This conundrum comes from Mamle Kabu's main character Claudia from her short story "Human Mathematics" which appeared in Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience.
Where is line between who you are and who you make yourself to be?
When I was young, I had a hard time fitting in. By middle school, I had decided enough was enough. I desperately wanted friends and so I changed the person that I was to someone that fit in better. Part of that meant being whiter around my white friends and blacker around my blacker friends.
|On the cheerleading team in high school. White with my white friends.|
I also gained some Vietnamese friends with whom I was "brown" as Kabu called it. "Brown" was actually more of a shade of grey since I acted neither black or white, and more politically correct.
In high school, I joined the sprint team on track, where I learned how to speak more black-like. While I was still made fun of for how "white" I sounded, my new accent did at least impress my white friends when it slipped out.
I became a commodity, a comic relief. I was that weird girl who was two people in one. I started to question if this person was really me. Had I played another personality so long that I no longer knew?
While I have no definite answer on the questions in the opening quote, I can say this: Being who you really are means being who you want to be. And being who you want to be can change with time, friends, and places. It's not bad unless it makes you that way, as if you have something that you have to hide.