Living In My Own Skin

A personal testament to what it feels like to grow up Black

Soraya Rhodes, Staff Writer

Growing up here in California and being colored, was a lot easier for me then it was for others who grew up in places that weren’t so settled. For me, growing up in Stockton, I felt comfortable exactly where I was. I felt comfortable walking to school alone and going into a store without being judged or misjudged because by my color. But I’m only 14, and there’s a lot of this city and country that I still haven’t seen or experienced. So, with me being younger, I can’t say that I haven’t had an experience yet that has forced me to be scared to drive as a colored person, or walk down the street with fear in my body because of the color of my skin.

But with all these known facts, the police have been the main topic of racism in the news recently. But with me, they (the police) are not the biggest threat when you think of being judged by race. When I go to places outside of my home or comfort area, I do get stares from specific people that make it a priority to point out the fact that I appear different from them. And to tell you the truth, that’s a big problem. Being judged because you’re a different color, isn’t something that should ever be normalized. When I go to school or to a park, I should be able to feel like I can be myself and not be afraid of who or what I am.

Growing up, I went to a school that was mixed with different races and colors, so being black shouldn’t have been a problem. But, for reasons I can’t understand, people still made jokes about the color of my skin. It made no sense because their friends were colored too. It was still funny to say a joke that had to do with being colored. Sadly, no adult ever stepped in and educated the problem. It was just normalized. Now, many will say that the jokes were just taken out of context, but race and color should never be a part of joke to begin with.

There were never any specific problems for me where I had to think about a punishment of a job and say that they were judging me because of my race. That’s a good thing to hear. The less stories we have on the news about racial problems the better. I’m here to tell the truth and it’s that I have felt very rarely equal in my life. I have had mixed friends, mixed staff in my environment, and mixed parents. I was educated early on in my life on how to stay safe, even if I was ever pulled over by a cop or put in a situation where I didn’t have a say because of my color or race. So far in my life, I haven’t had to use the things I was taught, and that is a good thing. I may not have had to use it in a serious situation, but I have still seen things and have been in positions where I didn’t feel comfortable about the words being said to me because I knew the individuals speaking to me were racist.

Having to write an article about my life experiences, specifically because I’m different, is a sad realization. This story should have never had to have even been written, but it did, and here I am. So, if you’re reading this and thinking to yourself the same way that I am, that I don’t want to have to read another article where a 14 year-old kid is having to explain the similarities and differences of being a specific color, then start thinking about how you can make a difference. What can you do to make sure another story like this is never brought up again? Give great thought to whether the people that you surround yourself with will ever be part of someone else’s story of how they were treated differently because of the color of their skin.