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Let’s Talk About Race – Who I Am

I was invited to participate in a discussion about race and my views on it and who I am.  This essay is my contribution to the discussion, my thoughts on race and who I am as a black woman. Check out the whole discussion that is going on by visiting Rachee Fagg of Say it “Rah-Shay” where this discussion will be taking place with many other bloggers.

For some people, race is a topic, something that comes up from time to time. To those people the topic comes up only when something big, bad and important enough happens to make the news. When the news story breaks, people who see race as a topic rise up, protest, talk and make big scenes. Once the news cycle dies down, those people can go back to ignoring race and their normal lives.

There are other people, people like me, for whom race is an everyday thing, something that is not put aside. Based upon who my parents are, I was going to be born black, there was no option. Based upon how the genetics lined up, I was born a black woman. These are two facts that I am unable to change, alter and had no control over. Other facts about my life and who I am I got to choose. I am a Christian, wife and mother. Those choices I freely made. It is interesting to me that the choices I freely made to determine who I am, as a Christian wife and mother have never caused me problems and controversy. On the other hand, the things that determine who I am, that I had no control over, my race and my sex have been the source of a great many problems and controversies.

Many people say that they are color blind, that they never see race or color when they look at a person. I have never been that way. Since the first time I remember seeing people, I remember seeing color. My mother was a golden-yellow that reminded me of the sun and flowers. My father was a chocolate-brown that reminded me of the Tootsie roll treats he brought me for snacks. My four sisters and brothers were all different shades of brown. All my life, whenever I see people, I see race and color. However, I never saw color as a problem, as a bad thing or a good thing. I have always seen color as just another fact about people, a way of remembering them and identifying them

When I was growing up in Southwest Philadelphia, in a neighborhood full of prejudiced and racist whites who made me fear for my life each time I left or returned home I saw them as white. I saw myself as a young black girl and I knew there was a difference. When I went to college and law school and saw very few people who shared my light brown complexion, I noticed race and color. When I walked into courtrooms as an attorney, and saw few if any, other black or women attorneys in the room, I noticed race and color. When I raise my children, walk through malls and even watch television, I notice race and color. I notice race and color because they exist, they are real things. In my mind, in my world, noticing race and color is not a bad thing, it is noticing things that are real and exist in the world.

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I am Janeane Davis, a black, female, Christian, wife and mother. I am a black woman. You should notice that because it is a real thing, it is who I am. You should notice it and then move on to see what else there is of me.
25 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Race – Who I Am”
  1. Wonderful post, Janeane. I also see race and a rainbow of colors every day, but I don’t let it define my opinion of people.

  2. Great post! I agree with you and feel the same. Yes, I notice and are aware of those of different races, but that doesn’t make me treat them any different. I’m in Hawaii, so there are so many different races here that color is usually not an issue. I for one, am of a mixed race. I am white, Hawaiian, Filipino, Japanese, and Chinese all in one!

  3. We should honor and celebrate who we are. Celebrate that you are a woman. Celebrate your ancestry. Celebrate it all. If those around you don’t want to celebrate, their loss. Great post.

  4. As a member of a multi-racial family, the color of our skin and our differences are celebrated as much as the things that make us alike.

  5. What a great post to share. I like to think people bring something to the table who with they are and that includes race and ethnicity. To say that we don’t notice differences is silly in my book. To me, it’s all about appreciating the things that make us each different. In my studies I was taught to think of people as more of a tossed salad where all of the ingredients are different but added together for a tasty dish…… and unlike a “melting pot” where all of us are thrown in and are turned into one thing. I’ve always tried to use that focus in my life, it’s refreshing too.

  6. this was a great post… I love how you said as long as we move on and it’s soo true… thanks for sharing and will share with my friends…

  7. I always notice the different complexion,color and race of people but I don’t see it as something bad or something to cause a problem.. Nice post and beautiful photo.. Very well said.

  8. A great post and it is interesting to read everyone’s comments. I suppose I do see color, but it’s not something I’ve really thought about before. Like a few other people commented, I see people as people.

  9. What’s interesting to me is how there are so many things that are different based on ethnicity. My two sisters are black and I am white. Their hair is so different than mine, and my mom had a hard time learning how to care for their hair after taking care of mine. We are all different, made differently, and may look differently, but talking about it shouldn’t be as taboo as it is.

  10. Way to stand out there and really make people take notice. I’m Native American and have been denied knowing my cultural heritage most of my life. Because my great-great-grandmother left behind her “white-looking” children so they wouldn’t have to make that long journey during Andrew Jackson’s Indian Relocation, her descendants were always coached to never reveal that we are actually Native American. Now, not only do I have to really dig to find out anything about my heritage (Mvskoke), but I have to PROVE my heritage to even be able to claim it. Unlike many tribes, there are no financial benefits to to being Mvskoke, but to legally call myself Native American, I have to carry a card. To carry that card, I have to prove from relics of the past what horrendous things were done to several members of my family members – and piecing that together from a past where where my ancestors tried to hide their ancestry to avoid relocation has not been easy. Yes. Race is a real thing and it comes with a heritage that we should all be proud of, no matter what the skin color. I really hope to be able to one day embrace mine.

  11. What a wonderful post! People are people. Period.We are all from the same mold and we all have blood running through our veins. Sad that in this day and age we still deal with this garbage! P.S. That is a beautiful picture of you! 🙂

  12. I really enjoyed your post and how honest and descriptive you were. Its sad to see race as an issue we all get discriminated at times. My father is dark and my mother is white. I remember going to school and my father picked me up from the bus stop on his way to work. He was running late and decided to take me since it was on the way and save me a trip on the bus. Once I got to school the principal came into my class to make sure I was ok. She told me a woman called because they noticed I got into the car with a dark man. When I told her it was my father, you should have seen the look on her face.

  13. Great post but I plead the fifth. I have no opinion on this because I make it a point not to care about trivial matters such as color, race, gender, etc. People are people. That’s all there is to it.

    Well damn, you made me give an opinion after all. Kudos to you my friend.

  14. Great post. I hate that in 2013 race is still such an issue. I was raised simply to understand that we are all people and we all have feelings, wants and needs….I was taught to respect my elders and help those in need. Period. Never about color. Although I suppose I do see the world in color- I think I have said that I don’t “see” color with the intent that i just see people.

    PS my mom was a lawyer too- we only use female lawyers for our legal needs. It’s a tough profession!

  15. This was well written. I admit I have never been a person raised to see color because everyone are human beings to me. But I do admit that knowing who you are and the risk that come with being a brown woman is important to take note of.

  16. What a wonderful post Janeane! Your last statement “You should notice that because it is a real thing, it is who I am. You should notice it and then move on to see what else there is of me.” is amazing and says so much. Thank you for writing in this. I am looking forward to reading more on Rachee’s discussion!

  17. I really appreciated this post. I hate when people say they don’t see color … I think you eloquently share why being “colorblind” might strip some of the identity from an individual. Thank you for sharing.

  18. I love this! I might join in on the topic. I see color to but like you said it is a way to identify someone, not that it is a good thing or a bad thing.

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