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More Than Black and White

When you look at me what do you see? Do you see a girl with light brown skin, curly hair, and brown eyes, or do you immediately label me as a “mixed girl?” Do you see the clothes I’m wearing, do you want to touch my hair, or do you just see the “mixed girl?” Because growing up it seemed like people were only interested in the color of my skin, the sound of my voice and why I wasn’t as dark as my African father or as Pale as my Irish Mother. From as far back as I can remember other girls would want to touch my hair because it was different from theirs. I would ALWAYS be asked “what are you?” and when I was younger I would be really confused on what that meant.

I can still vividly remember in the second grade I was asked by my teacher what “I was.” I was very confused and said, “I am Happy” and she said, “No, what are you mixed with?” and with a straight face, loud and proud, I confidentially said, “My Mommy and Daddy.” It’s not that I didn’t know where my parents were from, but I didn’t understand what people meant by, “what are you?” I didn’t know what she was really asking was, “where were your parents born?” If that is what she really wanted to know, why didn’t she just ask that.

Growing up in my home my mother ALWAYS taught me that “Who I was” was more than where my parents were born, and more that what I looked like. Because of these lessons I always fought the “system” when I was asked that question or I would keep it simple and just say black and white to get people off of my case. Growing up I felt like such an outsider sometimes. I would be with friends of color and they would say that I spoke “like a white girl” or I didn’t “act black,” or that I wouldn’t understand what they were talking about because I wasn’t really “black” and with my white friends they would say things like “you are different from the other black kids.” These comments would eat me alive! But they were absolutely right! One day I had had enough. I decided from that day forward it didn’t matter what I “was.” All that mattered was the God made me perfectly in His image and made me all of these other beautiful things.

I AM MORE THAN THE COLOR OF MY PARENTS SKIN. I am Nana. I am Strong. I am Blessed. I am so loved. I am beautiful. I am smart. I am creative. I am able. I am caring. I am different. I am empowered. I am empowering. I am talented. I am daughter. I am sister. I am friend. I am Irish. I am African. I am Nana. I am more than black and white.

Nana Barimah

Jax State '21

My name is Nana Barimah. I am a Junior-ish at Jacksonville State University. I am the Campus Correspondent for Her Campus at Jax State
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