With today being the last day of February i.e. Black History Month, and also #WakandaWednesday (took this from Lupita Nyong’o on Instagram 🙏🏽), I have decided to release the written version of a poem I wrote at the beginning of February that was inspired by my dear friend Josiah Golson’s book The Souls of Free Folk. His masterpiece pushed me to really think about my own story of my melanin — how growing up with a white stepfather and Asian mother affected my views on being black, and how it honestly made me less aware of the black culture and some of the struggles within it. I sought to be a part of my black culture, but didn’t feel like I could because I was raised differently, and had never experienced things that my fellow black friends, brothers, and sisters had experienced. Add this with some questions from high school classmates and friends, and I became highly insecure in my biological blackness, and lack of living out stereotypical black culture.
I am grateful that the parents who raised me, and even my parents who lived away from me never made me feel like I was incapable of anything just because of my skin tone. They acknowledged our biological differences, but never made me feel less than; I was always assured that I was beautiful, intelligent, and capable. And being told these things growing up – especially by a white, male father figure – I feel like it caused me to have a mindset that didn’t see me as inferior to white people most of the time.
But now that I am older, I long to be more aware of the fight for equality that people of color are still fighting for. Not only do I want to be more aware, but I want to learn and understand how I can do my part and use my voice and love on the black community as well as other cultures and races.
And so, here are the thoughts that came to mind on February 3rd, after attending Josiah’s book release…
“Inspired by The Souls of Free Folk by Josiah Golson”
I returned to my home with a spark turned ablaze —
A spark that had always longed to be ignited by more than just the
Guilt and shame of inexperience,
Lack of understanding and some
Not to mention some lost identity…
The years I’d wasted thinking I was exempt from such
Hostility simply because of the color of
My family’s skin.
As I grew older and these issues took the spotlight with pressing matters,
My attempts to care and want to have an opinion also grew.
But what could I offer, what could I do
As an interracial girl raised amongst
Mostly white culture
Who’d honestly forgotten and
Somewhat abandoned that piece of her…
At least mentally I did.
But physically, it was there and it still is.
And I feel a responsibility a
Duty to my ancestors, to my family
To speak up, to support
All my black brothers and sisters.
I’ve stayed silent for too long,
Afraid of others’ thoughts on my story my
Lack of struggle,
When really, the life I’ve lived is one that all black people are fighting for:
One in which there is no question of if I’m capable of achieving something
Just because I’m black.
No fear of what other people can do to me
Because I’m black
No caution in any interactions just to stay alive no
Depression from not being chosen
Because the competition was white.
I’m not saying I’ve had the perfect life all black people long to live but
My story is one of massive privilege that not many of my brothers and sisters can say they’ve had.
And it aches my heart and soul to see that
The life I’ve lived isn’t the norm for all.
And with this flame, I long to speak life and love and care to
My black brothers and sisters —
To firmly stand beside them as they continue to fight for equality,
To proudly be aware of my own black heritage to
Embrace it with all that I am.
To remind each and every one of them that,
Your lives do matter, and
You are kings and queens, you
Are capable of accomplishing anything and becoming anyone you want to be because
Your dreams aren’t defined by
The color of your skin, no.
Yes, claim your heritage proudly, and
Remember those other things
Come from within.