Imposter Syndrome: Janelle Blogs on The Measure of Innocence

This show invites the devious little beetle that likes to tell me “You are not meant to be part of this” to sit in my ear and chirp, chirp chirp away.

I grew up with all white people. I was always the token black person. I didn’t know any black people. I didn’t know anyone that looked remotely like me. I did not know anyone who had felt even a splinter of my confusion about the divide that naturally happens between the two sides of my heritage. I grew up thinking that I was “a white person in a black person’s body.” I didn’t know that black people could be brilliant. I didn’t know black people could be punk. I didn’t know black people could be ballerinas. I didn’t know that black people were… people. It was such an abstract idea for someone who didn’t look like all the white people around me could actually be people, rather than just a concept of what black people are “supposed” to be like. I didn’t know ‘black people’ could just as easily be described as ‘people.’

I was not excluded from standing under this canopy of “what are black people?” I had no idea who I was. I would look in the mirror and see something different from what I felt because I had only felt like I was supposed to be part of this white-skinnedness and made to feel that I could never possibly be entirely part of this white world. But they’d let me hang as long as I kept on a nice face, so as not to scare anyone as “the angry black person.” They let me hang as long as I never “talked” or “acted” black. They let me hang as long as I never made them feel bad for asking me stupid questions like: “Do black people get hotter in the sun?” I DONT KNOW IVE NEVER BEEN WHITE?????? WHAT K”IND OF? NO~ I DONT? WHO.**

Black & White. The epitome of this or that. Of which, I am neither. Of which, I am both.

The entirety of me, that feels like it’s never half, partial or whole, questions whether or not I have the right to tell the story of my people. Because, are they my people? Do I have the privilege of donning that beautiful ‘Black’ crown? Have I earned it? Is there a way to earn it without several gunshots, an unwarranted frisk or an illegal search? Is there a way to just be unapologetically black without fear? Are there answers to these questions? Did I just write an entire paragraph consisting of questions? Maybe?

My light skin.

My light skin makes me question my authority to answer specific “black questions.”

My light skin makes me feel guilty for being seen as a person “a bit less of a threat.”

My light skin makes me feel displaced.

 

My light skin.

My light skin is freckled, dimpled and stretched.

My light skin is smooth, tough and resilient.

My light skin sweats, bleeds and tears.

 

My light skin.

My light skin makes me feel like I don’t deserve the melatonin so graciously gifted to me.

My light skin makes me feel like I don’t appreciate the vivacity in which my hair emerges.

My light skin makes me feel like the voice that rings weeps for my ancestors, praises them, thanks them.

 

My light skin.

My light skin makes me feel like my ideas are only half heard.

My light skin makes me feel like my words are only half understood.

My light skin makes me feel like my thoughts are only half wa

 

My light skin.

My light skin makes me feel as though I have no part in either of the worlds from which I emerged and knotted up together to be… me.

My light skin makes me feel like I have made something of myself, despite myself.

My light skin makes me feel like I am myself in spite of myself.

 

**DO NOT EVER ASK A BLACK PERSON THIS QUESTION. JUST. DON’T.