Advanced Essay #3: Living a "Checkered" Life


While writing this paper, trying to depict a life with family members who don’t look the same as you was one of my goals. Living with the denial of “the way you came out” vs how everyone else had. Seeing if the differences between you and maybe your second cousin would change how the people treat you when you’re together, opposed to when you’re separated.

By saying “checkered”, I did it with regard to skin color, instead of the common “black and white” or “black and red” reference with any checkerboard. Since it was pale skin and dark skin, then that would still work in conjunction with the title.

I think the essay went well. I think incorporating another language in it for the first time was rather difficult, but still came out well. Trying to find the proper translations and the correct “romaji” for the Japanese symbols was probably the hardest part of the entire essay. And also giving more insight on the interracial marriage aspect of my family was also very relieving.


A feeling. A warm feeling. Mainly towards my lower body. The glare of the sun shields the lower half of my body, as the escaping darkness of the room fleets from the oncoming forces from light. Altogether, the shades are ripped open. The glare overtakes the room, as the golden sun shines on the disarranged items.

“おはよう、サムーくん!” (Ohayou, Samu-kun!; Good morning, Sam!) A voice tore through the silence, exactly the same way that the sun tore through my seemingly ransacked bedroom. Books tossed, animal hair on the ground, a tan, illicit fluid dripping from the pipes of my bedroom, and onto my clothes in the closet. An indistinguishable mess.

“What are you still doing in bed, man? We have an event today! Don't tell me you forgot?”

“I did. I’m sorry. What time is it?”, I asked.


“Oh, shit. I’ll go into the bathroom now, then.”

Snatching the blanket from the cover of the bed, I jumped off the bed frame and scurried to the door. Long, rather fake nails dug into my skin as she attempted to reach for my shirt collar. I jumped back, the blanket flying forward from my abrupt pause of motion. I turn to see her pale face. With one hand digging into the skin covering my neck, her other hand clutched a half-drunken can of 仲介 (chuchai; fruit-flavored, alcoholic drinks). I tried not to face her, scared of what might erupt from her alcoholic-fused nature.

Alcohol was always a driving factor for our family, and the inducer of all the arguments that spurred out of control in our home. Casablanca, Choukachou, Chibuku, Ibwatu, Happoshu (発泡酒), Sake (酒), and Umeshu (梅酒). These names became more commonly spoken than the names of those who lived with us. A “brewer” which uprooted more problems in our family with every sip someone took, alcohol took its place as “the one who calls the ‘shots’”.

“You should try and speak your native tongue with me. And your parents, toooo. You can’t try and hide yourself in an abyss, which we can consider your skin.”, she said, her voice slurring with every sentence exiting her mouth

Thinking about a time when I would converse with both parents in two separate languages came to show that I wasn’t in touch with my roots as much as I used to. Hearing heavy, throat-exerted “gua”’s form the African dialects, Gio and Mano, and the eerie, sharp ringing of “違うよ” (chigau-yo; wrong), heard from all the way from downstairs in the basement, so we can't hear the arguments shifting from one race to another.

I began to observe the hand on my shirt. It was pale. Very pale. Even more pale than someone on their deathbed. The contrast found between her skin and mine would give the term “checkers” a run for its money. I grab her hand and hold it tight, trying not to let go. This is family.

This is the difference between the two sides of the family. This is…

“...What I should be.”, I muttered to myself.

My cousin snatched her hand away and shoved me into the bathroom.

“Stop talking about ‘what you should be’, before I ‘should be’ you into next week!”

The door slammed behind me, and I was left with the confusion of her last statement. I grabbed my towel and turned on the hot water. Diving into the bath, I began to ponder my own existence, and if I would ever find a crossroad like that again. Would I ever find a comparison like this outside my own family tree? Would the term “race” even appear to be something that is pinned on me for only one specific group?

“Love has no barriers, I guess. Nothing can separate two people from one another. That’s why I’m here. That’s why we’re all here.”

I sunk into the scalding water held in the fiberglass covered bathtub, the same way I would hide myself behind the representation of my personality, my way of speech, and my seeming “first impression”. My own skin would speak for me, and even write my stories.

The thoughts of future achievements with life taking place in the United States, or “The American Dream” has been different for multiple members of my family ever since they were bonded together by marriage, and even before that. There was never a certain  degree of agreement between the two, and it only brought about more flaws and cracks in the family. Someone was always right, and someone was always wrong. And when you were considered “right”, then you molded the family into what you wanted. An empire of truths and lies were forged right before our eyes. Well, maybe below them. 2 floors below them. As the smell of alcohol rose through the house, the children fled to the top floor, hoping to survive another night in the endless battle of the “right vs. wrong” household. The house becoming a checker board. Spotting the different colored pieces across the board, confused as to what their correlation is with one another.

And someone is, and always will be right. Someone will always win.


The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2017. <>.

"How Fluid Is Race?" The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 June 2015. Web. 19 Jan. 2017. <>.

The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2017. <>.