August 2012: Reality

It’s an interesting time in my life, so many things are happening.  But in staying relevant to this blog, I have just graduated with a Masters in Counseling and did my thesis on Mixed Race Identity Development.  I’ve been thinking about Mixed-Race issues all my life, secretly, shamefully.  Only a few years ago did I realize anyone else was thinking about it, too.  Strictly from a school standpoint, coming across research was extremely unnerving and comforting to me.  Unnerving because I thought I was the only one who was thinking so hard about race and belonging and what it takes to fit in and what it means when you just don’t.

In working through my thesis and presenting it to my committee, I got wonderful feedback and my professors asked me if this was my life’s work.  It is.  The world of scholarly research on our experience is growing, and I hope to be somewhat a part of that.  But my focus is therapy, healing, telling the story.  So that’s why I’ve started this blog.  Hopefully it will be helpful to people.

I grew up without my father, and therefore my family of color.  As far as how I look, most people think I’m Black.  When I was younger I got the what are  you chorus a lot, but many people often say, I knew you were mixed with something…  So though my phenotype is not as ambiguous as other Mixed-Race people, my family, my speech, my socialization definitely raised questions.  I’ve started this blog with my trip to Nigeria in 2006 to meet my father.   I was almost 30 when I traveled across the world alone to find that part of my history.

As it happens, he is in the U.S. right now – for the first time in 37 years.  Transferring my writings to this blog gives me a chance to revisit that trip and see all that has changed.  It’s interesting to see how I idolized him then, and how a series of disappointments and my own personal growth have knocked him off that pedestal.  What I’ve been thinking a lot about recently is that if you grow up without one parent and their enculturation, meeting them doesn’t necessarily fix anything at your core.  It’s not a magical solution.  It certainly felt like a magical solution for a while, but life happens.  It took 6 more years and nothing to do with him to really start the healing on my racial identity and stop making excuses and issuing apologies for who I am.

So I will continue to share that trip here.  It was an important piece of my experience, a starting point.  But certainly not the end!

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