Middle school; a troubling time for many teens. For me, it was coming to the realization that I didn’t really fit in. My middle school was pretty diverse, which I will forever be grateful for. But, in the end, I always found myself wanting to be surrounded by more peers like me. I wanted to make friends with people who were mixed and struggled with that. But, I never really found any.
“Do you ever feel like you don’t fit in with either side of your family?” The answer was always no. Everyone always felt at home no matter what side of the family they were around. Middle school was primetime of having internal struggles with grasping the idea of being mixed.
See, I’m Black and Mexican. Mom is Mexican, Dad is Black. But I was raised by my Mom’s side.
On the occasion I did see my Dad’s side, I never felt like I fit in with them, and then when I would come back home to my Mom’s side I would realize I didn’t really fit in with them either. Around my Dad’s family, it was all just southern folk who ate a lot of fish and sat on the porch all the time. But where was the mariachi? Where were the random babies sleeping in people’s rooms? Where were all the separated groups of aunts, uncles, and kids? Around my Mom’s family, it was always Tia’s looking their prettiest no matter what and cousins gathered in some room playing video games. Where was the loud hollering? Where were the random grandmas in their “company” wigs complaining about the kids?
It’s safe to assume that I’ve always felt out of place with my family, considering as a kid I would introduce myself as ‘Dayja Marie Mexican-Black’, but it became so much more apparent to me as I grew up. That’s when the pressure kicked in. “Say something in Spanish”. “Is your Mom really your Mom”. “Why don’t you call your mom’s husband dad?”(of course because we’re both Black so why wouldn’t he be my dad).
As I said, I had always been aware of these differences but middle school was when it hit me. I would second-guess everything. ‘Should I dress differently, should I change up my voice a little for each side?’ And unfortunately, my family started to comment on my differences.
I noticed that I truly was the brownest or the lightest one out of the bunch. My Spanish was horrible for one side but the other side could care less that I even knew a little. According to one girl, “You sound really Black sometimes” but to others “You don’t even sound Black”. What did these things even mean? More importantly, how do I fix these imperfections of mine? And so, cue the hyper fixation.
I went through an eating disorder and got more perms than I can count, but I would never forget, sometimes you got to wear it natural, get better at your Spanish but never develop an accent outside of speaking it, and even if you gain their body type, never lose some parts. It was a miserable time for me as it was for many teens but the fact that it seeped into my family life, made it all much more miserable. I can wholeheartedly say that I had no clue who I was and was trying to become something I had no way of becoming.
Now at 17, I look back and think why? You’re mixed. You weren’t born with one race for a reason. Simultaneously show off both and be proud of it. Ignore people’s ignorance, especially when it comes to your individuality. Every day I work to become the Mexican and Black girl, middle school me couldn’t even imagine existing, but I know she would be proud of.
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Zahra KermalliDec 12, 2022
Oooh! I like your story.
The intro line is really good- I’m kinda struggling with mine but yours hooks the audience really nice!
Is it based on real life?