January 29, 2011
Response to Wendy Lee’s Peeling Bananas
It is not often that I have to read an article or essay several times before I can make an appropriate response. As I read Wendy Lee’s article, Peeling Bananas, I found myself side-tracked by my own thoughts and feelings of being an African American here in the United States. As I read and reread, there were several areas that seemed to jump out at me and make me want to respond - what was so important about being referred to like peeling a banana, what in my own upbringing is attributed to the African culture and how Lee’s experience could easily be my own.
In the beginning of the essay, the author speaks of a friend whose father referred to her like peeling a banana. The author explains this by stating “ her appearance was Chinese, but her thoughts and values were American.” (190) I pondered this statement quite a bit because though I refer to myself as African American, I am more American than I like to admit. I dress in jeans, t-shirts and sneakers. I wear my hair permed, long and straight. I do not wear the traditional clothing, head wraps and hair styles often shown worn by women of Africa. Like the person in the essay, the color of my skin identifies me as one race and culture while my clothing, attitude and demeanor identifies me as another culture.
As the author described how in kindergarten, “we colored paper dolls: red was for Indians, black for Afro-Americans, yellow was for Chinese. The dolls that we didn't color at all—the white ones—were left to be Americans.”, (190)I recalled my own childhood, when coloring faces of different races, I insisted on coloring “Blacks” (as we were referred to when I was growing up) with the brown crayons because my skin was not black. I remember telling a peer that people may call us black but our skin is brown. This would eventually lead to a discussion of the Indians (Native Americans)...