Regardless Of How My Family Looks, I Am Black
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Politics and Activism

Regardless Of How My Family Looks, I Am Black

Why is this such a problem for so many of you?

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Regardless Of How My Family Looks, I Am Black
Sarah Harmatuk

My biggest struggle in life currently is dealing with everyone's opinions on what I am. By this, I mean everyone's opinions discussing if I am white or black. This comes with the price of being a black daughter to white parents. It isn't your fault, Mom and Dad, because regardless of how my family looks, I am black.

For some reason, all these people think it is their job to classify, categorize, and label me however they want, based on the fact that my parents and siblings are white. Yes, my dad is Polish and my mom is all types of European. Yes, my brother and sister are a combination of both. Yes, my brother-in-law is also Polish, and my sister-in-law is Eastern European. What does that have to do with me being black? Last time I checked, no one has the right to label me. I have carried this burden from elementary school, through high school, and now into my adult life.

In elementary school, I was told by a boy that I wasn't black, because of the clothes I wore. I'm sorry, I didn't know shorts and T-shirts were a white people thing. I asked him, "What are you wearing that I'm not that makes me any less black than you," and he said, "I wear baseball jerseys." We went back to class and all the white boys in the classroom had on a baseball jersey, because the World Series was on. He also told me that because my mom and dad were white, that makes me white, because apparently you are what your parents are.

In middle school and high school I was "too white," because I went to a private school, where I was one of seven black kids in my graduating class of 124. I'm sorry, I didn't know wanting a good education was a white thing. Well, that good white education set me up to be able to be graduating this year with two bachelor's degrees and two teaching certifications. #BlackExcellence.

I was also too white because my dad moved us to a nice, quiet neighborhood. I was still living in a city that's being ripped apart by violence, was still driving through tough and unsafe neighborhood to get to my house. I was still being told by my friend who lived in the boondocks that they were scared to come to my house, because they had to drive through the south side or the west side, but because no one has been shot in my front yard, I'm not black? I'm still saying R.I.P. to kids I was friends with in elementary school who are being killed before they turn 21, and you're so shocked that I know them, because that kind of violence is a black thing, and because I had a swimming pool I was white.

Then I got to college. Going into my senior year, I have yet to be told I am white from someone I have met here. However, I am still being told this by people I thought I was friends with in high school (go figure). Someone actually said to me, "I find it weird that you hang out with black people all of a sudden," and "My dad doesn't really like black people but he likes you because your family's white." A majority of the people I hang out with in college are black. Why, you ask (because you really think this is your business)?

After spending 17 years of being told I was something I'm not, I needed to find myself, by myself, for myself. Yes, for myself, not for you bored, ignorant people I used to call my friends. I joined multicultural clubs, because that is where I felt I fit it (considering I spent 17 years being told I was too white for the black kids) and was accepted. Shout out to my P.O.W.E.R. family. (For those who don't know, P.O.W.E.R. is a multicultural, NOT JUST BLACK club on campus that stands for Pride in Our Work, Ethnicity and Race).

Here, I began to feel comfortable in my skin, comfortable being adopted, comfortable being Sarah. I've also made a lot of friends from all different types of backgrounds who just see me as Sarah and these people are my best friends.

For the naysayers who are still out there, let me fill you in on something. I am 64 percent African, 23 percent Hispanic/Hispanic-American and 13 percent European. Of that 64 percent, I am 38 percent West African (Ghana, Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo, Mali and Senegal), and 26 percent from Congo and Cameroon. The 23 percent is from South America and the Dominican Republic. The 13 percent is from Great Britain. Yes, I am black, but because I know one of you is going to question that 13 percent, let me clarify:

Here's a quick history lesson for you: During the Atlantic Slave Trade (or Transatlantic Slave Trade), Africans from West Africa were taken on slave ships to America. Slave traders were the Portuguese, British, French, Spanish and Dutch. In America, men of these European extractions raped enslaved women.

My 13 percent British ethnicity comes from my enslaved ancestors who either escaped or survived. That is how I am here today.

Call me "too white" again. I dare you.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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