A Seat At The Lunch Table

A Seat At The Lunch Table

Disclaimer: Not for those racially sensitive or offended by not being politically correct. 🙂

When talking about racial groups my elementary was primarily Hispanic, unfortunately I didn’t speak Spanish. I thought Middle School would be better, but I was surrounded by African Americans that didn’t accept me because I wasn’t “black enough”. High school blended together, that was a complete nightmare. I was never enough. Not black enough, not white enough, not Mexican enough.

So then I prayed. I prayed God would give me whatever it was to be White, Mexican or Black enough. I didn’t understand. I was all of those things… But I wasn’t. So I joined as many clubs as I could, took all AP classes hoping to distract myself from the sadness and desolation that was slowly consuming me.

I always got the question “what are you?”. Well… I’m a girl who doesn’t feel accepted in a society that claims to be integrated and not give prejudicial treatment of people because they’re different. I’M HUMAN. So why did I feel so isolated?

Instinctually I immediately thought it was my skin color, my heritage, my entire existence. But I thought “I know a few mixed people and they have a place where they feel like they belong, they have a group”. So what was wrong with me? Why did I look around at lunch and not have a place to sit? So I went on a mission to determine the reason. So I stared at them (the racially mixed people) and they probably thought I was a maniac. But I was studying these light-skinned goddesses that weren’t being thrown out as outcasts. I even have a niece who asked me “Mariah, why do you act so ‘white’? You act like you’re better than everyone else. Why can’t you act your color?”

I was confused, I was angry, I was hurt. Even my own family noticed it, I didn’t belong anywhere. I remember coming home crying and asking my dad “How am I acting White? What does it mean to act Black? How does someone act Mexican?” As any adolescent would be in this situation I was confused. Just as any parent would be he told me I’m beautiful, and to just act like myself and people will love me. So I did.

College came around, I met some of the best people I’ve ever encountered. I finally felt like I fit in. But then it happened again. Isolation, it found me. It consumed me. I became the unwed “pregnant girl” everyone talked about. Of course not many college freshmen were having babies so naturally I found myself where I’ve been my whole life. ALONE. So sophomore year of college I made the choice to leave school. Not because it was too hard, but because anything was better than walking through a hallway of judgmental people formally known as “my friends”. To most it seems silly, but for me, the person actually living it… It was hell.

A year or so later I found a guy who became my significant other. I was spending Thanksgiving with him and his family. I looked around, thankful I was around a group of people other than my family who accepted me. Everyone was talking and laughing until I heard the “N word”. I paused, was I mistaken? I heard it again. This was no misunderstanding this guys grandfather was addressing me as the N word. I looked around with tear filled eyes looking for someone… Anyone… To defend me. Instead I received deer in the headlights looks from everyone. I politely excused myself and I left. Obviously that relationship ended and became nothing more than a memory. A memory that will forever be engraved like a laceration on my heart. After feeling like the outcast my entire life all I wanted was to feel accepted but I felt like damaged goods.

Several years later God brought a man to me. Not just a man, THE man. He saw ME. He saw that damaged, emotionally scarred girl and still wanted me. When he sees me, there is no color. There’s just Mariah. He has shown me the love that is unexplainable with human words, it’s beyond words, it’s beyond worlds. Sometimes those memories come back and I explain to him “nobody wants to hear what I have to say about the racial injustices against African Americans because I am with the so called ‘oppressor'” (a white male). I’ve been told that I don’t fully understand because I’m not “black enough” I’m only “half”.

There was a time I sat on the floor crying because I couldn’t find any clothes that I thought were appropriate for the function we were going to. He insisted I could go in sweatpants and I would still be the most beautiful woman there. He didn’t understand. I was angry, I felt like he was disregarding my feelings. He asked me to explain, explain why I was sitting in the middle of the room crying over clothes.

Being a woman of color is hard. We walk into a room and are immediately judged before we speak. I feel like we have to try harder to get the respect we deserve as individuals. I like to wear my hair natural… At a previous work place I’ve been told my hair looked nappy, messy and they explained how I needed to learn how to upkeep my hair. If anyone has curly hair or hair that gets “frizzy” when there is the slightest percentage of humidity then you understand my frustration with this “appearance and hygiene intervention” that happened at work. I feel like if I wear wrinkled clothes then I look like I can’t take care of myself. I bluntly said to him “If I go like this people are going to think I’m a ghetto, black girl who can’t take care of herself.” I remember looking at him feeling embarrassed that I just spoke those words. I always talk about loving everyone and how I never judge anyone but I just spoke the most judgmental sentence. I was ashamed.

Waiting for his response gave me this pit in my stomach that reached all the way to the floor. I waited anxiously trying to study his expression and formulate some ridiculous scenario that was about to happen. Instead, he got up and hugged me. He hugged me and apologized. Even if he didn’t understand everything I went through, or the way I felt, he was trying. At that moment realized I had the one thing I had longed for. I finally had a seat at the lunch table.

With love,