Passing for: trans-race and appropriation on Blog#42

The notion of passing, its feeling, is one that has been woven into the fabric of my essence since I was a toddler and I first realized that the glances directed at me had some meaning. With time, I learned what that meaning is.

I cannot climb the tree that is my family’s ethnicity and claim any one branch as mine. I cannot, for example, climb up my mother’s tree trunk, up to the left uppermost branch, and claim to be Georgian. I cannot cross over to the right and claim kinship with French Basques or French Jews. Similarly, I cannot climb up my father’s tree trunk, to either uppermost branch and claim to be North African or Moroccan.

I am a hybrid of all of my ancestors’ DNA. My me is made of bits of each of them. I am all of them and none of them, all at once. I belong to three tribes and none at all.

The “me” my partner and I made, had she been a different mix, would not have changed what I am made of in any way. My having a Black child, had one been born to me, would not afford me the gift of Blackness nor the right to appropriate it by some sort of child proxy. My me would still be the same. There is no path for trans-racial crossing, nor is there a need. We are who we are.

As strongly as I may identify with the struggles of people I love and admire, I cannot claim their lineage for myself. Acceptance, mine among the Black milieu, must come with earning trust and affection, one person at a time. That is how friendships grow and the bonds of kinship are made.

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