For Those Who Are In Between
I grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland in the 90’s. When people ask where that is, I say it’s about 20 minutes from Washington DC, and that usually gets a nod.
I remember, in elementary school I went on a field trip to visit the nation’s capital. I was walking with two classmates and we stop a moment to observe a white man and black woman intimately holding hands. One girl turns to me and whispers, “That’s a shame, you know…so disgusting to see that.” She wasn’t referring to the intimacy but rather the very idea that an interracial couple was being intimate in public. To this day, I wonder if the girl had turned to me on purpose, knowing my biracial background, or whether she was just vocalizing some ideology passed down from generations about the need for racial segregation. Both hurt me to my core.
For those who are unaware, interracial marriage used to be illegal until a 1967 Supreme Court decision that overturned laws forbidding it. My parents, being the rebels that they were, married a bit later (but still not without scrutiny) in 1988. My Mom is black and my Dad is white. A year later, they had me. They are since divorced.
My mom would tell me of a time when schools were first being integrated and when even going to the beach in Ocean City, MD was once a difficulty, as it was separated by race. She remembers sitting in the back of busses and churches because she was forced to, and later on in life, she continued the practice because she never felt comfortable sitting in the front. Think about a system that has abused you so much, it makes an enemy of yourself and your desires so that you then begin to self-segregate for the system.
Throughout this period, I remember going with my mom to the hair salon. To me it was a magical place filled with strong black women who tended not only to black hair but rejuvenated the soul. I loved my Mom’s hair growing up. I still do. As soon as I uttered the words of praise, she would look at my fine hair and say “No, you’ve got that ‘good hair’.” Good hair is a term used in the black…