Hello, my name is Karen and I suffer from imposter syndrome.
Most days, I don’t feel like part of the black community.
Ridiculous, I know, but I am being honest here.
Perhaps some background will help.
I was born in Japan and adopted into a white family.
A white family that didn’t really acknowledge that racism was a problem.
I lived in an entirely white community.
(okay, there was one other black family but they kept to themselves).
My oldest brother recently told me that he was concerned when I was younger because I almost seemed racist…against black people.
Because, what I was told was that we were dirty.
“Always in trouble”.
When I was a teenager we moved to St.Catharines two days before grade 9.
It was tough.
There I faced a struggle that literally “split me in two.”
Students from my high school (high end white academic) did not accept me initially because I was “black”.
But the black community did not accept me because I sounded “white”.
And that was the day I became neither.
And that’s where I’ve been stuck until today.
Some sort of teen purgatory.
I had been told, in not so many words, that I didn’t belong anywhere.
Except in the in-between.
It was easier to be the butt of the joke.
To laugh when people noticed my frizzy hair.
To point out my difference before others had the chance.
This week, I was convicted.
This week, I realized that I couldn’t be silent.
(I know…I’m a slow learner).
Or stand on the sidelines.
Or let others speak for me.
I realized that yes, my life is different and unique.
But because of that, my voice is unique.
And it needs to be heard.
I’m certain there are others who are living in the shadows, just like me.
Who need to step out.
You may have been told “You don’t belong in this arena.”
Or, “Don’t rock the boat.”
Or, my favourite, “Why be so sensitive? It’s not that big of a deal.”
I’m here to tell you, no.
That’s not true.
Your voice matters.
Let me repeat that for the people in the back.
Your voice matters.
My voice matters.
My writing is fraught with racial struggles of black people.
But my life does not always speak of that.
I have always struggled to connect myself to my black ancestors.
When with others of my own race I felt…
afraid that I would say the wrong thing.
Afraid that they would see right through me.
While also feeling like I’d come home.
But it wasn’t others holding me back.
Keeping me on the sidelines.
It was me.
So today I am making a declaration.
I am done being afraid.
My voice will matter.
It will be counted.
Even if my photos are not instagram pretty.
Or my words are muddled.
My name is Karen.
Fear will not rule over me.
I will not let what others think control me.
I am a black woman.
I am not perfect but I’m proud of my heritage.
And I want to share that with my children.
My voice may not be loud.
My lineage not “pure” in other people’s eyes.
My platform not huge.
But I will no longer be silent.
~ This post is dedicated to Masozi who claims that she learned so much from me but who has taught an old gal new tricks. I’m so glad we can walk this path together. Thank you.