Blog Entries

Wanting to Be White

Wednesday, September 01, 2010
I wanted to be White at one time in my life. Ooooooooooooooooo.
But please, put your pens and iPads down and read the rest of my post before you panic, get agitated and/or write me that horrible "Are you a crazy sellout with identity issues?" letter. I don't have identity issues. In fact, I'm very clear about my ethnicity and cultural background. As a multiracial Brown chick raised in Los Angeles that identifies as Bajan-American, I'm happy to be me. I'm Black, I'm Brown, I'm European; I'm a multiracial West Indian. But mostly, I'm just Tracey, one Brown girl out of millions. And everywhere I've ever been in the world, there are people that look like me and everywhere I go, I have this uncontrollable excitement about always wanting to be whatever culture I'm in the midst of (see Being Polynesian). It's just my very intense way of celebrating, I guess (shrugging my shoulders). Okay, so back to wanting to be White...and freaking people out...LOL.
So I just re-connected with some pre-school neighbor- hood friends of mine on good ole Facebook (shout out to Susan, Tina & Linda!). And these girls were the loves of my life back then and I have wickedly fond memories of them. Thinking about it now, they were my first real friends. (First loves are so pure, aren't they?) Just so happens that Tina and Susan are White, so as 4 year olds that spent a lot of time together, it made sense in our young minds that we would want to look alike (kinda like the couples in love that wear those matchy-matchy outfits), so we tried to figure out how to do it, only with our skin and not our outfits. I tried scrubbing my hands with soap so that my skin would get lighter and when that didn't work, I remember remarking how I could walk around with the palms of my hands exposed and flipped over since it almost matched Tina's skin (I'm so tickled by this).  Tina did her part, of course, trying to rub dirt (not too much!) into her skin so that she could match my skin color. (For the record, it doesn't work.) We all went home telling our parents that we wanted to match one way or another...Tina could be Brown or I could be White, as long as we matched.  Kids are hysterical.
It was at that early tender age that I figured out for myself (with the help of my mom, of course) that true love is pure and comes from the inside and has absolutely nothing to do with skin color.  In adult terms, we could be matchy-matchy from the inside out.
I'm pleased to say I've had that understanding ever since. =)


CaliforniaCinnamonGirl on: September 1, 2010 at 11:35 AM said...

Wow !! such a memory ! very sweet Tracey... emotional!

Kinaya Ulbrich on: September 1, 2010 at 1:31 PM said...

I can't imagine that anyone criticize you for your honesty. Many little girls of color have experienced wanting to be white. It's almost a Rite of Passage to embracing your selfness. At any rate, thank you for sharing these memories. I can so relate to them and appreciate it!

Unknown on: September 1, 2010 at 2:24 PM said...

Glad you liked it, Susan! My matchy-matchy friend. =)

Anonymous on: September 3, 2010 at 5:35 PM said...

I'm white, celtic, and have great rhythm and amazing musical gifts that I tried hard to use, and loved Jamaican music as a teenager. My first love, musically was Reggae.

I identified with my heroes in Jamaica and UK of Caribbean extraction more than rock music. Took me a years of hard work to appreciate "whiter" music, like metal. I dance black, not white.

I felt very strong cultural connections to being black. Irish people were slaves in the Caribbean for a period of time, were frequently discriminated against (such a long story for another day...) and with half the population decimated and a history of oppression, I felt the songs spoke to me in a way which represented how I felt.

I felt culturally black. I wanted to be black for ages. I would say, "I'm not white, I'm Irish".

Now middle aged, I just want to be myself, although in photos, I often look at myself and think "I look like an alien".

I feel so happy about the person I've become, that I have integrity, I'm honourable, I take care of people, although I am very human.

I still wish I could break out of this cage and change things, and change back. I'm proud of being from Ireland, but was delighted when I read about this new research done, which will allow new drugs to be created to make your body produce tons of melanin... or block melanin altogether.

When the day comes that there are viruses that carry genes that we lack, so we can genuinely change race at will. The most popular genes from all races will be sought after, and we'll all get taller, stronger, better looking, etc.

When that day dawns, I guarantee you that genetic modification will go beyond the current human, to cosmetic COSPLAY characters. I'm sure it'll be lots of fun for our grandkids to have the best of all worlds.

Back to culture...Just as culture brings people closer, it also seperates.

I have learned over the years, that there are many friends in the world. When you long for connection with someone, and you meet someone who becomes one of your great loves, then the cultural shells get smashed (usually), and you learn connect with the person directly. In fact the shell needs to be smashed in order to have a true connection. If the shell cannot be smashed, the relationship will not work.

I've always loved brown girls more than anything else in this world. There's something so beautiful about their skin, and when I see beautiful brown eyes, I want to jump in and swim!

My point is - we could all connect like this, without all the bs, just eye to eye, lip to lip, smile to smile, bringing chicken soup when the flu strikes, or a visit to the Eiffel tower to create delight in the person who loves you. Realising your hero in the heart of another person.. that's what's important in life. Connection.

This is what I like about you - you are honest enough to publically dump the baggage, and strong enough to be ready to respond if provoked.

Most people worry about offending others - swimming in a tank of sharks.
You are smart enough to know that even though you can't tell from the outside shell of the average passerby, that you are more likely to be swimming in a tank full of people who accept you, as well as friends who you've yet to meet.

I imagine myself as one of those friends, and I'm sure there are more passing through here, all wrapped up in different packages. All you need is some back up, and you can do anything.

I'm sorry about my complicated post, but I hope you get my drift.
Bless you..

Unknown on: May 20, 2011 at 8:14 PM said...

Really great post Tracey! This is such an interesting topic and I understand your feeling about the's hard for some to understand the bond that makes you want to completely absorb yourself in the community that you're a part of. There is a delicate balance required for many who teeter on the borderline of two cultures, and I think that freaks a lot of people out. I really love the way you explain it here and I really appreciate your perspective. :)


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