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Who am I? Well, that is an interesting question. When I look in the mirror I see cocoa brown skin, large dark brown eyes, and almost black sisterlocks. I see a human being. A person who is as individual as blades of grass in a meadow. What box do I check? Well I don't check any, because I can check them all, but when pressed I would check African American. On my mother's side my heritage is Unknown west African, Ethiopian, Choctaw, Blackfoot, East Indian, French, and English. My mother has naturally red/brown hair and eyes that can change from Tiger's eye brown to red in a flash when she's angry (and that's the truth). She has that caramel colored skin and keen features that confuse most people into thinking she's hispanic, Native American, Indian, or Ethiopian. She usually makes her own box and writes in "human". On my father's side, they are Nigerian. He is Yoruba with Arabic and Fulani mixed in for flavor. My family is from Abeokuta in the region of Owu which my maiden name comes from. My ancestors were the rulers of that area and one of the founding families of the Yorubalands in Nigeria when they migrated from Egypt across the continent. My father doesn't look typically West African with his Arab-like nose. His skin is a color I can't even explain. It's beautifully dark and smooth. I love my parents and my heritage. It has shaped so much of who I am today. Growing up was difficult because though I looked like the other black kids, I wasn't like the other black kids. My name is very Yoruba. From the moment my name was spoken and being the only African child in the entire school, I was met with lots of teasing and ignorant questions from kids. I spoke plain American English and in some instances British English which threw off my black American peers. "You talk white", was the usual observation. I didn't fit in. So here I was teetering on being African American and being black American and I chose the former rather than the later. I can't even say how much I tried to have black friends only to be told that I wasn't "black" enough, whatever that meant. I spoke too much like a "white girl". My hair was way too kinky. So I hung out with white and Asian kids mostly. I was a social outcast for being me. I got over it though.

When people look at me they see many different things. When I speak, people usually ask me where I'm from. I have no accent whatsoever so I'm easily mistaken for many different ethnicities from various communities. White people see a black person. Black people see a black person, until I open my mouth and then I get all sorts of questions. Africans see an Ethiopian girl. I can't tell you how many times I've been greeted in Amharic. West Indians see a girl from Guayana or Trinidad or some Caribbean country. When I dance or wear sari, Indians see a dark skinned girl from South India. In the end I'm just me.

Have I seen racism? You bet I did. The difference was that I got it from both ends. White and black people judged me at first by my appearance. White people assumed that I acted a certain way because all they saw was a black girl. Then I opened my mouth and spoke and they realized that the neat little box they put me in didn't apply. Black people did the same thing, but were disappointed that I didn't fit into the box and tried to make me feel bad about it. So I'm definitely coming from a different perspective. I was raised around many different people. My mother's half Japanese best friend, the countless Yoruba or just West African friends and family we hung around, the Mexican family we befriended living in Texas who used to make the BEST tortillas, the Indians at the temple we attend and everything else in between. So culturally I'm an American because my parents have opened up my world to being comfortable with people who don't look like me because to us it just wasn't important. The inside was what counted to my parents and that's what counts to me.
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