Identity: I am Me

December 18, 2008
By Mercedes Walkie, Minneapolis, MN

More than just a word thrown on a page
A noun efficiently used in discussion of who you are, where you're from, and who you hope to be,
It is your root system spreading deeply, widely, freely.

When you pass me, who do you see?
Yes, you notice my dove chocolate skin,
My curious double espresso pair of eyes,
My dimple on the right side,
My almost perfect row of pearly crest whitened teeth,
My 100-watt smile, melting away all adversity
My dark brown almost black hair, that has been stripped of it's kinky curls to be straight to the roots.

My short stature, curvy body along with hips that absolutely refuse to fit into abercrombie and Fitch.
That is me.
This intense description of my physical appearance is, lacking.
Sure I am what you see, but do you see what I am?
Doubt it!

I am more than a body and words on a page.
I am a series of complex roots.
Twisting. Crossing. Intersecting uniquely below the surface.

I am the product of the clash between two worlds.
Culture clash, cling, clash and change. Yes we can.

Brought in the headlights between two worlds, a subject of profiling.
Whether it was racial or not. I believed that I was caught.

Attending a private school in the suburbs.
Having all white classmates and instructors.
Being not rejected but not fully accepted because,
My skin was shades darker than the majority.

I was too black to be white, yet too white to be black.
Being called Oreo: Black on the outside and white on the inside.
Not having the flow of Ebonics, speaking too proper to be "ghetto" yet assumed to be " ghetto " because of my accent and body type.

Insecurities, growing pains.
I assumed to be unique to my suffering.
Trying to cling.
Often finding only intermediate family.

You see our family isn't typical.
It is a clash between brown and white
Coffee and creme.
A twist of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, hot fudge sundae topped with whipped cream.

Growing up in the south side of the city wasn't easy.
Being a witness to the actions of drug dealers, prostituters, child abusers.
Single mothers depending on W-I-C
Latino neighbors being stoped by the I.C.E

Can I believe what I am seeing?
Believe me I was not blind to society
Yet I believed that society couldn't see me.
I focused on my struggles, my place socially.
Often asking why can't I be like everyone or why can't everyone be like me?
Riding the bust to school, instead of driving a BMW.
Not receiving rich gifts, weekend vacations, or living in a gated community.

Starting to forget those around me, putting others below me.
Focusing more and more on what I didn't have.
Taking for granted what I had been granted.
It tired to compromise, but often left unsatisfied.

It wasn't until I was a freshwoman
A first year student at the U of M
Did my quest for identity come to a close.
In Chicano Studies 1102 we were all exposed.
Yes as classmates we we wrote papers of response and reflection watching documentaries, presenting topics, and having discussions.
Learning of the struggles of a minority that was growing into majority.

Doors opened, eyes unblinded.
I started to pick at my root system.
Started to discover more of my past.
Asked questions of who I was, who I am and who I wanted to really be.
You see I was forming my identity.

Without hesitance I dug deep within.
I continued my quest to answer Who I Am?
I am a product of pain and suffering.
I am a beacon of hope and resiliency.
A living example of God's mercy.

Battered but not shattered. A model of possiblity.
Amongst the throngs of students I found me.
I discovered my difference. Threw away my indifference.
I realized that cultural citizenship is key to survival.
Survival of all, not just the fittest.

No pale skin, straight hair, and blue eyes for me.
although at one time I believed that was true beauty
for now I know that the beauty in the eye of the beholder free.

I do not fit into a mold of the typical Miss. America
Nor do my Latino and Chicano compadres nor our generation. We are more than the color of our skin, body type and word flow.
So that he knows that she knows, that they know that we know.

It is time to create and find a place in our modern era.
Create space within our societal foundations.
Change. Yes we can. Change.

To embrace not reject. To hold and accept.
To love and to own. To remember past histories and to teach the unknown. To commemorate the trailblazers of our society.
Let freedom ring loud, from sea to shining sea.
I once was blind, but now I see
the deeper issues that are affecting our humanity.

I will never be featured on the cover of Seventeen or Ebony.
Yet I take pride in my discovery. Meet my identity and me. Free to be me in the country of liberty


So let it be.

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This article has 1 comment.

Yvonne said...
on Jan. 7 2009 at 4:36 pm
Wow! This Poem is really expressive. I can relate. Keep on writing. You are really talented. I hope one day I'll get your autograph when you become the next Maya Angelou lol


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