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Dear Mommy" This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I would like to thank Kendra Lider-Johnson for the inspiring poem "Dear Mommy" in your January issue. I, too, am a mulatto, and have felt and experienced many of the things she wrote about.

Like Kendra, I know how it feels to be faced with the "bubbles" on standardized tests. The age and date of birth are quite easy to fill in, and I progress quickly through them. It is the section concerning race where I become confused. When I see "Shade one" on the top, my eyes dart from "black" to "white," "white" to "black" - which am I? That can be answered fairly easily: I am neither, because I am both. I have blackness and whiteness throughout my body, and one without the other is incomplete and useless. So, as I stare at the bubbles, I do not find a category that suits me, and I look at "Other." The tip of the pencil touches the paper, and before it goes any further, I stop myself. By declaring myself an "Other," I am becoming unimportant, one pushed aside because I do not belong anywhere else, but I'm too important for that. So, like Kendra, I rack my brain on the easiest part of the test.

But my life is not based on a sheet of paper, and I have encountered other problems that I feel are more serious than shading in bubbles. I find myself occasionally wondering about my identity. I know that I am black and white, but it is sometimes hard for me to figure out just where I fit in. For most of my life I attended public schools, but decided that I wanted to attend a private high school. This public school system had often made me feel ashamed of being black and white, and being one of only two minorities compounded the problem. I knew that the private school was much more diverse and would be a welcomed change of pace. After six months, I have seen a slight separation between the whites and minorities. There are numerous interracial friendships, and few have friends merely within their race. I feel that what it comes down to is who people have been exposed to and feel comfortable with. My close circle of friends is predominantly white, although many of my friends are minorities, and I am not sure whom I identify with. I feel that when I'm recognizing one part of my heritage I am leaving the other out. I know that if I hung out with a predominantly minority group, I would feel as though I was deserting my heritage too. So, I get confused about myself. But, when this happens, I try to see myself as I want others to see me: from the inside out, starting with the kind of person I am, not the color of my skin. Like Kendra, I am just like anyone else. I do not cry "grey tears" or laugh a "grey laugh."

I especially like the last two lines of the poem [not ignoring the Grey, and not because of the Grey./just love me because i'm your Baby.]: they seem to summarize all that I feel. I would like people to recognize and respect my ethnic background, while at the same time, not treat me any differently because of it. I think "Dear Mommy" put all of my thoughts into words, and I simply couldn't have said it better than Kendra. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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