The society we live in is full of boxes: boxes we must select or build ourselves, and boxes that other people fit us into. Though I am black, white and Native American, I’m often forced to choose one of the three, whether it’s during standardized tests or during conversations that ignore the possibilities besides and between white and black. Moreover, people who don’t know my racial identify often try to classify me, and often fail. But they know that I am an “other” of some sort, and I’ve gotten all sorts of guesses from Dominican to Aruban to Egyptian. Non-white, vaguely “exotic,” definitely “ethnic,” unmistakably “other.”
This is disorienting because it sometimes means that I feel disconnected from a community, and because it leads to questions like “where are you from” (America) or “no, where are your parents from” (America) or “what are you?” which make me feel rootless and alone.