Mothering Forum banner
1 - 1 of 1 Posts

· Registered
1,252 Posts
Who am I? When I look in the mirror I see me. I see my faults (bags under my eyes, dry skin, eyes a little crooked, teeth a little yellow and so on all the way down to my toes) and I see some nice things (strength, some sort of beauty, intelligence). Describing myself in terms of community, race and culture has always been difficult for me. I am a broken follower of Christ; I am a mother, wife, sister, daughter. I am crunchy, intelligent, passionate. I am an artist and a teacher. I am very active in communities for each of these parts of me.

Racially, bureaucratically I am caucasian, but I've never really understood what this means. Culturally I have never really identified with American whiteness with mixed white roots reaching way back. Only one of my grandparents is American-born and only one of her parents is American-born with the typical haberdashery background. I was raised by a Scot who grew up with a Yoruba tribe in Nigeria. From Nigeria he was uprooted and transplanted into New Orleans in the early '60's. I was also raised by a Welsh-American who is culturally more French than American. Neither of my parents is comfortable with their own American cultural history often disparaging of it, always awkward in it.

My parents straddled two cultural worlds in their childhoods as did I. We were dirt poor, sometimes eating beans for months and spending weeks using the toilets at the library, pool and friends houses. I am well educated by learned parents. I was homeschooled back when it was very uncool and usually meant you were a freaky christian. We were culturally middle class in education and speech but we lived in a very poor, very urban environment. I learned to identify guns from the gunshots and estimate how close they were. I learned to hit the floor when they were too close. And few of my middle class white friends were allowed to play at my house. We were the only white family on our street. I learned to speak essentially in two different languages: one for my middle class white friends and one for my neighborhood friends. And as a child, I was allowed to speak "black" but in junior high that was no longer acceptable to anyone. I was white and should stay in that box. This was exceedingly painful. I didn't understand that rejection. I still struggle with it.

I am fiercely proud of my cultural heritage. I cringe when people comment on ds's "Irish red hair" when he is most definitely Scottish! I loved living in France and connecting with my mother's friends, family and culture. I am eager to speak to other Nigerians to learn about my father's home country and people. I am proud that my white Scottish grandparents were so embraced and respected by the tribe they lived with that they were made a part of the Yoruba family. My grandparents were Yoruba, my father is Yoruba, I am Yoruba. But this also confuses me. Race is so divisive here that I also feel deep shame over this history. I feel that I cannot acknowledge my own African history because that is only viable if your skin is dark brown. I cannot recall my childhood days without being perceived as patronizing and ultimately racist.

Thinking through this has been painful for me, much more so than I thought it would be. The different strands of my cultural heritage have left me feeling wounded, confused and sometimes bitter. I often feel rejected by all the parts of my cultural whole: I am not Scottish, I am not French, I am not Yoruba, I am not middle class, I am not poor. I do not fit any of the boxes but I partially fit them all. I do not know where that leaves me.
1 - 1 of 1 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.