Are you Black or White or what?

The vast majority of people who walk this earth have no idea what it’s like to walk in the shoes of the pan-African with albinism. We are a very small and unique minority. Our situations are unlike any other group, even Caucasian albinos.

We are out of uniform wherever we go. We are mistaken for mixed race, White, or Hispanic. We are thought to be the result of the rape of Black slaves. When people write or speak about us they label us mutants, freaks, or the mothers and fathers of the White race. None of these assumptions and theories are correct.

I have been in the company of Whites who mistook me for their own kind. They look with disdain when a beautiful Black person walks by them, then they lean close to me and say something vile and bigoted. They feel comfortable talking to and being with me when they would not think of being in the company of a pigmented Black person. For some reason they see me as less threatening than a pigmented person. When I speak my mind on racial issues they are genuinely surprised.

There have been several instances when I was treated as one of the gang until word got around that I was Black. Then I was “boycotted” so to speak. I found I was no longer in the In Crowd. In one instance an old school friend stopped communicating with me and never spoke to me again.

Black people treat us as if we are not really and wholly Black. When I am in the company of Black people, they ask me if there are any other “light skinned” people in my family: They insist that my father is not really my biological father. They assume I enjoy White Skin Privilege. They greet each other as “my sister, my brother” and greet me as “Miss or Ma’am.” They trust me less and many times have acted as if I were a threat or an enemy. Some of them think I am amusing and an easy target. They act offended when I assert myself, as if I had no right to do so. I am often dismissed while in the company of Black people as if I was of no consequence. As if I had no substance. As if I was a dundus.

On one occasion we were invited to a group of so-called progressive Black people. Some boycotted the meeting because we albinos were going to be there. They even threatened to quit the group if any of us joined.

Throughout my lifetime I have been asked, “Are you Black or White or what?” We truly walk a tightrope in this racially charged American society. We have to fight for our place. It will not be given to us freely. We must decide and assert who we are. Nothing about us is a given or taken for granted. We really can’t flow along with the tide. We swim against it no matter what we do. So decide who you are and stick to it. Whatever it is, say it loud and be proud.

note: A dundus is a name of African origin given to an albino. It is a ghost or spirit person possessing a human body but no soul.


Are you Black or White or what? — 6 Comments

  1. “The vast majority of people who walk this earth have no idea what it’s like to walk in the shoes of the pan-African with albinism.”

    As a Caucasian man, I cannot pretend to know what it is like, but as a person with empathy, I can imagine.

    Virginia, you are a fascinating lady. When did you embrace “Pan-African” as an identity? How did that develop? What does being Afro-centric mean to you? Thanks.

    • Hi John:

      I think you are using pan-Africanism and Afrocentricity as the same thing. Pan-Africanism is not a chosen identity, it’s a circumstance of birth. That’s like asking someone when and why they decided to be Italian.

      If you are asking about embracing Afro-centricity, I embraced it when I got tired of the society we live in telling us we were born criminals who only wanted to rape White women: when I discovered The Black Panther party: when I got tired of being followed around in stores as if I were a born thief: the first time I saw Angela Davis: when I realized that the world I lived in was a universe away from the world Whites lived in.

      Being Afro-centric means I seek out books and other types of information that gives me my true history. I wear dreads: not to prove to anyone that I am Black, but because it is unnatural to straighten my hair.

      I hope this answers your question.


  2. Hi Virginia. I understand what you mean for the most part. Pan-African means you are an African descendent? So Vanessa Williams and Halle Berry would also be Pan-Africans?

    I am not a fan of the Black Panthers, but I do support abandoning “Black,” which is meaningless as an ethnic identity, and acknowledge the African heritage. It is the more accurate and meaningful description.

  3. Hello,

    I am curious if the word dundus was created and is used specifically as a demeaning term for someone with albinism? Or was the word originally defined as “ghost person” or “body with no soul” and then applied to people with albinism as a derogatory term? I am curious because I am writing a book and was intending to use the term to specifically refer to a character as a “ghost person” or ” person with no soul” but completely unrelated to albinos.

    Thank you for your help

    • Hello, Mike:

      The word “dundus” is used specifically for persons with albinism. It applies only to them and as far as my research has told me, has never been used for any other type of person or purpose. Thanks for writing and asking.

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