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ISSUE 116 VOL 7 PUBLISHED 11/1/2002

Sister Speaks

By Anonymous
Contributing Writer

Friday, November 1, 2002

Dear Sister, As a light-skinned minority, I constantly have to prove myself to others. I am not dark enough to people of color or ‘white’ enough in the eyes of whites. How can I deal with this aspect of my identity? Sincerely, Stuck in the Middle

Dear Stuck in the Middle, First and foremost, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to just be yourself. No matter how others perceive you, it is important to be YOU. Identity encompasses much more than complexion or appearance. It also includes the cultural influences of where we were born and/or where we grew up, our heritage, our name, experiences, family, friends, etc. These qualities all make up the whole person. Color is only a small part of identity, merely reflecting lineage, not racial category. We live in a country that has a history of discriminating against people according to skin color. From the days of slavery and colonization to the current wave of immigration that is overwhelmingly comprised of persons of color, discrimination according to ethnic background has been manifested into mainstream American culture, hence the problem that you are facing. Color has been used as a barrier to physically and emotionally separate individuals into a hierarchy resulting in inferiority and superiority complexes. Too long it has been accepted as the norm and become a natural way of how we judge each other. With education and a reality check, the upcoming generations can begin to change this outdated form of assessing ones identity. It is enough to get this treatment from an outside group other than your own. But what hurts even more, is when this behavior thrives among people in your own racial group. This is often ones comfort zone, comprised of those who are experiencing relative issues in life. We have been so conditioned into the act of rating ourselves according to color as derived from a history of colonization and an us versus them philosophy of incorporating power that we hurt those who more readily can be called our brother or sister. You are the future of racial harmony. As demographics and statistics show, it is not just black and white anymore. If you think about it, it has never been. We have various other American ethnic cultures to consider, including the growing population of Americans claiming more than one ethnic background. It is becoming less and less acceptable to determine someones heritage according to skin pigmentation. We have a lot to learn and the answer starts with you. Do not take offense to ignorance, but instead be open minded in letting people know that assuming is just as bad as discriminating. Never compromise your self-esteem and cultural ties because someone else failed to learn how to appreciate it. There are so many people following icons and idols and losing sight of their own potential because they believe some outside person is needed to validate who they are. No matter what color you are, it is a quality that you possess. It is part what makes you unique and beautiful and no one could take that away from you. Unless you know that no one will be convinced and change is delayed once again. Who you are on the inside and the contributions you make to the world around you take precedence over the amount of melanin you were born with. There is power in being confident in who you are. This way, the focus is more directed towards character and less on color.

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