Science was one of my favorite subjects growing up, so you see, I could know every little detail about my DNA and still be too powerless to change it for the sake of someone else’s affection. And it only took one boy for me to learn this, in the most painful way.
This boy was one of my best friends and I thought I was in love with him. I changed myself in every way to become more like someone he could see himself with. Every move I made was carefully calculated with him in mind. We had dated in eighth grade and he broke up with me the summer after, but I still had feelings for him. And I had never known why we broke up anyway, because we were still so close and shared everything with each other.
Every chance I could get I prodded him “Why?” It was an understandable question: we didn’t hate each other, our relationship was no different now than it had been when we were dating, we would talk on the phone for hours until one of us fell asleep, I was always there for him, and I knew I wasn’t the ugliest thing-in fact I had become more beautiful since the breakup.
So one day he finally told me the reason. “I don’t want to have mixed children.” Naturally, I was offended so I asked him to clarify. “Because they will be picked on.” A million responses ran through my head. Why should a mixed child be picked on any more than a child of one race? What makes a mixed child so different? Why can’t it be personality that has to do with whether one is socially accepted or not?
I couldn’t even refute his statement because I wasn’t sure if it was true or not. I had been picked on in school; he knew this, and now I thought maybe it was because I’m mixed. It is people like him, I’ve decided, who think that because someone is racially different than others that it means they will not be accepted. People like him oppress the people like me and it is the only reason why we feel so little as if we don’t belong.
For hours after that conversation, I sat there thinking how I could change myself this time. But I came up with nothing. That night I dreamt of draining all of the blood out of my body, and refilling my veins with the blood of another singular-raced person. But it was only a dream, and still I knew even if it were possible it would not be the solution, because it would not change the DNA I would pass on to my children, they would still be mixed regardless who the father was.
For years after that, his words haunted me. Every time I considered dating some guy I would wonder if it mattered that I was mixed. I would wonder if he liked mixed girls. And it sounds crazy, but I would try to find out if he had dated girls of all different races because it meant I had a chance.
I have since overcome this, but those words will forever bother me, and in the back of my mind my race is still my insecurity.
By Tia Hannah