I moved to America at the age of 10, in the middle of winter and in the whitest state ever, Maine. Not three months after I had landed in the U.S, I was to start school, and let me tell you, it was an extremely different environment.
Basically, I lived there as a cat in a crowd of dogs. I didn’t speak English, and I didn’t know what to do to fit in, even though that was the least of my worries. Not even a year passed before my black friends referred to me as “white.”
At first I didn’t think much of it, since I was thankful that I was adapting and evolving to my surroundings rather quickly, but soon I started to hate being called half white. To be honest, it was frustrating to be considered something I was not. Everything was somehow against me all the time; whenever I disagreed with someone it came back to me as being “white.”
This would cause me to get angry, so I would tell them to stop. This was always something repeating itself over and over again no matter the situation. Somehow, it was my fault for living in a white suburb, and somehow it was my fault that I was speaking and acting like them. Somehow my black friends would blame me for being too white. However, I never felt the need to placate them and have prospered as a young black girl in a white community.
There's a dignity and beauty that seems to come with being black. Just the terms black or African have a cultural connotation that is strong and meaningful for most people. You couldn’t just be black or African without having the self respect, dignity, pride, and toughness that should be written in the dictionary under those two words.
That’s where the problems seem to be created when living in a white society. This is also where the term white or "whitewashed" comes to play a huge role. Being whitewashed refers to the way blacks or other ethnicities would act after living with and being surrounded by white people during a certain amount of time.
When I came to the U.S., there was something different—not the people, not the weather nor the culture, but something else. That's when it dawned on me that, no matter where I went, I was always told to be happy fitting in with the other blacks, so I made friends with the Kenyan and Ugandan kids while I lived in those countries.
Having moved around when I was younger, I was always the one that made amends with the Somali kids who disliked me for being closer with children from other black communities. When I got here to the U.S., I felt the need to learn English quickly in order to be able to communicate with the white kids in Maine so that it would be easier to make friends and get closer to people. Living in a white community didn’t change my identity as a Somali girl even though it was a struggle, and sometimes I felt isolated.
I see a difference in the way black women or men act versus the way white women or white men act. There is the strong manner, willingness, drive, and honesty that can be seen in black women and less in white women. White women are known to be softer in emotions, quieter, and easier to persuade.
In fact, such factors take place with men as well in the sense that, black men can be more emotionally hidden, showing only tough love. White men, on the other hand, tend to be more emotionally outspoken, openly loving, and communicative.
With all this in mind, I’m a girl who is considered by my black peers to be Whitewashed which isn’t entirely true. I have the willingness and drive of black women as well as the softer emotions and easy going nature of white women. I consider myself to be a good combination of both cultures.