Between Colorism and White supremacy: I’m Hated by Everyone

I know who you see when they look at me. But that’s not who I am. Why should I have to explain myself to strangers for them only to say I’m lying.

Find the Black person in this photo

I’ve constructed a life for myself in which the question of  “who are you” doesn’t come up. It’s easier to let people make assumptions about me that to disabuse them of their misconceptions; to tell them the truth.

I know I am a Black woman, even if that is not who you see. According to colorism I’m “light, bright and nearly white”. I’m a living example that race is a social construct.

Stories of Light Black Folks

Now, when sitting on the sidelines is not an option, I want other Black people to see me as Black. Black people hate me for my privilege: to pass, to go unnoticed. What double edge sword. Did I benefit from the privilege of passing as white? My Dad would say, that was the point. He didn’t look white, but he wanted to be accepted everywhere, as he was told he could be.  It was the early 1970s after all.

Black, hippy, quilter

Those are the words I use to describe myself. I want to share the story of racism, discrimination, and always being on the outside.

Black?

I know, I know, I don’t look Black. I justify my racial identity to most of the people that I meet. Its gets old and uncomfortable and annoying to have strangers tell me who I am. Black folks would call me “light, bright and out of sight”. I feel Blacks don’t see me as one of thier own. When I’m in a predominately white crowd, I’m always listening for racist statements.

I found a place where no one care. I started hanging out with deadheads. The Dead crowd only cares if you have an extra ticket or “a little something for the head”. I also learned to tie-dye t-shirts as a way to pay for my fun.

near San Diego, 1991

Learning to quilt at 30 helped propel me into the adult world- in a positive way. Quilter is my main identy. I quilt almost daily. It’s always on my mind and brings me great joy to create my textile legacy.

Quilt by Terri M Jarrett

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