Mixed Race America
The works of Child of the America’s by Aurora Levins Morales and What It’s Like to be a Black Girl (For Those of You Who Aren’t) by Patricia Smith was because of the direct contrast of the statements “I am whole” in Morales poem verses “…and feeling like you’re not finished” in Smith’s poem. Both statements in these poems are strong, stating a completion of a human soul and both poems are in agreement that race is a part of the completion to the human soul. Levins Morales’ poem explains what it is really like to be of mixed race in America. Smith’s poem gives a deep, more individual approach of what it is like to be a black girl. Race is a background for both poems.
Race and ethnicity have drastically changed in the last half-decade, due to attitudes and issues changing and America has become one great melting pot of culture and race. Over the last 50 years, our culture has changed due to interracial relations and immigration. Immigration truly came to America through Ellis Island in the 1800’s when immigrants were settling through New York. In Child of the Americas the narrator makes reference of this in the statement, “a product of the ghettos of New York I have never known.” Back then, cultures were so vastly different that people stayed to themselves for fear of the unknown. The narrator in the poem Child of the America’s drew me in with the description of her background because she knew she was very different racially. She is not bothered by the fact that she is ethnically diverse. She is, “a mestizo of the Caribbean, a child of many diaspora, a U.S. Puerto Rican Jew.” When I first read the word diaspora I naturally assumed that it was a Spanish term. Diaspora actually is a Greek term and can mean the scattering, migration, or dispersing of a group. She knew that she was,” an immigrant and the daughter of immigrants.” She is speaking with a voice that states that she is at peace with her identity of immigrants. Slavery was also an issue that deterred mixing races, as it was unheard of for interracial marriages to take place. Interracial marriage is now common in America. One out of every seven relationships is now considered “mixed.” I am personally married to a black man. We lived in Kalamazoo, Michigan and the entire south side of Kalamazoo is filled fully of mixed races, mostly white, black and Hispanic. Society is seeing children that only have an 1/8th or less of black in them but their birth certificates say African American. The contrast of the content of Smith’s poem “it’s like being 9 years old and feeling like you’re not finished, like your edges are wild, like there’s something, everything wrong…” and Levins Morales’ poem “I am whole” explains exactly what my oldest god daughter is going through. My oldest god daughter, who is eleven years, is having an identity crisis. I say that my god daughter should feel like the narrator in the poem Child of the America’s because of the terminology that the narrator uses. “I am new… I was born at the crossroads and I am whole” speaks of a person that understands she is culturally challenged, “Africa is in me, but I cannot return, Taíno is in me but there is no way back. Europe lives in me, but I have no home there.” She shows that she is at acceptance that she is of mixed races and has found a grace with who she is. My god daughter is mixed, but she does not feel whole. Ironically, she feels that she does not fit in well and has self-identity issues. I was drawn to the poem Child of the America’s because my god daughter should feel a freeing feeling of being able to have the best of both worlds culturally, but instead feels like the narrator in the poem, What It’s Like to be a Black Girl. In Smith’s poem, the imagery of what her life was like as a black girl forced me to draw comparisons of what my god daughter’s life is like, and question if she has those same feelings, those same situations. “It’s popping a bleached white...
References: Clugston, R.W. (2010) Journey Into Literature. Retrieved from http://content.ashford.edu.
Lajos, C. (2009). Blended Nation: Portraits and Interviews of Mixed-Race America. Library Journal. 134(20). 104. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Porter, Eduardo. Contemplations of Being of Mixed Race in America. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/11/opinion/11mon4.html
Spickard, P. (1999). The New Colored People: The Mixed-Race Movement in America. Journal of American Ethnic History. 18(2), 153-156. Retrived from EBSCOhost.
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