Question Mark | Teen Ink

Question Mark

September 11, 2018
By Trinitydaniels08 BRONZE, Flossmoor, Illinois
Trinitydaniels08 BRONZE, Flossmoor, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

African American, but Melanin-not-included. This should be the newest doll sold by The American Girl brand.  Now, while this might be a marketing disaster, at least an eight year old black girl, with red hair, freckles, and brown--not green--eyes would have a doll that speaks to her identity, or rather the lack thereof. In a society with movements like Black Girls Rock and #myblackisbeautiful, I found myself constantly defending my “blackness.”


At thirteen, I entered a room. The music stopped. Conversations halted, and I was a focal point. Girls peered into my soul in search of my identity. As I nervously made my way through my first party,  I walked toward familiar faces trying to find safety in their company, but with every step I found myself more and more on stage. It was as if everyone was waiting for my opening line. Finally, the silence was broken by a question that would continually plague me: “Is that your natural hair color?” It was if everyone in the room had decided that I wasn’t real. I was a black girl whose hair was red, or maybe orange, or maybe none of the above. I was a black girl whose melanin was NOT included. I was the doll that doesn’t exist in stores.


Ironically, I’ve always been told that having red hair was a gift. Older women would explain to me how the average person pays money just to make it look like mine. Women at church expressed how much they adore my hair color and that I should cherish God’s gift because most black girls don’t look like... me. I never understood how if it was such a gift, why did my hair color create such hostility in people? I would argue with girls on why my eyebrows and eyelashes didn’t match my hair color. But honestly, I couldn’t argue what I didn’t understand myself, so I stopped trying to defend myself and began to recreate myself. Since black girls didn't look like me, I tried to force myself into different ethnic groups. I told people “Yeah, I’m mixed,” but not just with black and white, but Hispanic. I had fun bouncing from one group to another; it was like if the black girls didn’t accept me I had five other groups I could go to. Most people would assume I was always happy because I had so many different friends, but truthfully I was oil in water: no matter how hard I wanted to find a group to belong to, I just didn’t fit. I couldn’t pretend anymore, I didn’t come from an Irish family nor did I know any Spanish, I was simply an enigma.


After spending so much time trying to create what people felt did not exist in me, I began to realize there is beauty in mystery. Yes, I am a black girl whose hair is red, or maybe orange, or maybe none of the above and that is what makes me unique. It has taken some time, but I have found comfort in creating curiosity for others. You see, questions are the beginnings to new insight. They are the pathway to truth.  So when people wonder about my ethnicity or my seemingly lack thereof, I see it as an opportunity to tell my truth. Questions make you do what? Ask.


The author's comments:

I am a senior in highschool and I wrote this for a college essay. I wrote this essay to show that discrimination can be positive and negative. For me, my light skin and red hair set me apart from many African American girls. This shows my biggest struggle I face everyday because I can't change this. I'd love to share it to the world. 


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Robert214 GOLD said...
on Jan. 23 at 8:04 pm
Robert214 GOLD, Guangzhou, Other
10 articles 0 photos 45 comments
This article is really touching! It would be even better if you can elaborate more on how you reach self-realization in the end.


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