A Poet's Life

Mona Bethke

Home / 365 Days of Transformation / January 18, 2017 – Half-Breed, High Yella, Mixed, and Redbone

January 18, 2017 – Half-Breed, High Yella, Mixed, and Redbone

blondeandfro-copyWhat loathsome labels – half-breed, high yella, mixed, and redbone.

I’ve spent a lifetime trying to figure out where I belong. Not quite black enough, not quite white enough, too much black, too much white. I have no defined race I belong to. I am an OTHER on applications and forms, or as of late I could checkmark the box that says biracial.

I went through a serious identity crisis in my sophomore year of high school when some black kids called me an Oreo cookie (black on the outside, white on the inside). I grew out my natural hair, wore red/black/green clothing, listened to nothing but Motown, joined the Black Student Union, and felt pride in raising my hand and shouting “black power!” Within six months, I knew this was not who I was supposed to be according to dad, so I straightened my hair, dyed it blonde and carried on as a white girl.

Again, I carried the burden of my father’s issues. He hated being black. He raised me with the following edicts:

  • stay out of the sun
  • keep your hair relaxed
  • DO NOT date or marry a black man
  • make sure your friends are white
  • listen to the right music
  • don’t be concerned with black history, it is of no importance to your existence

My father told me in no uncertain terms that being black in this country was a curse. My father told me to fit in as best I can with white people and that I had the benefit of being light skinned, with light eyes, and light (good) hair. Again, confusion reigned.

Three years ago, I cut off all of my hair and let my natural hair grow out. I felt it was time to walk away from trying to be something or someone that just caused confusion. I’ve experimented with fro’s, dreadlocks, and various hairstyles that define my ethnicity. I felt incredibly liberated and do to this day. I have worked on discovering this other side of my ethnic makeup by reading and studying black history through the ages since the inception of slavery in America. I have great pride in being a part of such a strong and regal people. I am also very blessed to carry the genes my mother gave me. I embrace this duality and realize that because of my “ghost” status in the color wheel of humans, I have the gift of being a part of something unique and beautiful.

Stay Tuned…#365daysofstransformation

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