I Am A Mulatto Oreo

One day I found a $5 independent movie in a bin at Wal-Mart that changed me in a profound way.

It has everything I love — classical music, 16th-18th-century dress and style, outstanding performances, and a compellingly moving love story at its core.

'Belle' is a retelling of Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsey, a Mulatto woman who finds her place and love in the world when she comes of age.

A great deal of Dido's life mirrors mine, and she finds the love I've always dreamed of finding.

I have always felt that I'm stuck between being Black and being White.

I was born to two Black parents. My upbringing was typical for someone who was lower middle class. My childhood homes were full of roaches and spiders and centipedes. An unattentive landlord. Street violence in the nights right outside my bedroom window every night. Raggedy clothes. Little food. Limited health and beauty supplies. Continous sexual harassment and assaults from boys and men much older than me. Physical and emotional abuse. Bullying. Depending on public transportation. Lack of parental involvement and attention due to providing my brother and me with some kind of roof over our head, clothing, and food. Raised in a time of people rampantly having children out of wedlock. Low-grade education.

Then, in the summer of 1990, I received the chance of a lifetime — to audition to enter Cleveland School of the Arts. There, I discovered my love of theatre and literature. But I wasn't drawn to the same aspects of the arts as the other Black students. I loved Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Charlotte Bronte.

As a teenager, I watched shows like 90210, Melrose Place, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I loved New Kids on the Block, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, Jessica Simpson, Backstreet Boys, and NYSYNC. Then I moved on to loving Selena, Creed, Nickelback, Three Doors Down, The Goo Goo Dolls, Train, The Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Green Day, No Doubt, Marilyn Mason, and Korn. I even got into the Country Music explosion of the 90's and related to Faith Hill, The Dixie Chicks, Shania Twain, and LeAnn Rimes. I absolutely love classical music and going to plays, museums, and art galleries.

Maybe, in the end, I was drawn elsewhere because it was a different world from my own.

But still, I enjoyed by the R&B singers and Hip Hop/Rap artists of the early to mid 1990's. Salt N Pepa, TLC, Destiny's Child, SWV, En Vogue, MoKenStef, Boyz II Men, BabyFace, Queen Latifa, Aaliyah, Lil Kim, Notorious BIG, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog, Puff Daddy, LL Cool J, Brandy, Monica, and Brownstone. My mother always played The Jackson Five, The Temptations, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, The Supremes, Diana Ross, Patti LaBelle, and Luther Vandross music in the house when I was a child. I deeply related to movies made by the legendary Spike Lee, Waiting To Exhale, Set It Off, Boyz In The Hood, Juice, Poetic Justice, Menace II Society, and even cooky Black films like the House Party movies and Meteor Man. I loved shows like In Living Color, Living Single, 727, Amen, Good Times, The Cosby Show, A Different World, and Family Matters.

However, I was always seen as an Oreo — Black on the outside but White on the inside. I've never been able to escape this label. It feels like it's put on me as a curse in the Black community rather than all my interests be completely accepted as just who I naturally am.

Even when I went on to college, my interests segregated me from both my Black and White peers. Black students wondered why I occasionally took Black Studies courses and White students couldn't believe I loved English Literature so much to major in it. Instead of joining Sororities and Black Student Unions, I participate in Creative Writing Clubs and LGBT+ community activism clubs. I'm disconnected from everyone simply because of who I am and what I like.

I can't help what I like. I didn't choose to like Saved By The Bell and Martin. To love Charmed and Moesha. To love Clueless and Friday. To love Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes. To be fascinated by the French Revolution as well as the Harlem Renaissance.

My ultimate personal relationship goal is to achieve what Dido Lindsey did. She married a man who saw her for all that she was and loved her regardless. I want to find love(s) that respect where I've been. To support me where I'm going and to love me despite my faults, mistakes, and illnesses. I don't know if my future mates will be a White man and a Black woman, a Black man and a White woman, a White man and a White woman, a Black man and a Black woman, or a combination of the multitude of other races that live in this world, but to find true love without judgement is what I'll always seek.

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