I Am Erin

May 3, 2011
By estandley GOLD, Kinston, North Carolina
estandley GOLD, Kinston, North Carolina
11 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Sometimes I can hear my bones straining underneath the weight of the lives I'm not living."

“Are you mixed?” The parade of questions always begins with this sentence. “No.” I firmly tell the group of questioning faces, not making eye contact. “Oh, well you look mixed.” “I am biracial.” I correct their slang. “Same thing.” They tell me, but it is not at all the same thing. I am not an instant batter that you add egg yolks and water to, I do not come in a box, I am a person. What’s more, I am not my skin tone, I am Erin. They always move swiftly to the question, “Is your dad black or your mom?” “My dad.” I tell them shortly. “Does your dad act black?” “I don’t know.” I answer, quietly focusing on something else, dying for an escape, a fire alarm goes off in my head and I dash out of the room, unscathed by their remarks. There is a sudden break out into a song perfectly describing my emotions with a synchronized dance done by the whole class, giving me ample time to sashay out into the hallway. All of a sudden a tornado is spotted in the vicinity and we are all sent home early for the day. Then I am snapped back into reality, “You don’t have any black friends,” They say jeering at my clothes and hair. “You don’t even act black.” I want to tell them that you can’t act a color, I want to tell them that it shouldn’t matter because I am not the color of my skin, I am Erin. Instead my tongue stays flat and my teeth sink into my lips, tearing the fleshy skin with every word they say to me. I want the interrogation to end, but I know their questions will continue to pelt me and I feel as though I have been taken prisoner in Guantanamo Bay.
I wish to tell them that it shouldn’t matter how much melanin you have in your skin because people are all the same and yes I am half black, but I listen to show tunes. I much prefer to act on a stage than to act any color, because I am Erin. “Do you have a weave in?” “No.” I answer, knowing what will come next. “Are you lying?” They jab their fingers into my hair and poke their silicon nails into my scalp. I duck and wince, waiting for my escape, the teacher said she would be back in a second, why is she not here? Why must I endure their constant name callings, and questions that are laced in sarcasm and hand-delivered by hatred? I must because I am different, and I do not give into their constant prodding, I stay strong and hold back tears, because I am Erin. “You have freckles.” They say with unctuous grins, as if all of a sudden the dark brown spots have climbed from my neck to where they dot my overly-chubby cheeks and nose. “I know.” My overly chubby cheeks burn a crimson red with their unwavering glares and the judgmental smacking of their gum. They laugh and giggle in a pack, probably about me, or about my parents, but I choose to ignore them.
They’ve long since moved on to some other topic, and I sit in my desk, grateful for the attention shift. I want to scream and make them realize that they do not understand a person’s true value. They do not care that my favorite show is Doctor Who and that I love to read, they only care about why I look the way I look. I want to tell them off and make them recognize and never forget me, but it occurs to me that they never asked. They never once asked me my name; they never cared from the start who I truly was. I turn to them and tell them, because I know it is worth the raised eyebrows to make my voice heard. I grab their attention and calmly tell them by the way, I am Erin.

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