The Day I Discovered My Different
I grew up in the suburban wilderness of New England. Among the pine trees, apple groves and fragrant lilacs. Each of the small-town roads winded from one predominantly white neighborhood to the next.
In school, I was almost always the only black child in my classroom. Sometimes I was the only black child in my entire grade and school. For a long time this was not unusual to me. I wouldn't even think about how different my skin made me. In many ways, I think my innocence had protected me from the feelings of loneliness, fear, and self-consciousness that quickly inundate our senses the moment we discover we are different.
Like, really different.
I remember the day I discovered my different. I was alone in my bedroom, probably journaling or writing a short story, when I saw it.
I had held out my small hand so it showed in the light. I rotated it slowly. Examining its every curve and wrinkle. Seeing my long fingers, my deep nail beds, and the veins that sat just below the surface. Then I saw my brown skin, holding it all together.
I remember thinking “My skin looks so different from everyone else’s skin. Why am I so different?” And then it happened...
I wept big, round, elephant tears.
Alone in my bedroom, without warning, and with my whole heart – I cried. Maybe it was because I knew that I could no longer live in the comfort of my ignorant bliss. Maybe it was because I had uncovered a harsh realization that should have stayed buried for just a few more years. Maybe I cried because I knew that I couldn’t change me, even if I wanted to. I would always be different, and my skin was a physical reminder of that lonely divide.
Now don’t get me wrong. To this day, I have never WANTED to be white. I am only mentioning that because I don’t want anyone assuming that’s the case.
I simply didn’t understand why I had to be SO different from my classmates.
Sure, now and then I wonder what it would feel like being white. I wonder how I might be treated. I wonder how my life would be different.
Would I still be followed around in stores?
Would store managers comment on how “surprisingly good” my credit score is? (Yup - true story. This actually happened to me at the Banana Republic in a New Hampshire Mall.)
Would they call me “Entitled,” and tell me how they “Can see why people would call me privileged?” Also both true and sadly recent stories.
For some reason, I have the sinking suspicion that these things wouldn’t have happened to me if I was white. Maybe I’m wrong, but these are my honest thoughts nonetheless.
" She is the treasure of her tribe. The legacy of the men and women before her. She is the beauty, grace, and love of her mother and her mother’s mother. "
I look back on that little girl. I see her silent tears, and I weep for and with her. She did not yet know of the power that lies in her luminescent skin. She hadn't learned about the rich history that has been woven into the royal fabric of her story. She hadn’t yet been told the legacy of courageous, wise, selfless and loving women who proceeded her.
She is the treasure of her tribe. The legacy of the men and women before her. She is the beauty, grace, and love of her mother and her mother’s mother.
I AM MY ANCESTORS WILDEST DREAMS!
A once hope of my people, now realized. AND SO ARE YOU!
Our "different" is our power! Use your different to make a difference in the world! You don't have to any longer wait to share your story, lift your voice and leave a legacy.
We have been strategically placed in an era desperate for love, empathy, and more fearless pioneers. We have been given the honor, blessing, and burden of empowering the voices of women to rise up and be heard! Black, white, brown, yellow, red, and all of the beautiful colors in between.
If I could go back to that bedroom, I would stand beside that little girl. I would warmly embrace her, look her in the eyes and say:
“Wipe your tears baby girl. You are His beautiful creation! A work of art! Now, we don’t have much time, and we’ve got some important work to do.”