If asked how to describe me my parents would call me many things: perhaps they would mention my height, how much of a ham for the camera I've always been, they would probably mention my tendency of being nomadic (something instilled in me early on because of their divorce), affectionate, often overly sensitive, a reader from a remarkably early age, a happy baby, a troubled teenager.
But they would never call me Black. And my father, he will never call his little girl his adult son.
It wasn't until the headlines on my Facebook and the hashtags on my Twitter shined #blacklivesmatter that I felt compelled to be connected to a part of myself that I had in so many ways been completely blind to. Of course knew I was Black, and I knew that this world treated POC differently, but in my affluent and liberal suburban town, with my white Jewish family my blackness was swept up and locked away. We were colorblind. We fought about the things families often do, we talked about the things families often do, but the two things that were never talked about are the two things that are now almost all consuming to me: skin color, and after I came out, sexuality. I was not trans in high school; my gender did not become a question for me until later in life. I had to sift through and sort out what being gay as a Black female-bodied person meant to me and what it meant to the world, before my brain was free enough to take on my gender.
It felt like watching a wave come to shore. That summer, filled with my friends and I wearing black hoodies in rebellion, in solidarity. Late night rallies, filled with voices, these voices sometimes so incredibly haunting; mothers who no longer had their sons or daughters. Of the youth fighting back against a system that was showing it didn't give a damn about us. The faces of the police we marched against, literally right up against. Their expressions not saying we hear you, but instead we hate you. You are a part of this I said to myself, and moreover this is you. You are Black.
I want to see every city in this country, where Black people have been quarantined. Detroit, Baltimore, New Orleans, Chicago. Cities so unlike the suburbs I grew up in. You see it's crazy, that I have to make a journey to find what I've been staring at in the mirror for 25 years. But the reflection, it wasn't correct. It was disguised in girl's clothes, with accessories that went along with the high school I went to and a vocabulary that fit that of a Jew in suburbia. A back story that was just that. The extreme persecution that African Americans have faced, do face and will most likely always face in this country was unknown to me. It was understood, I read about slavery in our history books. But when I picked my head up and looked around my classroom I saw diversity. So much so in fact, 'it's over' I thought. We are free. How wrong I was, and how ashamed I am for ever thinking that.