It turns out being made fun of for being a white girl who can’t dance hurts as much as thirty as it did when I was nine.
Not that I didn’t want to go to a summer camp full of beautiful brown skinned girls, each one with a unique crown of braids, puffs and rainbow barrettes. I loved to watch their faces light up as they smiled and played together. Then when they looked at me it was either cold or curious. Their dazzling smiles would fade or turn hard as they looked at me.
It was more than just skin color that kept me apart from the friends I desired. We lacked cultural connections. I didn’t know the music they listened or the dance steps they knew. I didn’t watch horror movies. I was a vegetarian by choice and brought in Borscht–everyone thought my pink soup, cultural heritage of my people–was hysterical–including my so-called friends, who played with me when I went over to their house, but not in public.
<“She’s going out with him.” A big girl with big twists of hair tied up in baubles pointed from me to the only other white kids in the group, a quiet blond haired boy with blue eyes. Her friend covered her teeth as she giggled.>
I made a few friends at camp: a slender white girl in another group with an avid imagination who talked a mile a minute. Mostly we played, or I day-dreamed and stayed to myself. I did get good at hand-clap games, which let me in a bit.
When I see how naturally my daughter–with just her small corner of African heritage–interacts with (other) black girls it makes me so happy. With her unique combination of black features and light skin and “good” but still plenty kinky red hair, she wins hearts with people of all races everywhere she goes. Plus her attitude is generally good with meeting people. She’s not moody and doesn’t hold many grudges.
Not like me. After all these years I still want those black girls to like me.
And sometimes….they do.
Sometimes they like dancing with me so much they come back for more.
So let the haters hate. Love don’t discriminate.