Benny Eichert - TMI Project

Why do I still feel like a fraud? Like I don’t belong. Like I’m not black enough.

Racism has been a big part of my life, I just never acknowledged it. I hate stuff like this. It makes me uncomfortable, as I’m sure it makes a lot of us. It’s easy to make excuses and look away. But something this morning is calling me to confront this feeling. Two more lives were lost. Another black man and another black woman to add to a huge list of those taken by people who are supposed to protect and serve us. There is something wrong with America.  And it’s not just COVID 19. Racism has been here for a lot longer.

A year ago, I did a DNA test.  I read it and was stunned. I’m 1/4 Portuguese and 1/4 Spanish.  I’m 27.1% African from Northern and Western Africa. Why do I still feel like a fraud? Like I don’t belong. Like I’m not black enough.  

I was adopted by two Caucasian people. I was told I was Hispanic and Italian. I don’t blame them for this misinformation.  It’s very possible that my biological mother, whom I never met, didn’t know who my father was. I had 6 other adoptive siblings. Five were African American.  I never felt I belonged.  But, we all dealt with a lot of racism early on.

I was called a Spic and nigger in first grade. 

I was told my real parents didn’t love me. 

I was targeted by teachers and classmates because of my white parents.  

I had a barber tell me that he didn’t have clippers for “my type of hair.”

I was looked at differently because of my color.   

I feel a pain in my heart. A chill in my skin. I can’t describe it. I reach down at my chest where my heart is and feel something wet and warm.  I raise my hand and see pain and hurt.  It is like a dark moonless night. I don’t know why I thought if I ignored it long enough eventually I would be okay.  

My art has called to me to create from this pain.  It is one place I cannot hide what I feel.  My art is real, honest and painful.  Sometimes I hate it for this reason. But, my art has led to such growth in my life. It’s an outlet where I can say I am sorry to the younger version of myself for not validating this pain. I am sorry for not acknowledging my place in this fight.  

I am a puzzle with a lot of different pieces.
I am Portuguese, I am Spanish and……
I am Black.

 

This story was received as an online submission. 

 

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