… I think I have heard it all. But no, I am French from two French parents. See, my father is from French Guiana: that very small overseas department and region of France on the South American continent. Yes, you might never have known it existed before now. And to crown it all, my Mom embraced her celtic roots when naming me with a celtic name…
Mom had no clue how to care for my hair or how thirsty my skin is. She did her best with the tools she had at the time (no internet, you guys !). I am crying typing this because my Mom, too, had to deal with ignorant people and had to sacrifice friendships when her friends knew she would be raising a bi-racial kid.
My skin tone seems to confuse others. But then… how is this my problem ?
I am constantly judged. By People of Color who seem to feel betrayed by my marriage to a White man, by White people who can’t understand what he is actually doing with me etc. I learned not to care too much about the stares and the disdain we see on their face but this is hard.
How can I identify with African Americans when I am too marshmallow for them ? All my life, I have fought to feel this sentiment of belonging. Belonging to a community of some sorts. I was raised in a white family that has no clue how difficult it was for me to be around them in public because I always felt like the duckling in the eyes of others (not theirs, thankfully).
And what about my daughters ?
This is a heavy topic for me. My daughters are both beautiful girls. In their own individual ways. While pregnant, I wondered: what will she look like ? Will she have a fair skin like her Dad ? Will she suffer with inheriting my afro hair ? etc.
Our first born (on the right in the picture) looks like her Dad: freckles, fair skin, but beautiful green cat eyes. Our youngest (on the left) is more like me but weirdly her hair makes all the difference: when we put our hands on top of each other, it looks like the same color but when we put our faces close to each other, I look afro and she does not. We say she has caramel skin. They both have the same Mom but, as I suffered as a child and teen and even adult, they are frequently asked: “which of you were adopted ? are your parents your biological parents ?” and it sucks. It hurts and creates wounds that will not go away by growing up. Mine are still deep. It was to the point that at 8, I kept asking my Mom to tell me the truth (about being adopted. Which I am not). Who the fuck do people think they are to approach a stranger and ask that kind of things ?
Mae wants boxed braids and I keep telling her no, which is unfair. But because her brown heritage is not showing, I don’t want people to misjudge her.
My heart breaks when I realize that their skin color will cause them harm at some point or another in life.
My fear of Spiritual bypassing
See… I was raised a Catholic. Did all the Sacraments coming before marriage (we did not wed in Church, though). My Mom has always been more or less open-minded and into Buddhism. But around 12yo, I started my research of a Spirituality that would encompass what my guts feelings were and what I knew as true… There entered Wicca and paganism. I devoured books and books, looking for answers and rituals and a practice in general.
I usually KNOW where my practice comes from, like smudging with white sage for example. I do it, acknowledging and respecting its roots. But who am I to actually take this as my own ? Are respect and knowledge enough ?
My father was adopted; and Guiana is a very special place as it is French but surrounded by latin american countries that influenced its practice (of course). But I don’t know nothing about the practice of my ancestors there. Were they doing hoodoo ? How can I ask my converted Protestant Father about this without hurting his current feelings of religion ? I don’t feel like I belong to any culture and it hurts my Soul.
Both my girls are spiritually curious. My husband is taoist, I am pagan in a general sense (Wicca was not for me, eventually). They ask questions, we answer as best as we can and research when needed. Good that the Virgo in me could spend her days in books looking for answers about everything…
I wish I had the funds for these DNA tests we can order, it has been on all my wishlists for years…