Black Enough to Matter: To All My Mixed Soul Siblings.
The world is a bit messy right now. Are we coming or going? There has yet to be stable ground to stand on to ascertain which direction we’re moving in.
Liminality is our temporary new normal, and the discomfort palpably surges through the collective. Of course our inner demons (triggers) are rising constantly because of all this, much like a snow globe constantly shaken.
I’ve always been the monkey in the middle. Went to an all-white private school in Ridgewood, Queens, where no one else looked like me. I knew I was Indian and Puerto Rican. Being Puerto Rican wasn’t popular at all in the 70’s, and Indian? I didn’t even know what that meant.
I remember telling little girls in my third grade class that I was a descendant of Pocahontas and that bought me exactly five minutes of popularity, then I was back to being the freak.
The fact that I was considered undesirable was never driven home more powerfully then when my third grade teacher lovingly touched a classmate’s smooth, shiny hair, shooting daggers at me, and said to the whole class how that’s what clean hair should look like. I was mortified, and if the floor would have swallowed me up in that moment, I would have been profusely grateful.
My mom used to wash my waist-length hair every night. She took cleanliness seriously, but because my hair is naturally wavy and frizzy, it looked dirty to my teacher and then to my classmates. I can pretty much guarantee you that no one in that class remembers that moment but me.
That’s the thing about pain — we, the recipients of the traumatic moment, remember in our very cells how we felt at that moment. I digress.
My mother was born in Guyana SA — you know, the place where Jim Jones so generously shared all of that Kool-Aid? Yep, that’s the place. Her ancestors were from India. They were brought over as indentured servants, when slavery was abolished because the plantation owners still needed laborers to work the fields. My father is Puerto Rican. I am also 20% Black.
To White people, I look Mexican or Black. To Black people, I look Mexican, White or Indian. I’ve been chased by girls chanting the N-word at me. Too white to be black, too Puerto Rican to be Indian, too Indian to be Puerto Rican… it’s exhausting.
I’ve never fit in anywhere, or felt like I belonged anywhere except in my own skin, but that took me literal decades to achieve.
So here’s to all my mixed soul siblings: You matter to me. You count. If we weren’t meant to be here, we wouldn’t be.
Yes, BLM 100%, and that includes my 20%. If I’m Black enough to be called racial slurs and to be ostracized, I’m Black enough to matter.
Shanti Shaharazade is beginning graduate school on the road to earning her master’s degree in psychology with a concentration in children and adolescents, which perfectly places her directly in line with being an ambassador for at-risk teenagers. She is a mother of three, noni of six grandpeeps, and has overcome many obstacles and transcended many contractions birthing higher expressions of herself necessary to be of the greatest service. She is not just a survivor of sexual traumas, but also lived as a homeless teenager on the streets of NYC, becoming a battered wife, single mother, enraged woman, to surviving two suicide attempts, learning how to live again with constant and profound gratitude in order to contribute to the world in the way only she can now, as an empowered goddess.