Dear World, or more so family, friends, and peers,
I am addressing you today to tell you something about myself that is extremely important to me, and effects me everyday.
I, A.J. Bryce, am Hawaiian/Filipino/German/Irish. I am a mixed person of color, and I am NOT WHITE.
I can already imagine so many of you raising your brows while I write this. There are those who are confused because being a person of color isn’t the kind of thing you can usually hide on the inside, so why would I even have to bring it up? But then there are those of you, those who have raised me, brought me up into this world, and accepted me not as the “adopted child”, or an outsider, but as one of your own, and who have chosen “color-blindness” as an expression of acceptance into your white communities.
I was raised to believe I was white, that the Hawaiian/Filipino was such a small percentage it didn’t matter, and that I just tanned well. (Hawaii is one of the 50 states, so that’s white and american too, right?!?) For 24 years I checked the “white” box on every form pushed in front of my face, while being told by lovers I was beautiful because I “looked exotic”. My friends in school were always competing to get a better “tan” than me, so I spent extra time after my showers applying more baby powder to be more like them, white, what I was supposed to be. If I had a dollar for every time someone in grade school asked me if I was “half-black” I would have had too much money for a kid my age. Rather than the money it’d have been nice to have an answer, or for parents to be having more conversations about race with their children so that I wouldn’t have felt the burden too.
The fact that I even feel the need to “come out” as a person of color is just fucked up and yet another example of how passive/active racism and whitewashing is still very much alive, and continues to oppress those of us who will never fit into the racial majority. (fun fact, oppression fucks over everyone, even the oppressors)
But everyday I’m constantly being barraged by racism, from family, friends, and peers. It’s been dis-empowering, silencing, and down right depressing.
This “coming out” letter isn’t actually meant to tell the world that I’m not white. It’s meant to tell the world that I’m brown, and I’m proud, and I’m no longer staying silent about it. Although I’m sad to say that I don’t know if I have the energy to keep up with all that surrounds me right now, consider this a step towards trying.
When you start off a sentence with “I’m not racist, but….” do me a favor and just stop before contradicting yourself, please.
When you talk about shooting at N*** like they’re the problem in this town, just months after 20 white kids beat up 2 black kids a few blocks from my house (in a fucking church parking lot) I don’t crack a shameful half laugh because I agree with you, I do it because I’m afraid. And no, I don’t care if you’re joking, it’s fucking terrifying.
And I’m sorry, calling your black friend “transparent” because he’s so white you can see through him isn’t an acceptance of who he is, it’s just racist.
I can’t sit silently anymore, I just can’t.