Descriptive Essay: Shades of Imagination

Walking down the hallways of Science Leadership Academy, as a sophomore, identity is not a day to day question. At SLA there are kids who want to be artist and some who want to be astronauts. Filling the stairwells are different shades of browns and whites and every culture imaginable. It has a constant sense of acceptance and understandings. I walk down the hallways with blue walls and white tiled floors with the slight reflection of the lights shining down, talking to my friends, going on about the latest gossip, “ Omg, are you serious!” Is usually followed by a comment from a friend saying, “You are so white”, and faint giggles. I laugh along, ignoring the fact that this comment is only somewhat true. Introducing myself, the next question out of most people’s mouths are generally “Are you puerto rican? Are you white?” I stare down at my skin wondering how anyone can think these things, I then sigh I saying them my race, biracial. These questions are nothing compared to the things I’ve gone through by assumptions that people have made about the color of my skin.  

I look down seeing the pools filled with people, a sea of white, yet I feel so alone. I turn to see my dad sitting behind me, eyes red filled with shame. Looking out the top of the water slide and notice the heads of the people standing behind us meer seconds ago. Now instead of impatience on their face  there are smiles. To the middle of the water slide where we now sit people’s laughter carries down the slide. I look down at my now dry hands with the only water being seen is the slow drip from my hair on to the waterless slide. The vague noise of the two people before us splashing into the water. The reassuring sound of my dad’s voice saying go ahead he will meet me down there. I slowly push myself down the slide, what felt like hours turned out to be seconds as I fell into the pool of water four feet deep barely able to stand. While my dad comes up behind me carries me out of the pool as we exit the water park of people eyes on us like we are a person walking on water. We quickly picked up our blue and pink flowered towels and holding them around us as tightly as we could. My face turned red with embarrassment and confusion, but my dad’s with anger.

I am a biracial girl my mom white, my dad black,  who is usually guarded by the ignorance of the world by living in Philadelphia; where people have naked bike races and tattoo’s covering their bodies. Acceptance has always given, but once taken out of my comfort zone to a place like Ireland where a water slide was turned off on my dad and I, was a whole new concept to wrap my head around. Growing up I heard stories of how my dad was not always accepted because of the fact he was African American. Never would I have thought that fifty years later there would still be this argument in our society. It is now not shown as a head on thing that people openly say, but rather expressed with snide remarks and rude comments.

However, after being a five year old and coming face to face with racism I began to notice things even more. Some hitting close to home and more often than I would like, such as at my grandmother’s beach house. As I walk down the beach with my mom, her two sisters, my brother, two uncles, two cousins and brothers I begin to feel them, the stares. I put my head down in shame as I am meant to feel like I did not belong there. I was still confused as to why I was looked at differently than my cousin with long blonde hair and fair skin.

Now it’s become part of going to the beach with my mom’s side of the family, and made a joke in my family. My brother and I constantly make smart remarks holding up a fist for “black power” every time we see an African American person at their beach house, because this has come to be such a rare occasion.  My cousin smirks hesitantly, not quite understanding our small joke in order to brush off the unfamiliarity of such lack of diversity. She looks at me as if I am the same as her, she doesn’t see the difference in our skin color or hair I wonder if her ignorance is a good thing or bad. The fact that she does not notice how our differences affect our everyday lives.

Through all of this I no longer look to race to identify who I am.  I look at it as a very important part of me. I realize I am blessed to be able to have these two different cultures be a part of me. Defining a person is a very difficult thing to do, so let them do it themselves.