Who Am I

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 - 6:23pm

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Emily Waters

 

As a child, I was taught that love casts out all fear

Fear of difference, of embracing those unlike me

Unconditional love does not see with the eyes much like we do

Rather it sees with the heart

In this way, we are able to go to new places, meet new people, and not judge or make assumptions

I went to India this past summer, with an open mind and open heart

Although it was specified as a “service-learning” trip, I definitely was able to learn and take away more than what I was able to do in the community

I saw some of the strengths, beauties, and limitations of humanity

The saddening still existing misconception that the only face of America is a Caucasian male or female with blond, straight hair and blue eyes

When asked where I was from?

“America” was not an appropriate answer

More like Africa, West Indies, or Bangalore

But I could not accept or deny these guesses of my origin

For I have no specific knowledge of my ancestors

My social identities were brought to the forefront

And my privilege made more apparent

The question of “who am I?” was challenged daily

But I discovered more and more as the days went by

As pieces of myself were revealed, I saw the face of humanity in a new light

I began to see what it means to be a community, to work towards a common goal with strangers who quickly became friends

An experience that crossed often untouched territories of working together regardless of language barriers, class, nationality, skin color, or religious and spiritual difference

I had found a place where I could be authentically me

When I came home and reflected I was enthralled by what I had discovered

Who am I?

I think that is a question many of us have asked ourselves at one point in our lives.

Who Am I? What makes me, me?

Yes, I am a Black American, working class, heterosexual woman, who is a first generation college student

I pray to God, who I believe helps write the script of my story, my life

I come from a people that have time and time again been ignored, misunderstood, victimized, and scrutinized, yet always still they rise

But really, who am I?

Am I only the mere things that people can see?

My dark skin, textured hair, or my wallet and pockets with little money?

Am I not ambitious, strong, confident, motivated, and talented?

Am I not hard working, caring, nurturing, and compassionate?

Who am I, really?

I am not merely one of these things but a mixture of it all

And although life has its struggles, I am not willing to tumble and fall

I am not the color of my skin or the value of my income but rather what I do being a Black person of low SES

These traits which are a major part of my identity and life do not completely define me

They are merely intricate pieces to a puzzle that fit together to create who I am and who I choose to be

But what about those things that people cannot see?

My passion for working with children, singing, dancing and being carefree?

Are these things not also a part of me?

I take pride in my ethnic history, family traditions, and interests

My love for music, mathematics, family outings, and counseling close friends

But there is so much about me that can only be seen internally

If I were a looking glass, you could see every part of me but yet all you see is one side of me…rather all you choose to see is one side of me

Either my skin complexion, my Bible I carry, the less fancy clothes I wear, my vernacular or slang

But I understand that you may not comprehend that even though we may look the same or even totally different, we all can relate to this

This question of “who am I?”

Like the iceberg effect, we are more than what people can see on the surface

There is so much hidden beneath waiting to be seen

Just take the moment and look a little deeper and you will be surprised by what you see

When I did this, I found the real me

I realized no matter what people say to discriminate, to separate

We are all not that different

We are all the same in that we are

Human…

I bleed red, you bleed red, we both cry, we laugh, we have ups, we have downs

So, when asked, “who am I?”

I can say…

I am Sharae, a young woman trying to leave a mark in the world just as my culture and identity has left a mark on my heart that always reminds me to never be afraid to just be me