Author Topic: I Tried It … Being White  (Read 2026 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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I Tried It … Being White
« on: May 25, 2015, 08:15:28 pm »
I Tried It … Being White
By Sharline ChiangMAY 252015

TRUE STORY

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because having blond hair and blue eyes isn’t all that.

Sharline Chiang is a Berkeley-based journalist who has written for the New York Daily News, Los Angeles Daily News and Mutha Magazine. She’s a longtime member of VONA, a national community of writers of color.

I permed my hair.

Bleached it.

Saved up for eyelid surgery, breast implants. I wanted blue contacts, badly. I only had white friends. I listened to Bon Jovi.

None of it made me white.

I remember being 8 years old and wishing Santa would make me white. I woke up Christmas day to find the same me in the mirror: same small eyes, sallow skin, straight black hair. Same ugly, Chinese-looking me. Somewhere inside, I was saying, “f*ck you, Santa! Thanks for nothing!” I grew up in suburban New Jersey in the ’70s and ’80s. At school there were a few black kids and a couple of Latinos and Asians, but we were scattered, like dim stars along the Milky Way.

I wanted to be white.

White was not being asked questions like how you were a foreigner even though you were born in New York City (“Where are you really from?” “How is your English so good?”). It meant not having Jeff, the boy you had a crush on, place tacks on your chair and shout, “I GOT THE CHINK!” It meant not having kids set your trees on fire two Mischief Nights in a row.

I wanted to be blonde. Blond Barbie ruled. Farrah ruled. Chrissy was hot. Janet was not.

When I was little and played with my favorite Honey Hill Bunch dolls, guess who all the boys tried to get with? Darlin’ — the sweet blonde who carried a pink purse, whose motto on her packaging was “I’m so pretty, don’t you agree?” No one wanted the girl with a high IQ. There was an Asian doll literally named “I.Q.” She wore glasses on her head and carried a book. Her motto was (I sh*t you not) “I always get straight As in school!”

When I was 14 my mother wouldn’t let me bleach my hair, but she did consent to my getting a Mohawk. A girl I admired showed up at school with one. My hair could not do perfect Farrah wings, but I was pretty sure I could rock spikes. Except, my mother said I had to get a perm first. She had a thing about perms, said they were the only things that made our “lifeless” hair look good. Here’s what happened:

My mother to hairdresser: “Give her a perm. And a ma-huck.”

Hairdresser: “A what?”

Mom: “A ma-huck. Long on back, short on top.”

Here’s what I got: a tight perm — and a mullet.

Do you know how long it takes to grow out a mullet? About the same time it takes to graduate from junior high. That year, I tried out for several school plays and finally got a role.

My father: “How could you be cast as the daughter of an American family? Won’t the audience be confused?”

“No,” I said. “They can put makeup on me. I could look, you know, French.”

My mother winced. “Sharline, you will never look French. You will always look Chinese.”

In ninth grade, when I wasn’t busy dressing up like Madonna or Cyndi Lauper, I focused on becoming popular. I tried out for cheerleading; didn’t make it. Signed up for field hockey; sat on the bench. In a desperate move I joined the marching band. I couldn’t play an instrument, so I “played” the cymbals.

Over the next two decades I went on to date a lot of white guys (eventually I married a white guy). Still, I wasn’t white. I made my first non-white friend, a black woman in LA, when I was 28. To this, she said: “Are you sh*tting me?”

Somewhere in my 30s I stopped trying to be white. Living in California and making friends with proud African-Americans, Latinos, Middle Eastern Americans and Asian-Americans, my world opened. My old self-hatred slowly dissipated, replaced by a new appreciation for myself, of how I had spent my life internalizing racism and perpetuating the notion of white supremacy.

As writer Junot Díaz put it: “White supremacy is the great silence of our world … white supremacy would not f*cking operate without people of color to run it. It’s not that white people don’t contribute to it. They do. But it couldn’t continue to exist without people of color. White supremacy is inside all of us. And that’s why it’s so malign and difficult to confront.”

I try to confront it by talking about it. I read works by writers like Maxine Hong Kingston and Toni Morrison. They remind me to feel proud to be Chinese-American and a woman of color. They remind me of my ancestors’ resilience and the courage of people of color in this country. I read books featuring kids of different races to my daughter — a hapa toddler with eyes like mine but curly auburn hair — in hopes that this will help her love herself even though she looks “different.” I send her to a Mandarin preschool; she takes pride in being able to speak Chinese. I take a moment to celebrate the show Fresh Off the Boat, because it matters that for the first time in 20 years, I can see an Asian-American family on TV (hey, we exist!).

And these days, I just leave my hair the f*ck alone. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s a start.



Read more: I Tried It … Being White | True Story | OZY

Offline Battle

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Re: I Tried It … Being White
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2015, 09:46:20 pm »
For a second there, thought this article was written by robin quivers.  :)

Offline Battle

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Re: I Tried It … Being White
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2019, 10:04:44 am »
Saturday, 23rd March 2019
Charleston man who dons pharaoh garb gets DNA results linking him to Ramesses III
by Robert Behre Rbehre


Robert Ross retired as a management analyst with the U.S. General Accounting Office in Chicago, moved back to Charleston and currently works as a sexton at Morris Street Baptist Church.

But most people probably recognize him for the distinctive black-and-gold Pharaoh headdress he often wears around town to express his passion for ancient Egypt.

In other words, he’s been wearing it long before a 23andMe letter arrived in January analyzing his DNA — a letter that would move him to tears and confirm his many years of work.

“You share an ancient paternal lineage with Pharaoh Ramesses III,” it read.

“You and Ramesses III share an ancient paternal-line ancestor who probably lived in north Africa or western Asia.”

Ross was ecstatic.

“When I first read it, I was so happy, and I was just so glad,” he said.

“Then I thought, ‘No wonder I’m re-enacting and doing certain things that’s sort of unexplainable. It’s all part of the gene!’”

Ross said his passion for ancient Africa began to stir several decades ago, when he visited the King Tutankhamun exhibition in Chicago.

Until then, his impression of Egypt was that it was racially and culturally linked more to Europe than Africa, a perception he said was created by Hollywood stars in movies such as “The Ten Commandments.”

But when Ross saw King Tut’s gold death mask, he said, “It was like seeing myself. Something just came over me, and I started crying.”

He began reading books and taking classes to learn more. He started collecting Egyptian items, such as art, miniature pyramids and vases.

He even commissioned a portrait of himself juxtaposed with Tut’s famous mask.

And he eventually began to take his collections to local schools and colleges to share his passion and to try to instill it in a younger generation.

And he had the Head Crown made and began referring to himself as “King David,” a blend of his middle name and a childhood nickname bestowed by his great-grandmother.

“I am not a cult figure. I’m not trying to change anybody’s religion,” he said. “I’m an artist. I do a re-enactment, just like Glenn McConnell,” a former state senator and College of Charleston president with a well-known passion for Civil War re-enactments.

Unfortunately, Ross’s DNA might not help him with his longstanding passion of trying to get more of the history of ancient Africa told in Charleston’s new International African American Museum.

Specifically, Ross would like to see a replica of the Ishango bone inside the museum or on its grounds.

Archaeologists discovered the bone — a 20,000-year-old baboon fibula with a series of carvings and a piece of quartz embedded at one end — in 1950 in Africa’s Great Lakes area.


It’s on display at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels, and it casts doubt on the notions that Mesopotamians, Egyptians or Greeks were the first to develop sophisticated math.

Ross said more African history would help instill pride in the museum’s African-American visitors.
 
“There has to be an Africa foundation established before we get to the core, which is subjugation and slavery.”

“If people in Brussels can build a 23-foot-tall replica of the Ishango bone in front of their museum of culture and science, then we can have one in front of our museum to motivate our African American youth to learn mathematics because their ancestors invented it,” he said.

But he has pressed his case with little success so far.
 
Bernard Powers, a former College of Charleston history professor who has worked with the IAAM, has worked on the question of how much the museum should focus on Africa versus Africans in America.

“That’s one of the most challenging aspects of doing any African-American museum:

How do you do the Africa background, which is so long and so complex, you have to be selective?” he said.

“We can’t go back to Nubia and Kush and the invention of metallurgy.”

But Ross said he’s not giving up on his efforts to spread the word about African accomplishments before the international slave trade, especially because he believes it will inspire students today.

“We have to motivate our children. We invented mathematics!” he said. “I’m not putting on airs or anything like that. Our history is more than art and enslavement. We have to have an African foundation.”

And while Ross’s DNA results aren’t particularly rare — one in 120 23andMe customers share his haplogroup assignment, according to his letter — he will continue to draw inspiration from the link between his ancestors and his modern work.

“I have to celebrate myself,” he said. “I have to be my own drum major.”


















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