What It Was Like To Be a Mixed Girl In A Primarily White School

Once upon a time, there lived a petite Filipino woman and a way, way taller African American man. And as we know, first comes love, then comes marriage, and for these two, then comes five mixed babies in a baby carriage. Once these curly q's grew up, they were sent to a rinky-dink, primarily White, private school. One that still has a place in their hearts. This school, to the middle child (aka me), was the grounds for many lessons; lessons outside of the realms of English, Math, and History, and whatever stuff adults think is good for kids. There, she practically minored in lessons in life, love, fairness, and reality.

            Long story short, I’m the middle child who attended that rinky-dink, private school deep in the depths of the Midwest and here’s my experience with it.

In Elementary School, I had a slight annoyance with my dark hair. My mom would slather on this pink lotion (I can smell it now) before brushing my curls into a tight ponytail. It was poofy. It was big. It wasn't flat. It wasn't like my classmates.

            One of my biggest concerns has always been, oddly, my hair. Like all girls, I went through a hair straightening phase. The glorious tool presented itself in middle school and I would pull it over strands suddenly amazed at the girl staring back at me. Sometimes I wouldn’t even recognize her.  I looked prettier. I looked normal. “You’re so pretty when you straighten your hair.” “You should straighten it more often.” My hair was the same in the morning as it was the night before. No need for wetting down. No need for leave-in conditioner.

            But it wasn’t even hair that got me. When I think about it today, all my memories: sitting in classrooms, walking the halls, joking with friends, I think about my peers around me. My mind wanders to a potential reason why I sometimes felt that I wasn’t, quote unquote, “normal”. I didn’t look like the average girl in my class. I didn’t notice other heads chock full of wild, natural hair. And seeing that that was the case, I compared myself to others and those lovely others were my friends. My friends with tame hair. My friends with cute, freckled skin. And of course, I never won, because in my mind I automatically lost half the battle.

And if I didn’t win there, I certainly wouldn’t win in the good ole survival of the fittest. You know, the biological phenomenon having to do with attraction, reproduction, etcetera? If you can’t tell, that was my crude way of alluding to love, relationships, and whatever that lovey-dovey stuff entails (Sorry, I just got out of biology recitation. Evolution is weirdly on my mind).

            For the longest time, I despised boys. I loathed them. They were the bane of my existence. And it wasn’t because they hurt me. It wasn’t because they were mean. It was the opposite. Some think that opposite of love or like is hate, but it’s not. The opposite of love is indifference.

            It’s not to say that I didn’t have guy friends, because I did. Given, I didn’t get them until I summoned the courage to talk to them. Still, they were fun. They were sweet. They could make me laugh until I cried. Guy friends could be the best, but regardless, it wasn't what I wanted. To make a long story short, I’ll clarify by adding that I never got what I wanted, at least in high school I didn’t. I wanted to be romanced. I wanted to be swept off my feet. I wanted to tell my goofy boyfriend to shut up and stop teasing me, secretly hoping that he wouldn’t. When senior prom rolled around I ended up hyperventilating while doing an I-can’t-breath-without-doing-this-weird-hiccup-thing cry. I let out melodramatic, snot-filled sobs because realized that I’d never go with anyone romantically.  

            And yes, to answer your question, I know my romantic “tragedies” are not all due to my skin color, but I still felt gypped. I felt like everyone else, all the other girls, had a leg up on me. I felt unwanted. Like guys would rather run their hands through tame, wavy locks instead of coarse, curly madness.

            Something that I've picked up over time is that you really don't get to choose your life. You don't get to chose your family. You don't get choose your skin. For most of us, you don't even get to choose what school you go to. You take what's given to you, and you make choices based on it. You have to figure out how to use the chips you've been dealt.

I didn’t spend my high school career moping. To be clear, I loved my high school. Some of my favorite memories are with my classmates. We had extremely dorky parties in hot, crowded basements. We goofed off during theater practices to put on a surprisingly entertaining production. We would chase each other around in Home Education annoying the life out of our teacher. The same hijinks transpired, unfortunately for Mr. Freeborn, in AP Biology too. My high school friends were wonderful. I couldn’t ask for better ones (Shout out to my best friend. She knows who she is). They were accepting and kind. They taught me things I couldn't have learned anywhere else from any other person. The funniest part is that they probably didn’t even mean to. The lovely people I’ve met here, on the other hand, have caused me to see things in a different light. While I consider times with my high school friends priceless, my friends here accept me a way that those back home couldn't have. And it’s odd because it all started with something as simple as a similar, skin color.

            To wrap this rambling up, your experiences are what make you. I decided I’m grateful for them because they’ve brought me to the ones I love the most: those from my past and from my reality today.