Brown dad. I never felt white.

Terri Kimmel,
Corpus Christi, TX

My dad had jet black hair and tawny olive skin. His mother was Sicilian and his father had an English surname, but family lore says there is Native American ancestry. My mother is fair-haired with light skin. My parents divorce when I was in elementary school and dad maintained custody of us my entire childhood. I never felt the same as the other white kids in my rural, racially-homogenous North Texas school. I think that may be due in part to the fact that we were the only Catholic family many of those years. People used to approach my dad in public places speaking Spanish. He would have to explain to them that he only spoke English. I now live in South Texas surrounded by beautiful brown-skinned people. The culture is warm and generous. I am tolerated with patience and kindness, but not accepted. I even learned to speak Spanish. My mom told me that when she and my dad were dating in college in the late 1960s, a kindly older black woman approached them and asked, “Are you a white boy?” Dad paused and, a little flustered he answered, ” I think I am!” People sometimes refer to me now as “gringa” or “anglo.” It doesn’t fit.

 

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