REFLECTION: Looking for heritage

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Lyric Aquino

When I look into the mirror I see a wide nose, rounded cheeks, large lips and dark brown eyes that look like puddles of melted dark chocolate. My skin, brown like toasted almonds, is the first thing most people tend to notice when they see me. My hair, long black ringlets that cascade down my shoulders, hugging and wrapping themselves down my back, is often a topic of conversation.

My appearance, although distinctly of black descent, has a slight mixed appearance to it. Because I’m biracial, my childhood was a hodgepodge of several different cultures. It always seemed that I was never enough to participate in either one. My own insecurities blocked my passion and ultimate goal of cultural acceptance. But it was my longing for a connection to both of my cultures that eventually led to my acceptance and understanding.

I remember sitting on the couch with my step-dad talking about our family history. He told me he wasn’t sure where we came from because of the many name changes, deaths and separation members of our family endured.  As I asked more questions, his answers grew more vague. At one point, he furrowed his eyebrows while he talked to me and said he wished he knew more. He wanted to know the names of our family, the ones who suffered so we could have a chance at success, the ones whose blood splattered on the grass and covered the Earth.

My step-dad went on to tell me that although we didn’t know exactly where we came from, that didn’t mean we weren’t allowed to be proud. Part of what makes me so proud about my ancestors is they were able to survive long enough to create a strong lineage of people who often thought about their sacrifice. I often think about them, especially during Black History Month.

Because of their sacrifices, strength and determination, I’m able to write for a broad audience for people of all color. I’m able to reach for my dreams, educate myself as much as possible and most importantly, I have the ability to make change.

When I reflect on this Black History Month, I want to remember the rich culture my people have. The food, music, languages, cultures, books and movies that saturate our society. I’m so thankful to celebrate the life of my people with other members of the black community.

And when I have any doubts of if I deserve to be part of the black community and culture, I take a look at my rounded cheeks, my broad nose, my toasted almond skin, dark chocolate brown eyes and remember the dreams of my ancestors.

Lyric Aquino is the features editor. Contact her at [email protected]