Today, I am ...
This weekend, I'm definitely black. Yes, I'm still mixed, but I'm really just black.
I haven't suddenly decided to accept my heritage (done), I'm not talking or dressing differently (unless you count a pair of gold sandals bought in frenzy of spring shopping) and I haven't gotten a tan.
I say I'm black this weekend because of how people are interacting with me. This happens sometimes - people treat me in a certain way and, call me paranoid, I can just tell that they have made some assumptions about me.
There are times when people think I'm Latina. I recognize these times by the slower speed at which people talk to me, the surprise when I don't have an accent, the questions about where my parents are from and were they born there (i.e. which one came over the border, young lady?). On those days, Latinos ask me for directions or try to sell me food in Spanish. Crazy as it sounds, I feel a little guilty on those days - like I'm a bad Mexican for forgetting my mother tongue and the struggles of my people.
Some days I'm so ambiguous, people don't think about what I am and just act like themselves. Sometimes, this means actin' a fool and saying things you wouldn't say in front of a person of color. I like to think of those as teachable moments, when there's time. I know when I'm having one of those days because, invariably, a taxi driver will talk to me about how the blacks can't be trusted and asks why am I going to Harlem. There's nothing quite like a high-speed, 60-block ride uptown arguing about race to get your heart rate up.
But this weekend, like times, I'm black. I'm getting the black folks eye contact and nod on the street, a shoe salesman felt a little too familiar and made jokey comments about white women and shoe shopping and I got followed in a department store. Nothing about me changes, and yet, everything about the way I'm treated changes.
Experiencing being treated like what I'm not is a little interesting, but it also feels like accidental passing, which I'm very against. "You're black" interactions are comfortable because it's what I think of myself as, but it's also a shame that, despite the Obama mantra of change and accepting, we really haven't and really aren't.