By Sharai Sims
I have started a new phase in my life. I am a black woman, 22 years old, and living in rural Minnesota, where assimilation is a must for social acceptance. For so many years, I thought I was accepted because of my light skin and the ability to flat iron my hair so bone straight that you never saw my nappy roots at the nape of my neck. I thought it was the traces of whiteness in my family line that separated me from the other black kids. Just as ambiguous as my looks, I couldn’t be placed nor did I try to limit myself when moving through social crowds and groups. I was accepted seamlessly.
Because of the necessity I felt to assimilate, I never acknowledged the things that were actually setting me apart: my humor (black), my style (black), and my insight (black).
When I was a sophomore in high school, I remember a party that my white friends were throwing. At the party, all the popular girls (there were about nineteen of us) wanted to do a group shirt saying “sophomore class of 2012.” Funny, I was actually flattered to be considered a) popular and b) the only black person invited, even though our whole school was pretty diverse.