Our differences make us who we are. Today, people love to point out other's differences as if they are bad, but in reality they make us what we all are: people. People are people. The only important race is the human race. With that being said, our differences make us, but they don't and they never should have the ability or power to define who we are as people.
Spending my time in Florida, New Jersey, and Barbados, I've never felt complete. I've never felt complete because I've never felt entirely accepted by my friends, peers, and sometimes family because I am different. I’m a mixed kid, my father being West Indian/African American and my mother being Caucasian. Like I said previously, being different is not bad, but let me tell you, sometimes you do feel bad when you are constantly being alienated and called out for those differences. Florida, New Jersey, and Barbados have been three different lives for me.
We'll start with Florida first, the place I’ve been raised in my entire life. In Florida I'm a mixed boy. I don't fully fit in, because unlike many of my peers perception of a "black dude," I'm well-spoken and dress properly. I'm constantly called out for not being "black enough" or "acting too white" when I'm with people, even my friends. I know a lot of the time these people are joking, but I've come to find it unacceptable. I absolutely hate stereotypes. Despite all these things people say about my "level of blackness", when I get pulled over for driving I have to worry like any other black person would for their safety and well being.
Next is New Jersey. The place where my father's parents and family on my mom's side reside. And, fortunately enough, the place I'll be attending college. But let's get back to what I was saying. I must say that my grandparents do their best at making their antisocial 18-year-old grandson feel comfortable. But when I go outside it's a different story. My grandparents live in Irvington, NJ so it's not the nicest place sometimes. Taking that into consideration, a lot of the residents fit the stereotype I spoke about earlier. They are part of the "hood" or "gangster" culture and speak in Ebonics. Because of my desire to fit in I put up this facade or "front" and act like that. Whether it's survival or a desire to fit in, or a combination, I don't know. All I'm trying to get at is that it shouldn't be like that. Black people don't act any certain way. It's just people are exposed to "ghetto" black people through hip-hop ( I'm not going to lie, I love myself some Kodak Black) and this is an unfortunate misrepresentation of a group of people through a few uneducated individuals. Yet, people say I'm not "black enough" in Florida or I feel the need to act "hood" to fit in in New Jersey. We all need to be who we are, not who people think we should be because of our skin color, race, or ethnicity. The next portion of being in N.J. is spending time with my mom's Caucasian/Hispanic family (s/o to Freddy, Nelson, Gabe, etc. you all are great). These people do a great job at making me feel comfortable and at home, but unfortunately I can never feel completely apart of them because I don't look like them. This is unfortunate and unnecessary, because we are family and if nothing else we are human.
Finally, how I feel in Barbados. In Barbados I always enjoy myself because I get to see and experience the things Ted talks about from when he was a little kid. But again, I never feel fully accepted because I'm different. My relatives say we aren't "real" Bajans, because we don't live in Barbados or weren't born there and don't understand some typical Barbadian colloquialisms. It's ironic and funny because being "Bajan" is defined as "people originating in Barbados whether they live there or in the Barbadian diaspora" . So I'm a damn Bajan, but because of the people pointing out my differences I never feel comfortable calling myself a Bajan. I prefer to call myself West Indian or say "my dad's from Barbados" to my peers. On the flip side even my relatives who say I'm not a "real Bajan" experience the animosity from the local people, because they left the island to better themselves and are now different than the locals. Now we are all called "Bajan Yankees". And believe me, this does aggravate some of my family manners to no end (like my Aunt Carol), and again makes me feel different and unable to completely be apart of my culture in Barbados.
I could probably keep on talking about this stuff but basically I've learned that I am indeed different than many of my family members and peers. Because of these differences I will spend most of my life swimming between many different "worlds", because I will never feel fully part of just one of them. Everyone in the world is different and those differences shouldn't discussed in a way that makes us feel separate. Instead it should embraced by each and everyone, because it will only help to make the world a better place at the end of the day.