So I tried to find a cartoon character that best depicts me and I stumbled upon this imagine…
Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to Ariel. She’ll be helping me explain the complexity surrounding my being.
As we all know South Africa is rich for its culture and diversity, I would know since I’m mixed.
My mother is a Cape Town coloured and my father is a Sesotho man from Soweto.
How my folks met is a story for another day.
I’m the fruit of their love, literally, I’m Lerato.
Anyway let’s get back to the discussion at hand…
The reason behind the title of this short story is to explain how life has been thus far as a mixed young lady.
When I was young I felt like I was “missing something” I don’t know, I think it’s because I looked different compared to family members from my mother as well as my fathers side.
I think another aspect that came into play was the fact that I don’t speak any of the African languages, yes I understand a bit here and there but I cannot have a meaningful conversation in an African language, however I can speak Afrikaans.
Language was definitely the root of all of the constant criticism and disrespect I’ve experienced throughout my 20 years.
I hated how I was made to believe that I was “less than” for not knowing my “mother tounge” as they call it.
I felt the constant judgment for preferring to speak Afrikaans over English or an African language, as a result my accent is that of a Capetonian, I mean can you blame me? I come from the Cape first and foremost!
- People that were suppose to support me would make me feel like I was “picking one side of myself over the other.”
- People that I regarded as “my friends” would openly and with delight make me feel like I was a diluted black individual because I had a coloured accent.
I was told I was “wrong” for openly proclaiming that I am a Black girl back in high school.
- I was told that because I had a coloured accent.
- Because I relate more to coloured people
- Because my hair looked like coloured hair
- Because I carried myself like a coloured girl
- Because I spoke Afrikaans that I cannot say that I’m Black when legally ladies and gentlemen, I am Black!
Race has always been a touchie subject and it’s understandable, however racism always seems to show itself through the opinions others have in regards to how they “believe” you should act or be.
I’ve continued to do what makes me happy and be who I am, who God created me to be.
I won’t deny that being a mixed little girl had it’s disadvantages back then.
Imagine being told at such a young age perhaps 9 or 10 that there’s “something wrong with you” or “you’re a coconut” when you genuinely don’t see or believe that there’s anything wrong with you until someone decides to point it out.
Alot has changed since those days, I’ve embraced who I am and I no longer let what other people have to say effect me.
There will always be challenges but the way in which you come out in the end speaks volumes about your character.
I carry my flag high with pride.
I hope to share my stories with my future mixed babies.
At the end of the day, the complexity will always be there, however all you need is a map to guide you through it.