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SelfDiscovery

FamilyHeritage&Values

MyancestryonlydatesbacktoafewgenerationsarefromAmerica.IknowthatIam
AfricanAmerican,soobviouslymyrootsresidefromAfrica,butIcannottracebacktomy
Africanroots.WhatIdoknowaboutmyfamilyisthatitislargethroughmyeyes.Mymothers
sideofthefamilyresidesinTexas,butleadstotherootsofLouisiana.Iremembertakingafew
tripswithmyfamilytovisitmygrandparents.IcantsaymuchaboutmymotherssidebecauseI
didntreallyknowthem.Whenmymotherdiedin2003,theyseemedtoshowupalotless.I
knowIsawthemalotwhenIwasyounger,butasIgotoldertheydisappearedfrommy
memories.Sincethatsideofthefamilywastooinvolvedinmylife,majorityofmyvaluescame
frommyfathers.
MybrotherandIgrewupknowingeveryoneonourdadssideofthefamily.Basicallyall
ofmyvaluescamefromthem.Churchwasanimportantfactortomyextendedfamily.
EverythingwascenteredaroundGod.SinceMydaddidntgotochurch,Iwasnttooinvolvedin
it.Sometimesmyauntsanduncleswouldvolunteertotakeustochurchtoprovideuswiththe
wordofGod,butIwasneverpartofasinglechurchfamilywhenIwasyounger.
Myfamilywouldalwaysgettogetherforholidayssuchasmotherandfathersday,
Christmas,IndependenceDay,Thanksgiving,etc.Whateverholidayitwas,everyonewantedto
knowwhowashostingandcooking.Theywerereallygoodatpreservingfamilygathers.Itwasa
chancetoseeeveryonebecausewelivedsofarfromeachother.Ilookedforwardtoeveryfamily
functionbecauseitletsmeknowhowluckyIamtohavefunstufflikethisandhowimportantit
istokeepthefamilytogether.
Myfatherwasasingleparentraisingtwokids.Hewantedthebestforuseventhough
losingourmotherwasntpartoftheplans.HewantedmybrotherandItodogoodinschoolno
matterwhat.Ifourgradeswerenthighenough,wewerepunished.Educationwasimportantto
himsinceittookmyfatheranextratwoyearstocompletehighschool.Myfathersaidwecould
dowhateverwewantedtodowithourlifeaslongaswefinishedschoolfirst.MybrotherandI
understoodthat.Hewasverysupportiveofmegoingtocollege,andmymajorofsocialwork.

ExplorationofSocietyIdentity/Intersectionality

TheidentitywheelwasabitdifficultbecauseIfeltlikedependingonthesettingmy
identitycouldbeanadvantage.WhenIreallythoughtit,Iwastryingtousetheoverallworld
view.SuchasbeinganUScitizenisagreatadvantageinthestates,butmaybetoothercountries
IamtheenemyeventhoughIdidntdoanythingpersonaltoreceivethattitle.SoIjustkeptit
simpleinmademydecisionsbasedintheUnitedStatesasIshouldhavedone.Myadvantage
identitiesincludebeingaUScitizenandaChristian.Mydisadvantagesarebeingabisexual
AfricanAmericanfemalewhoisayoungadultinthemiddleclass.Mydisadvantagesoutweigh
myadvantages,andtherearealotofconflictingwithsomeofmyidentities.
Wecannotchooseourgenderorracewhenweareborn.Atbirthwearebornwithaclean
slateandunawareoftheworld.IwasbornasanAfricanAmericanfemale.Beforetheageof10,
IdidnotknowthatracewoulddefinewhoIam.Whenhistorywastaughtinelementaryschool,
itsasdetailedasifyouwouldlearnitinhighergradelevels.Iknewthatmyskintonewas
differentfromotherkids,buttheonlywaytheschoolseparatedstudentswasbygender.Gender

wastheonlyobviousfactorinelementaryschool.NowasIgotolderandmovedupinthe
school,Ibegantorealizethefactorsofrace.Duringfifthgrade,itwasmoreclearhowrace
playedapartofthesocialinteraction.Irememberspeakingpropergrammar(alsoknownas
talkingwhite)andbeingfriendswithawhitegirl,andmostoftheblackstudentsresistthat.I
didntunderstandatthetimewhyitwassuchabigdeal.Therewasconstantbullying,teasing,
andmockingofthewhitegirl.Mybestfriendatthetimetoldmethatitwasntcooltohangwith
her.WhenIaskedwhy,shetoldmethatwhitegirlisnothinglikeus.Wedonthangwith
peoplelikethat.Ifyouwanttostartbeingcool,youhavetobelikeus.Iwasbrainwashedto
believethatIcouldnthangwithanyoneoutsideofmyrace.Itseemedlikeasin.Inmiddle
schooltherealotofracialfightsafterschoolbetweentheblacksandtheHispanics.Itwasareally
toughtimeforrace.
SinceIwasraisedwithreligiousviews,IgrewupasaChristian.Itwasntstrictteachings
formesinceIdidntgotochurchallthetime.BeingaChristiangivesmeanadvantagebecause
itistheidealreligiontoliveby.Thisreligionwasnotmychoice.Itwaspassedontomeby
familyasusual.IdonotstatemyselfadevotedChristian,butIdobelieveinGod.Thisidentity
conflictswithsexualorientation.Iconsidermyselfasbisexual.AccordingTothebible,
homosexualityisisasinthatshouldnotbepracticed.Forawhile,IwasscaredwhenIstarted
havingfeelingsforgirls.ItwasadifficulttimeformebecauseIfeltlikeIwasinabattlewith
mybeliefs.

Experience&AttituderegardingOthers

Ididntmeetanyonethatwasgayoralesbianuntilmiddleschool.Themainthingabout
theLGBTcommunitywasfromchurch.Mostoftheviewsonthecommunitywasverynegative
andsinful.IdidntdevelopthatmindstatebecauseIalsolearnedtolovepeopleforthewaythey
arewithoutcompromise.
Oneofmymalefriendscameouttomefreshmanyearofhighschool.Wehadclasses
togetherforalmosttwoyearssohewasagoodfriendofmine.Hetrustedmewithhissecret.I
actuallyfelthonoredforhimtotellme.Itwasahardtimeforhimbecausehehad3older
brothersthatplayedsport.Myfriendwasverybooksmart.Hefeltlikeanoutcasttohisfamily
sincetheywereverynegativetowardshomosexuality.Hehadalottobescaredabout.Ifelt
concernandsympathyforhim.Iveneverfeltanynegativeemotionsordoneanynegative
actionstowardsanyonethatwasLGBT.ItreatedmyfriendwiththesamerespectIdidbefore.I
didntseehimasanydifferent.Well,theonlydifferencewasthatwecantalkaboutboys
together.

RacialIdentity

Besidesgender,raceseemstobethemostidentifyingfactorofaperson.Alongwithrace
comesthestereotypicalideasbasedoffofthemediaorrumors.AsaAfricanAmericanwoman,
alabelisbeingplaceonmyforeheadbypeoplebeforeIevenspeaktothem.Thisisdueto
centuriesofunfairtreatmenttominorities.
WhenIwasyounger,Ithoughtpeoplewereeitherdarkorlight.Somepeoplewereinthe
sunalot,andsomepeoplejuststayedinside.ThatswhatIthoughtofpeoplesskintone.It
didnthavetodowithrace.Thatwaswhatmyyounginnocentmindthoughtaboutpeople.When

Istartedschool,IsawalotofHispanicpeople.IdidntknowtheywereHispanic.Ithoughtthey
werejustadifferentshadeoflight.Iwasfriendswitheveryoneinmyelementaryclasses.Ittook
meawhiletoknowthereweremanyraces.Thiswasthenaiveandnosocialconsciousnessstage.
Byintermediateschool,historyclassesrevealedthemoreelaborateversionsofhistory.
OnceIlearnedaboutslavery,itkindofsunkmyheartbecausepeoplethatlookedlikemewere
theunluckyonestobechosenasslaves.Throughouthistoryclass,theteacherswouldtellusas
studentsthatequallyhasbeenreachedinsocietydespiteallofthebadactionsinthepast.I
believedwewereequal.Ihadbelievedthatwehadmovedonfrombeingtreatedlikedirt,soi
didntpayanymindtoanythingelsebecauseIhadacceptedwhatmyteacherstaughtmein
school.
Alongwiththerealizationofracecametheideaoftrueblackness.Forafewyears,I
dideverythingIcouldtoproveIwasBlack.Infifthgrade,Iwasteasedforspeakingproper
grammar.ItwasntsomethingthatdefinebeingBlack.Insteadblacksweresupposetospeak
slang,soItookthatuptofitin.Ididntwantpeopletomakefunofmeandcallmewhite.It
wassociallyacceptableforblackpeopletolistentorap,talkacertainway,andhavegoodhair.
WhatisironicandverysurprisingisthateveryblackgirlIknewhadaperm.Itwasnormal.I
didntknowwhathairlookedlikewithoutaperm.Blackgirlswereexpectedtokeepupwiththe
straighthaireventhoughkeepingstraighthairwasawaytokeepwhitepeoplecomfortablewith
us.
Afterputtingupanexhaustingfighttostaytruetomycolor,Idecidedthatitwasnt
worthitanymore.WhenIgottocollege,IrealizedthatIcouldlikeanddowhateverIwanted
andstillbecalledBlack.Ididntwantresistmyinterests,andchangemyselftobeacceptedinto
myownrace.Onebeautyofcollegeistofindyourself,andthatiswhatImdoing.Idontwant
tobeafraid.EvennonBlackpeoplewouldjudgemyblackness.IfIamnotthedefinitionof
trueBlackperson,thenthatisfinewithme.
IdonotbelieveIaminthelaststageoftheJacksonandHardimanModelbecausethat
involvesknowingmyselfinternallyandreflectingthatontotherealworld.Ihavenotlivedlong
enoughtoknowhowIcancontributetothat.

Oppression&Privilege

BeingaminorityinAmericaisrough.Icantspeakofminorities.Icanonlyspeakabout
myownraceasanAfricanAmerican.Blackpeopleholdontothehistorybecausewewere
unfortunateforalongtime.Ontopofdealingwithdiscrimination,wehavetodealwithour
culturebeingtakenawayfromus.IntheAfricanAmericancommunity,aduragisusedto
maintainacertainhairstyleforBlackmen.IfaBlackmalewearsitwithitanywhereoutsidehis
home,heisassumedtolookthuggishandcriminal.Ilookinafashionmagazineandfindthata
duragisnowahataccessoryforwhitepeople.Iwasverysurprised.HipHopisagenrecreated
bytheblackcommunityasawayforustoreflectourpersonalstrugglesintomusic.Itwas
supposetoshinealightonthehiddenscenesoftheghettothatthegovernmentrefusesto
acknowledgeisaproblem.Whitepeopleinterpretrapasviolent,nonsense,andadangerous
thingfortheirkidstolistenbecausetheybelieveitwillbrainwashthemintobecomethugsand
gangstas.AsifthatisallwhatBlackpeopledo.Braids,auniquehairstylethathasbeenseen
sincethedaysofslavery,isnotbeingimitatedonwhitegirlsheadsaswayforthemtostand

outandprovethattheycanbeblackaswell.Itdisappointsmethatthereissomuchhateonmy
race,yetpeoplewanttostealourcultureasifwehaventbeendoingitalready.
Steppingawayfromrace,therearealsoproblemsintheLGBTcommunity.Icameout
asabisexualmyfreshmenyearofhighschool.ImostlytoldmyfriendsbecauseIdidntbelieve
myfamilyneededtoknow.WhenIcameout,Ididntexperienceanyharassmentbecausepeople
werecoolwithit.Unfortunately,somelesbiansusedtoteasemeforbeingbisexual.Theydidnt
consideritarealsexualitybecausetheydidntunderstandthatyoucouldlikebothsexes.Itwas
odd,andtheycalledmegreedyandconfusedfornotjuststickingtoonesex.SometimesI
thoughtitwasstupidofmetocomeout.Guyslovedit.Theywouldthinktherewasagreater
chanceIwouldparticipateinasexualthreesomejustbecauseIwasbisexual.wouldntgive
themthebenefit.EventhoughbisexualityisintheacronymofLGBT,peoplechoosetoignoreit.

Summary

Throughthisproject,IlearnedthatIhaventreallysatdownandthoughtaboutmysocial
identitiesuntilnow.IdidnotrealizeIwasbeingoppressedwhilegrowingbecauseIlivedina
lowincomearea.Inmyarea,everythingwasourdefinitionofnormalbecausewedidnthave
manywhitepeopletooppressus.Itwashardertothinkaboutcertainmemoriesforcertain
questions.Overall,IlovehowIidentifymyself.Myproudestidentityisbeingan
AfricanAmericanwomanbecauseweareuniqueandstandouttosociety.Wehavethestrength
tomakeanythingpossiblewithlimitedresourcesthroughthehelpofGod.Nomatterwhat
discriminationweface,Blackwomenaretheexoticqueenswehavealwaysbeen.