The Exact Moment I Realized I Was Black
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Politics and Activism

The Exact Moment I Realized I Was Black

When you realize you are black your world changes.

The Exact Moment I Realized I Was Black

As I child, I didn’t acknowledge my race. I slid it under the rug among many other things. I knew I was a different color, but I didn’t understand the impact my race had on society. I had a lot of different friends growing up, most of my friends were white; they were intrigued by me, as I of them. My mother welcomed my friends, but she would protest my invitation to slumber parties. I was to be picked up promptly before nightfall, before the fun began.

In high school, I was fortunate to be redistricted to a new school. I had heard from adult conversations the local high schools were prejudice and racist, I didn’t know what those words meant. The high school I attended was the most diverse school in the county. I was shielded from racism and its consequences. I benefited from the ignorance.

Now that I am older, I realized I was consumed by self-hatred. It wasn’t till my freshmen year of college, that I knew I was black. When I say, I knew I was black, I mean someone reminded me that my skin color was a problem. Being black automatically made me inferior in this society. Unfortunately, I cannot hide my skin, my hair, or my ethnic features. Everything attached to blackness, whether it is negative or demeaning it applies. Blackness is passed down, its inherited before you are in the womb. The awareness of skin color is always in the front of your mind, unless you are ignorant.

I remember, a month into college one of my dorm mates, Sarah invited me to a party along with her friend Rachel to the baseball house. The baseball team, was the “BIG MEN” on campus and Sarah was the epitome of white upper class. Although she was a freshman, she was an outstanding golfer and tennis player. She had dirty blonde hair which was always secured in a single French braid. She was trim, and came from a good family. Her father was the head men’s basketball coach and her mother was a nurse.

Hand dipped in Southern prestige, she talked and moved peacefully, she was as naïve as the pearl earrings she wore. Sarah had been homeschooled. When Sarah, asked me to the party, naturally, I was elated. Invitations were hard to come by and I was flattered. My roommate approved and so did my suitemates. Rachel, different from Sarah, was sultry and smoldering. She went to an all-women’s college out of town. She knew everything about college parties, she a member of an elite Sorority and her boyfriend played football at NC STATE. Rachel talked fast and her gestures were animated.

The day of the party, I picked out my outfit, a short mini skirt, tank top, and some low-heeled sandals. I was tall enough and didn’t want to be appear taller. I gelled my hair into a sleek bun, making sure a few curls framed my face. I sported light makeup, and dazzling mascara to enhance my beast features. I felt good. We all met in the lounge of the dorm, we declared we all looked sexy, took pictures and loaded the car of one of Sarah’s guy friends. Before I got in the truck, he stared at me adamantly, I smiled and thought maybe he found me attractive. As I was in the back seat next to Rachel, Sarah turned around and assured me I would have a good time. Rachel confirmed in agreement. I believed them. It took about ten minutes to arrive in the neighborhood.

The house was buried deep in the neighborhood behind sturdy trees. The house like the other houses in the neighborhood were old, made out of heavy brick and wood. I got out of the car, anxiety pierced me. My heart was pounding, I kept readjusting my skirt making sure it wasn’t too tight or short, meeting people made me nervous. The sky was warm and the night calm. I concentrated on my poker face cool, calm, and collected. I smoothed my hair, and took long deep breaths as I walked up the driveway. Rachel and Sarah were in front of me laughing hand in hand. Their friend was in the front leading the way, I was in the back timidly following them.

As they entered, the house erupted with friendliness, I could feel the wrinkles disappear from my forehead, as I slowly eased into relaxation. I slipped through the doorway, I thought the warm welcome would extend to me, instead silent faces starred back at me, while rock music blared in the background. I closed the door behind me, I was in plain view due to the open floor plan. The lounge and living room merged together into one.

I surveyed the house looking for familiar faces, I recognized some people I had seen on campus. The house was in a state of remolding, damp conditions, unfinished cobalt paint smeared on the walls and partial wood flooring poked around the carpet. I recognized a biracial dude posted on the wall across from me drinking a beer. He scowled at me, narrowing his eyes into beads… the music faded. My temples began to hit against my eyes while my head ached severely. There were about twenty people in the house, it was an exclusive party.

What felt like hours were only three seconds of a greeting from hell. I felt intimidated, inferiority swept in and stole my confidence. I dangled in the air waiting for someone to attack me like a piñata. The women rolled their eyes at me and went back to drinking and chatting. The guys, lazily went back to talking and playing beer pong. Rachel and Sarah had disappeared behind a door leading to the kitchen. I sighed and smiled weakly letting out a low hello. The tension in the house burst, the party started up again, like I never was there. I took refuge on the couch; I was alone sitting. I had the view of a scientist observing variables in a controlled experience. The party went on and no one spoke to me nor did I to them. I was invisible. I sat there and didn’t move waiting… for Sarah… and Rachel.

A few hours passed, I noticed a girl I met during freshmen orientation week. We had spent the night together in the newly renovated dorms as roommates. We stayed up all night talking about first loves, boys, and college. Our eyes locked and I instantly lit up. I beamed, she didn’t respond rather she skimmed over my outfit amused then disinterested. She had on a jean jacket and booties. Her bob was freshly cut. I sat there frozen not knowing what to do, feeling I was dressed too modestly. She whipped her hair around and swung her arms around a sturdy dude playing beer pong, they embraced and began to make out like savages.

I sat on the couch perplexed and shaken. I recoiled in my mind and started thinking of ways to escape, how to fake sickness, should I force myself to throw up, should I act like I got a call on my phone. I reached for my pockets, I didn’t have pockets! Damn. I had left my phone in my room, I felted stupid. I couldn’t leave the party, it was dark and I didn’t know where I was. Flashbacks of past moments, crept in my mind repetitively, advice from my mother and father about situations like these. “Be careful around them” My mother used to say. “No matter how light you are, you are black.” My dad would say to me over and over again when I was in grade school.

How many times did people say mean and cruel things about my hair and my features, too many to remember? How many teachers in high school attempted to keep me away from Honors and AP classes, about three. I fought hard to get in honors geometry and chemistry. How could I forget I used to be called “spider head” on the bus in 6th grade, bullying me after school. Wasn’t it because I was a nerd…wasn’t it because my hair was out of control.

A wave of anguish hit me, as I remembered the time a classmate called me a monkey and once the n-word. Children snickering radiated through my brain. What was once suppressed in my mind, came out like Pandora’s box sharped and fast. I was so deep in thought, I didn’t see Rachel and Sarah appear. Sarah standing over me broke my thoughts. “Hey, you want to go to another party this is whack.” I looked up at her. Her smile was so warm and soft. I think she knew. I nodded. I got up slowly. I followed Sarah, Rachel, and three other people out the door. I felt a tremendous pressure leave me. Thank God. As we approached the pick-up truck, Sarah and the driver walked off to the sidewalk, bickering.

“She can’t ride with us” he said softly, making sure I couldn’t hear. Tonight, my ears were alert so I heard the conversation.

“Why not” Sarah snapped back.

“There isn’t enough room.”

“Really, there is room in the back.”

“I don’t want her in my truck.” He hissed. Sarah turning red shrieked

“We will get inside, and she will ride in the back.”

Rachel irritated along with the rest of us sprawled on the hood of the truck. Her body was light the truck didn’t even dip, looked up at the sky, following her lead I looked at the sky too-for different reasons. Lord please let this night end. Amen. I silently prayed. Finally, I offered to sit in the back, it was the first time I spoke all night, my voice was flimsy but full. Sarah motioned to the driver everything was settled. In agreement, we all loaded the truck, I in the front them in the back. Sarah rested her head on the driver’s shoulder, the tension from them collapsed.

Although, I was uncomfortable, I was relieved to leave the baseball house, I never wanted to go back there again and I definitely didn’t want to see those people again. The truck grumbled along the street, flexing in and out of gears, it sounded like my daddy’s Chevy, I was soon comforted by the lighten mood. The basketball house was on the opposite of the neighborhood, about five minutes up the street near the neighborhood entrance. When we pulled into the driveway, I heard the music roaring from the core; The house was bursting with a good time. I could feel the ground shaking vibrating wavelengths through the night air, the trees rattled.

I got off the truck along with everyone but the driver. The host, the black point guard from our school came out and greeted us, then Sarah’s boyfriend. He welcomed everyone and told us to hold our liquor if we would drink he chuckled. Sarah’s boyfriend, staying in his seat, waited patiently for Sarah to come around the truck for a kiss. Rachel already at the front of the door was agitated, the people who we were with us had already went inside with the host. I decided to wait for Sarah along with Rachel. We entered the house together, there were black people everywhere talking, some were dancing, others were on the couch watching Sports Center. Sarah right next to me whispered.

“Rach and I are going to say hi to a couple of people then we are leaving, you can stay here if you want.” I nodded. Five minutes later Sarah and Rachel left. I sat on the sofa in front of the flat screen, next to few people debating the NBA playoffs. Once again, I was alone, but I was conversating with people, exchanging thoughts and ideas, mostly laughs about the Lakers, Lebron’s hairline, and Kobe.

For the rest of the night, Drake’s album thumped on the stereo. Someone handed me a drink, I kicked back and watched ESPN, by then the sofa and the lazy boy furniture were crowded, and the dance floor was empty, people had started to leave. Around 2am, a player from the women’s volleyball team offered to take me back to my dorm. I accepted. That was the last time I talked to Sarah.

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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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