“God created our skin with beautiful variety, but all of our souls are the same color.” ~ Dave Willis
I am tired of being defined by the superficial characteristics that provide others comfort because they know which box to put me in.
I am frustrated identifying with the over simplistic stereotypical description of a white woman because I don’t feel that label accurately defines my soul, my heart and who I really am.
The thing is, it’s not just minorities or people from other ethnic backgrounds who struggle with the identity surrounding their race—because I have too.
I was born a certain way—and I have always believed sometimes contrary to those around me that the variety of skin shades is beautiful and something to celebrate.
Regardless of age or location, I have always gravitated toward those from a different racial background than me.
My childhood best friend, who is like a sister, is a different color than me, but because I grew up with her, it wasn’t until recently that she and I even started talking about race, because I’d never noticed the difference in our skin color when I looked at her.
I only ever saw my partner in crime, and the woman who I would go to the ends of the Earth for.
When I attended boarding school, I was lucky enough to have the most amazingly funny roommate, from Ethiopia, who made me laugh by whatever means necessary for the entire school year.
And then there was my college friend from Sudan.
She and I became friends after I joined in her argument, as she was educating our professor about how not everyone in Africa lives in huts and rides elephants—she lived in a high-rise, drove a car and ate at restaurants.
Immediately we became friends and she made my college experience just that much better.
But it doesn’t end or begin with these amazing women who I was lucky enough to cross paths with.
Because from the time when I was 12 years old and had an older black teenage boy tell me that I didn’t act white, I’ve always wondered, how is a white person supposed to act?
And what is it about me that doesn’t seem white?
The truth is, the topic of race, still makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable—they don’t want to talk about it, fearing that they may be seen as prejudiced.
But more importantly, most people don’t want to truly acknowledge their own thoughts and feelings regarding their skin color or that of others.
It makes people feel edgy, as if talking about race is wrong to do, yet discussing racial differences is the only way that we can understand one another and squash any lingering prejudice or false beliefs, once and for all.
Honestly, I haven’t ever given a lot of thought to my skin color, because I don’t see it as something that I’m proud of, but it’s also not necessarily something that I feel condemned by either.
It just is.
As I have gotten older, I have been told that I don’t act white more times than I can count. Only recently, I was really stopped in my tracks to think about the possible meaning behind it for me.
The other day, a black woman, who is literally a queen in every way told me, “Don’t worry darlin’, you are just a black queen soul in a white woman’s skin, the problem is, you were just born the wrong color.”
Her statement has sent me into quiet contemplation.
I know that she meant it as a wonderful compliment and I took it as such, to a degree.
But, I don’t know if I can totally abandon the lightness of my skin, simply because it has shaped my life experiences and therefore who I am.
To think that I was born the wrong color skin is something that I don’t know if I fully can believe, because I don’t think that I would feel any more authentically myself if, according to this queen, I was born a darker shade.
But, the truth is I still don’t know what it means to act white, and something tells me that even if I did, I probably still wouldn’t be doing it correctly, to the liking of others.
And while my best friend and I have had quite a few belly laughs over the fact that according to others I don’t act white and she doesn’t act black—the real question is, “Why do people still feel the need to categorize any race or ethnic background enough to say that we act differently than we are supposed to?”
Because honestly, how am I supposed to act?
It seems there is and will always be a standard by which we are judged.
Do I act white?
Am I feminine enough?
Am I motherly enough?
Am I adulting well?
Truthfully, I have sucked at following any sort of rules or walking the line—I do yoga to old school hip hop sometimes while burning my incense and then cuddle with my girls reading sweet bedtime stories.
I’m happy with myself, as contradictory as I may seem to others.
And though my soul may be that of a queen, it ultimately doesn’t matter what color my skin is.
Because who I am is not defined by the color of my skin.
If I can be described by any color it’s in the flush of rosiness of my cheeks when I am excited or blushing and in the deep blues of my eyes, as they swim with desire when I am looking into the eyes of my lover.
These colors say something about who I am and what kind of heart I have.
The reality is, the depths of my soul can’t be defined by the fact my great grandparents came from Russia, Poland, England and Slovakia.
My soul is a collection of my dreams and the thoughts held within the private sanctions of my mind.
It’s in my desire to make the world a better place and to help as many individuals as I can.
I am unique because, regardless of skin color, there is no one else quite like me in this world.
And that is what not only truly defines who I am, but who we all are.
“I am not my hair, I am not my skin, I am the soul that I am in.” ~ India Arie
Author: Kate Rose
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock