I recently recovered my yearbooks and though I was instantly flooded with memories of bullying, feeling ostracized, hating my hair, my tooth gap (boy had I only known I’d end up loosing that tooth entirely) I had completely forgotten how racist I was toward myself and consequently let others be. I know I’ve described it before, but to put it into literal context, here are the words my peers wrote over the span of four years into my yearbook. In Black and White (pun intended) here is what my identity was for four years.

* Note, the person who said from your black friend is white *

For the record, I hold no ill will toward the people who wrote these notes, or the teachers that probably wrote beside them and shook their heads. I was not only allowing people to speak this way of me, but as you can see and as I have described, I was trying to be racist against myself before others could as a defence mechanism while also using that shock value to seem cool, interesting, woke before woke was woke. I wish I could go back and tell myself to have enough self esteem and self value not to turn to this type of harmful joking and rhetoric. I was allowing myself to be humiliated constantly for other people’s pleasure. If you know any Black students who allow these jokes to happen, remind them gently that they are more than their skin tone and while sometimes Black jokes are funny, they aren’t supposed to become your entire personality, being and identity.

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