Serious Patrick

Take a look at me. If you were to have no knowledge of my ethnic background, what would you assume? My bet is that, if you are African-American, you will assume that I’m Black or Mixed. Those of Latino origin often assume I’m Latino. Don’t even get me started on the number of Palestinians and Lebanese who speak to me in native tongue and are surprised at my quizzical response. In fact, at a former job, I regularly had lunch with a Lebanese-American brother and sister for two years before it was revealed in casual conversation, to their utter disbelief, that I myself was not.

I’m African-American. Both my parents? African-American. Grandparents? Yep. Greats? Uh-huh. In fact, one has to go back to my Great-Greats before one starts to ask questions about lineage.

Now, some of you are thinking, “Nah! Look at you. Your skin isn’t much darker than a White Southerner’s Summer tan!” Well, neither is my Mom’s, or her Mom’s, or her Dad’s. “But what about your green eyes?” Well, my Mom’s Father’s eyes were blue.

Yeah, I’m different.

Growing up, this was especially weird. Kids being kids and all. I did not really feel “at home” anywhere. My White friends were nice and accepting enough. Of course, the occasional “nigger” comment would slip but they were quick to reassure that they didn’t mean me. Definitely not me. I was “different”.

Other Black kids were not as nice. But I soon came to realize it had nothing to do with my skin. I “talked White”. I “acted White” I “dressed White”. I was an Oreo. A wannabe. Different.

You see, I come from a long line of “preachers and teachers”. An entire college educated advanced-degreed family stretching back generations. Of course such positions also pay a decent wage and as thus, we were firmly middle-class. To those kids, that meant “White”. That meant different.

Of course, I worry and wonder more than a little bit about my children and how they will handle this. My sons, because of their dark hair and darker complexion, less so then my daughter who is blond, blue eyed, and looks as Scandinavian as her mother. My teenage sons, never dealt with much scrutiny when they would have to explain they were of mixed race or marked the African-American box on school forms.

Time will tell what will happen when my toddler reaches a similar age and this angelic looking blue-eyed blond checks that same African-American box. Her mother and I have already speculated and are prepared for the trips to school so that we may show our faces to the Principal to prove that yes, she is in fact, different.

Of course, ideally, and I really do believe that eventually, none of this will matter. Those boxes will disappear. If for no other reason than a whole lot of mixing will eventually make all of us so different that, in fact, we will all be the same.

Note: This is partially in participation and response with today’s Reverb 10 prompt: Beautifully Different