My, how time does fly!
I’d like to address racial identity today. That doesn’t sound like a good start.
Growing up, my sister looked a lot like our Italian father’s side of the family. She had the lovely tan-able olive skin and brown hair, completely arresting and sparkling dark. I, however, looked much more like our European Cocktail mother- pale skin, blue eyes, freckles, predisposed for awkward teeth, etc.
Because of this, at family reunions, or even just a dinner at my Maw Maw’s house (three types of pasta, two meats, one appetizer, two desserts, standard!) I always felt very aware that I did not look like The Family. No Mafia references intended, because, as my Aunt always reminds me, “the mafia doesn’t exist. It’s just made up by people who are trying to put Italians down!” But, even though my sister looked the part, I was the one who cooked the part. That was the dumbest sentence. But truly, to this day, if someone enters my home, I instantly want to cook them something.
The second time I became aware of my Whiteness was in middle school. Being from San Antonio, a city with a mostly Hispanic population, I grew up thinking that I was a minority. In middle school, however, everyone just assumed that my sister’s dark skin and hair meant that she was also Hispanic. They were often confused when they found out that we were sisters and usually assumed we had different dads. However, that sort of thing just happened a lot. Ah well.
So on we move with our little lives, and my sister and I grow up into adults who don’t really think about race that often. But then the other day, I noticed an insecurity of my sister’s and I think I figured out the cause. A little backstory- my sister has lupus (my little Lupe Fiasco, as I like to call her) and along with that comes a sensitivity to sunlight. Thankfully, she tested negative for dumb ass vampire disease. But any way, because of this photo-sensitivity, she can’t tan anymore. If she goes out in the sun for too long, she’s sick for the next week. So the last time that she was in town, she kept bringing up how pale she looked and how she thinks she would look better if she was just a little bit darker. I think that the attention she received (all positive, mind you) for being able to visually identify herself with the cultures around her was not something she necessarily noticed, because to her, it was always there. Now that she no longer looks a lot like everyone else, she suddenly realizes the security she no longer has.
But most importantly, we were the cutest kids alive.