Walking Between the Worlds

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We all have “images” in our heads regarding everything from trucks to colors to shapes to people. Show any toddler a series of pictures and she can pick out the trucks from the cars, and the dogs from the cats. Even though a car might look somewhat like a truck and a certain dog breed might resemble a cat. We can usually tell the difference. Ask her how a certain color makes her feel. Ask her what she thinks of an angular shape or a rounded shape. She will have very different opinions.

I, like everyone else have many likes and dislikes, moods and feelings about certain things. I have had to learn how to present one face to one world and another face to a different world. This is true of many Black people.

For instance; I belong to several different groups. In one group I am the only pan-African. As with many Whites, they like and trust me because I am not “scary.” However, I find that if on occasion I bring up something like slavery or The Black Panthers some in the group get restless and uneasy. They see a different side of me. I have now become in their eyes, one of those militants: those angry and arrogant Blacks that they try so hard to steer away from.

At times I have heard whining from these people who feel the need to voice their concerns. One person wrote to me saying she is seeing the “darker” side of me. She actually put that in quotes. This was because I got tired of the group ignoring the needs of anyone other than Whites.

When I am in the midst of a group of White friends I am often reminded of my awkward position. We don’t watch the same movies or read the same books. We have very different opinions about the news. On one occasion we had all seen The Secret Life of Bees. It had an amazing Black cast of stars but all they could talk about was Dakota Flemming.

Then there is the dreaded Black History Month. (Cue the dramatic music.) I don’t care how liberal your White friends claim to be, they hate this month. They say they don’t like our Blackness forced upon them. They never realize that we have their Whiteness thrown in our faces 24/7 365. One comment to me was, “I don’t think about being White all day. Why do you people always think about being Black?”

It’s no easier being around Black people. Most of them have only seen us from across the street or have fond memories of tormenting us in middle school. They have never seen a real live close up albino person before and don’t know how to act. They have been taught that we are cursed or retarded or stupid or mixed or the result of incest or as Welsing says, we are mutants, and the forerunners of the White race. Some Black people treat us as enemies or intruders. If we don’t act contrite (apologetic for our albinism) they think we are arrogant.

Last year I found myself falling into my same old pattern of remaining silent instead of being my proud Black self. This year I once again vow to honor my people. I will read Black authors, Buy from Black companies, discover new Black artists and musicians and make “Black” art. I will Say It Loud.

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