Coming Into Your Own

This passed year has been a wild wide…racially. Going natural really helped reconcile some of those “self-hatred” feelings some mixed people feel when society puts that pressure on you to choose one race over the other. 

And joining Tumblr again really helped me see that there was a sub-group of people who dedicate the majority of their time to helping other people “go natural,” posting products that work on their hair, various protective styles, and a TON of tips on subjects from how to handle hair growth to what non-sulfate shampoos would work best on 3b hair, etc. 

But as I surfed the web, I noticed that I became envious of those girls I dubbed the “Howard Girls.” By this, I meant the Howard University Girl, the perfect African-American woman: intelligent, sexy, curvy in all the right places, going to be a lawyer but still worships Trey Songz, and long, gorgeous hair, whether it was curly or straight. I felt that if I wanted to be accepted by the African-American community, which was something I had decided I wanted, then I would have embody the “Howard Girl” here, in Seattle, on a limited budget.

Needless to say, that didn’t last long because one night I awoke and something or someone whispered this in my ear,

Me performing at SU’s AJS

Have you ever needed everyone to love you? You have a small group of close friends. You have a small, happy and supportive family. You HAVE a community, one that is not defined by the color, race, or ethnicity line. Thrive in them. Laugh with them. Love with them. Let them pour their love on you. Don’t worry about fitting in with the “black community” or the “german community.” Live and Laugh and Love in the eclectic, colorful, and unique myriad of friends and family you have chosen for yourself. You’ve chosen well. “

This enlightenment lead me to do the thing I love to do most: write. So for my university’s Artistic Justice Showcase, I wrote my first spoken word piece on this very topic (I initially wanted to write about my natural hair, but I felt that my journey with this was not yet over, so I couldn’t fully tell the story at this point in time.)

So here is my AJS spoken word piece titled “A Letter to Black America“:

To Whom It May Concern

Hello. I know this might seem out of place but I can only pray it’s not too late. And I realize there’s a fee that must be paid, but I apologize. I got it waived. 

I’m sending in my application for attendance, and, cross my fingers, in the near future acceptance with the repentance of a sinner and heart bigger than the hatred I harbored in my heart, hardening it towards all of you. 

You see..

The misconception of a seemingly accurate perception of the issue in question imposed upon me by the swift deception of the message through the channels of influence I channelled into my subconscious lead me down a path of ignorant self-righteousness, which, I now understand was neither right nor just but unfortunately pinned us against each other, which was so wrong but served as justification for why my motivation to send in this application was prolonged for so long.

 But let me break this down…

They say never to regret the past or better yet always forgive and forget or else that intense anger shall never pass. But even though that bitterness and disgust of my caramel mocha skin, my frivolous, untamable curls, and thick coke-bottle curves was once discussed, the supposed “release” did not cease the reasoning I used to hate and separate myself–propelling me to re-evaluate the original source of hate I saw outside myself, which lead me here, to your admissions office, openly admitting that the problem really resided inside of me–and only me–and with this revelation came about a sense of peace.

I know you sift through a sea of papers on the daily, and your main concern is plainly this: why choose me? What sets me apart? The obvious response is ” ’cause I’ve got the heart,” but I’ll dissect this further…

My perception is just one hue adding to the colorful myriad of views that collectively comprise our culture’s eyes helping to see the truth.

With 20/20 vision we can connect all sides of the schism that broke us up with bi-focals that focused solely on the differences between bi-racials and pure black folks, completely leaving out those beautiful mixtures of quarter black, one drops, and mulattos.

So by accepting me hopefully I’ll help you see though my eyes that this world was not meant to be colorblind but rather seen with that spectacular HD quality our technicolor culture has yet to be seen represented by movies, the media, and t.v.

I know my undergraduate scholar’s ship has sailed, and I’ll soon be following my heart, that 808 that never stops laying down the beat upon which I will record my entire life’s mixtape of innovation and inspiration, but I pray you realize I’m not just another appliCAN’T but rather part AfriCAN-AmeriCAN finally proud of who I am.

I look forward to hearing from your admissions office soon.

In Love,

Michelle Conerly