Mommy, why wasn’t I born white?

Victoria Finney
Cambridge, MA

I still remember how upset she was when I asked her this. Like I had said something wrong that I shouldn’t have. Like I had failed a test somehow.

“Tori, aren’t you happy with the way you are? You are beautiful; black is beautiful.”

Why is she saying this? Why does she look so mad? I just want my hair to be like my friends’ hair in my class… so nice and straight and flat and easy. I’m tired of people tryna yank it out every stinking morning.

“No, mommy, I just wanna be like everyone else, like my friends in school!” That is when I started crying. And mommy looked so helpless, like she had done something wrong. And for the first time I felt ashamed for wishing I was different.

“No, Tori. You were born the way you are and you can’t change the way you are. You have to love who you are.” This wasn’t exactly the easiest concept to teach to a six-year-old. I bawled harder and she just held me in that way that mothers do to make all the bad in the world go away. A few weeks later, we went to the hair dresser and I got my first relaxer. It burned. My best friend at school asked me how I got the weeds out. I was just happy to be normal.

It took a few more years of being *the token* for me to appreciate who I really was. I love my mother. And I love this colorful life that she gave to me.


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