The Discovery of My Skin Color

An open letter, by Jillene

8/14/17

Thanks for taking the time to click on this.

I don't know exactly what to say about all of the "uneasyness" I have felt lately or about where we are as a nation, but after seeing what took place in Charlottesville this weekend, it got me thinking. Thinking about... the discovery of my skin color.

This weekend, I shared a letter with friends on Facebook about my own journey, and I'd like to share it with you too. While I don't know the answer to how we create change for more acceptance, I do know the experiences I've had. I believe all of our stories are important in order to understand each other's differences. Thanks again for taking the time to read my story. 

THE DISCOVERY OF MY SKIN COLOR 

Is a journey I've personally been on since my earliest memories. 

My father is from Pakistan. Born and raised. He came to the United States when he was 18 and later started his own business, which supported my mother, brother, and I in the early years of our lives as a family. He was murdered at his business, a convenience store in Minneapolis, MN, when I was 3 years old. HE is where I get my brown skin tones, and jet black hair/eyes. 

My mother is 100% Swede, the daughter of a Swedish couple, one born in the States, one who came from Sweden to the States. Mom was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. Blonde-haired blue eyed baby girl. SHE is where I get my button nose & dimples. 

You put the two together, and here I am... this mix of caramel and light brown, which turns more golden by the summer sun. 

Over the course of my life, there have been countless times where people assume my identity for me. And they aren't shy about it... fluently speaking Spanish to my face, shocked when I don't respond in the same language. Asking in the supermarket what race I am, because they've "never seen a mix like me." 

The discovery was ramped up after 9/11, when I was 15, after being called brutal names. It was obvious I looked more like the terrorists that committed those heinous acts than I did the kids I went to high school with who were calling me the names. 

Growing up with my white mother, in a predominately white suburb, with white friends, cousins & neighbors, it was easy to check the "Caucasian" box any time it came up. It wasn't until high school that I realized I was checking the wrong box. 

I discovered that I am not perceived as being a white female. 'Caucasian' is not a term the majority of strangers would use to identify me.

And you know what? It took awhile, but I am finally okay with that. I'm finally comfortable with it! What a feeling, right??

That discovery has been marred by a resurgent of hate for people of various skin colors. The things I've read on the internet today - in the year 2017 - scare me to the core. 

In the 1980s, my father came to this country for freedoms he could have never known in his own country. How could he have fathomed that within his children's lifetimes, those freedoms would continue to be challenged by pure and evil hatred for one's SKIN COLOR? 

I wish he was here today so we could talk about it. 

I know you don't care about my political opinion, or who I voted or didn't vote for... I realize that's not why you follow the fun I strive to bring through my radio shows and social media. There has come a time for me where I've realized this isn't about politics. It's about people. People like me - a brown, gay, female - who, 50 years ago wouldn't have the chance at the career, the chance at a life partner, the security I've had. Had I been born in my father's country, I would have NEVER had this life. 

But this is America. Where I was born! Where I love. 

People like me are scared. People like me are begging for change and trying to be a part of the change. People like me are going to love all types of people, despite any vile opinions and beliefs. People like me are going to believe in love, and in people. 

Lord be with us.

~Jillene 

PS Below are a couple pictures... dad & I, mom & I, and one of our first photos together as a family of three. :)

 

 

 

Email me at Jillene@kticountry.com or send me a message on Facebook.

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