The duality of being | Reflections on #race | Writing

Living up to her parents’ promise led to a severe case of perfectionism at a very tender age. Mommy’s classic looks, daddy’s lineage, the trappings of power, and the Ivy League educations both of them received. She had never connected the disappointment of not receiving the same support her parents had received from their parents with the assurance of success. She blamed herself not only when she failed, but also when she didn’t succeed. To her, standing in place was failure. Not being as… was failure. No matter the impossibility of a goal or the unfairness of a self-expectation, she blamed herself.

When it came to her looks, she was as hard on herself as when assessing her achievements. Depending on where she happened to live, looking like everyone else was a challenge. In some places, looking too much like the other half of her heritage brought on some very uncomfortable questioning. “Your mom’s so… light! You almost look Arabic! Where do you get your darker skin tone? What kind of last name is…”

In those places where lineage and class were of utmost importance, socialization was iffy. You either belonged or didn’t; no matter how far down the rungs you tried to fit in. In the one place where ethnicity was dominant, even trying to fit in was pointless. The jig would be up as soon as a relationship turned serious, The first few times she brought a boyfriend home, the comment “but you look so different from your mom” was almost immediate. The disappointment in their voices was obvious enough to be perceptible. It was painful. When she briefly glanced over at the sliding glass door, the familiar apparition was there. Her green eyes as intense as ever and you just knew, from that brief glance, she was so angry and in so much pain that she couldn’t even cry.

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