A Poet's Life

Mona Bethke

Home / Flashes Of Thought / October 8, 1973

October 8, 1973

I don’t know how to handle what’s going on in my head.  My friends don’t understand what’s happening either.  I know I’m different in some ways, but I think they like that about me. Being 15 with a black dad and a white mom in these times makes me kind of special.  At least I think so.

Most of the black kids hang out together and even though we live in Germany, civil rights is something we follow.  Well, they do.  I can’t relate too much.  My choice of music is Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin – choice of clothes, hip-hugger bell-bottoms and headbands, and I use the words groovy and far-out because it’s the hippie thing to do.  Everything happens a little later here but we dig the scene.

Last week, Curtis, one of the black guys in my school, called me an Oreo cookie.  He laughed and told me how out of touch I am with my roots.  An Oreo cookie, I found out, means someone who is black on the outside and white on the inside.  I was confused.  The only thing I could focus on was the pick sticking out of his huge Afro.  Not sure how to react, I ran to the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror staring at myself.  Chelsea, my friend from 2nd period, was brushing her long, straight brown hair and smiling at me.  After she left, I studied my shoulder length blonde hair. It took me almost an hour in the morning to press it straight.  The person looking back at me from the mirror was a fake.  I guess I am trying to be white.

Tonight while my family sat around the dinner table, I looked at my dad like it was the first time I saw him.  His chocolate brown skin was smooth and his curly black hair framed his hard face.  I asked him to tell me about his family.  I wanted to know if our ancestors were slaves.  I actually lied and told him I had to do a family tree for school.  All he told me was that our ancestors were slaves that were bought by a plantation owner in Maryland and black people can’t go back too far in their family trees because we aren’t like white people.  That’s when he told me he didn’t want to talk about it anymore, cause it doesn’t matter anyway.  I don’t like that answer.  I looked over at my mom, with her light blonde hair, fair skin and blue eyes.

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