We best understand those when you know where they are coming from.
Diving in to my upbringing…In some cases what I am going to share with you about my race would not relate to politics or religion. However, race is important when I am defining for you all who I am to society. It pertains to what helped shape my perspective for the relevant topics I will talk about ahead.
I was raised in a small town in California. From a young age I learned very quickly that every family is different. My family is white and black. Therefore, I had two different cultures that I was exposed to. My mom’s side of the family being white, my dad’s side of the family being black. The color of my skin never was an issue until 2nd grade. Kids start to question if I was adopted and point out how I look nothing like my red-headed, white mama. While the questions and statements are valid, they still bothered me. I slowly began to feel very different and not “normal”. To the black community I wasn’t black enough and to the white community I was black. Fitting in was so hard and I think a huge reason I was and am still at times shy and hold back. At that age having questions like, how do I approach white girls so they know I can relate to them because I am white too? Or telling every person that asked (often), “I know I am tall and black but no, I don’t play basketball.” Let me be clear, this is not for pity this is what made me who I am and I am proud of who I am.
There was a point while growing up, I felt I did not connect with my black community. All I knew is I felt misunderstood. No one could understand the way I dressed, the way I wore my hair or the way I talked. Meanwhile, I lived in the same neighborhoods as them and my family was on food stamps like many of them. I would get comments like, “Before I knew you, I thought you were stuck up” or “Your hair is not real” then proceed to let everyone put their fingers in my hair so they believed me.
[Small tangent: In middle school, everything about a person is awkward but man…I will admit MY hair was rough! I did not know what to do with my half white half black head of untamed curls. I slicked that puppy back so hard my eyes could see from the back of my head.]
The point here is, it’s been a whirlwind being biracial in America. It’s a constant clash of culture happening outwardly and an internal battle as well. Many cannot tell what race I am. To me, I have one identity but to society I am this: A young black woman. Each of those words has a stigma. Black people and women are an under served population of people. Oh and being a millennial is just the straw that breaks the camel’s back. (#amiright?) We are quick to judge the cover of the book without opening it. This correlates with my view on politics which is why I had to share. For more on what its like growing up biracial, check out my sister-in-law’s YouTube video: Emily Fenner
I have been continuously placed in uncomfortable places. So here I am once again being completely vulnerable and uncomfortable with where I am at, what I am doing and uncertain of the outcome or the future. All of the examples I gave you, I persevered through the uncomfortable in order to learn more. It was not until I took a step back and took off my own lenses to see through a new lens. I was there to learn, listen and walk in other’s shoes before judging them even if they judged me first. My perspective on politics is equivalent. I’m certainly not perfect and know the world is not either. There are times we will all fail to live up to this standard of not judging someone before you know them. Politics has been this division of parties which divide the people. Calling people fruitcake/rightys/leftys for what they believe is unnecessary. We need the different opinions in order to run a democracy but the hateful language over social media has got to go. No one gained anything out of a heated Facebook argument and witnessing them inspired this blog. This is a space created to form and have healthy dialog where we are speaking from experiences and learning from one another. I challenge all of us to think about where your stance is and why.
It is possible to have healthy conversations about politics with people you don’t agree with. It is also very easy to have heated arguments that blow out of proportion. These are damaging and yet we learn the hard way from them don’t we? In the posts to come you will find politics in my perspective is different from yours. You may find they are the same. People with opposite thinking might just listen if you listen first. Midterms are right around the corner so stay plugged in for the next post titled, Election Day! I will share a little more about where I stand on the political spectrum.
I want to leave you with a couple of verses from the Bible:
James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
Let me know what you think!