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Race All Around

The older I get, the more I see race. I really shouldn’t since I’m in an interracial marriage, but I’m well aware of when I’m the only black person around. The best moment are when I forget I’m black and just feel like a person (only around close family).

But sometimes when I’m working, race creeps into my mind. Did that person choose to ignore me because she’s white and I’m black? Does this person not like me because I’m a different race? Why am I in an office full of white people?

My increased thoughts of race aren’t really that great in a society that should be so past this. But I get excited when I see a person of color in my community because we are so few. I get even more excited to see Hispanics (of which there are fewer).

I grew up on Long Island, New York where everything was mixed and integrated. White people walked into bodegas, Jamaican people served beef patties to Hispanics, and black people lived peacefully in traditionally white communities. I never though about race much because people mixed so freely. Then I moved to Pennsylvania where people aren’t really prejudiced but still remains somewhat segregated. I’ve gotten looks from white toddlers who simply stare at me, probably because I’m the darkest face they’ve ever seen in their entire lives. (I’ll think that over the fact that I may be the ugliest person they’ve ever seen in their entire lives.) When I see a black woman with white children, it’s usually (but not always) the nanny.

Yes, I live in a community affluent enough to afford nannies. They’re not always black; sometimes they have Eastern European accents.

I don’t know how to stop seeing race. I’m not a Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton advocate—quick to point the finger to discrimination but sometimes I wonder how my race has played a factor in certain things in the past couple of years.

Maybe it’s the curse of this fallen world that I’ll see race play a prominent role as I get older. I think Barack Obama became president (and was re-elected) because he is black. I’ve lost black friends because I vocally opposed his candidacy the first time around. In the end, our differences came down to… race.

I’ve probably said before that in some ways, I’m more comfortable around white people because in my experience, they are not as outwardly judgmental as my black peers are. I’ve had people show up to my wedding and not show up to the reception after discovering that my husband is white. I have family that hasn’t treated my husband with the respect he deserves, and I suspect it is because of his pale skin color. All the people I am thinking of are black.

I should not be self-conscious. I should be secure in my own skin. I should not let others make me feel inferior with my consent. There’s a lot of should nots. But what should I do?

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