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In support of Kamala Harris, nothing to prove


After the controversy and discussions about Kamala Harris being black, as one commentator said "she was black enough to be bussed"! It's not too long ago that if you were 1/4 percent black, you had to be documented as black .It is fairly new the last 15 years or so that bi-racial or mixed was embraced. I've thought about my experiences and struggles including the unique struggle of not looking as expected. You receive backlash from both sides. Growing up in New York as a first generation Haitian American I was often teased and made fun of for being light. I wasn't thought of as pretty but it didn't bother me because my parents always praised me for my academic achievements and art skills. I was also a tom-boy( as we called it back then) wearing my yankees baseball cap and arm wrestling with the boys :) I think my Dad must have wanted a son first as he shared his sports knowledge & enthusiasm with me. Also, growing up in Queens it was multi-cultural so even though I didn't look like the majority of my family there were fusions from so many countries that I did blend with. I had friends from Peru, India, Puerto Rico and they would all say I look like their family.

But then at 12 years old, my father got a promotion and we moved to Moorestown, NJ. What a culture shock! No one looked like me. I was shunned from whites and blacks. They wrote Zebra & Oreo on my desk and notebooks. My whole first year at school was that way. Then over summer this little boy across the street introduced himself and was only a year younger. He would come over to play every day and of course all i was great at stickball/kickball & of course arm wrestling. He had 2 other friends start coming as well. We had a blast. Then at the end of summer, he asked me if i would come to a dance with him. I was so nervous but immediately started dreaming of what type of dress I would wear. Although, I was a tomboy I did love to dress up for family functions. My mom always went overboard with fancy dresses, shoes and doing my hair. Yet that was short lived. A few days later Keith came over in tears. When I asked what was wrong, he said his parents said I couldn't go to the dance because their country club doesn't allow black people. Things at school did get better and I became friendly with everyone. There were still horrible moments in town though like when my cousins and I were called the "N" word just walking to the mall. Another time we were not let into a store for being black.This is in the mid 80's. Certain people always wanted to remind you not to get too comfortable. They did not care if we were from the islands, what language we spoke, just that we weren't white.

Needless to say it took me a long time probably until I reached my 30's to finally embrace how I look and let others struggle if they don't understand Haitians, Africans and all nationalities don't have to fit a specific category or look a certain way. When I see Kamala, I see myself. Growing up as any minority in America should bring us together not divide.

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© 2017 by Natalie L. Simmons. 

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