I Just Can’t Afford To Barely Pass

By Joy Lynn Clark


I was an overachiever at the things that I thought I could go for. My skin is barely passing. I don’t pass for white, black, black and white, Hispanic, or Asian even. The way it’s always seem to be more established. The blacks always seem to get the job. The black and whites (A.k.a. the mulatto’s) seems sort of established and they usually get the job too. The Hispanics are really cultural and these days people are interested. The natives well, we keep to ourselves or go for whats passing.

I was raised in a, “colored” community. Growing up I never really knew what to say. I knew other light skinned folks who would introduce me to their white mama and black daddy or vice versa. I would always think that they were so lucky to have such nice black folks and white folks on their side. The Hispanics were cool, and they would speak some Spanglish with the other Hispanics and I knew that they were lucky to be so tight. The creoles are or have family from New Orleans. Most Asians that I’ve met in the city live in their own Asian community and the ones in our neighborhood usually keep to themselves. Many times our skin matches.

Fox nation, those folks would always single me out in treatment or in the clinic and say, “fox nation”. I used to wonder why these people would always want to represent to me. I would look around the room and they would demand my attention and tell me all sorts of stories. Usually, I met the fox in the hospital.

Politically, I think most people would say like, black and something. I always thought that our folks agreed on an agenda years ago. Civil rights is solid. Maybe back then I would have a greed but, then again the world may never know. What I do know is, I’ve never gotten anything being black and something. Boy have I tried. Black and something is always that mixed couple with those mixed kids. So I knew years ago, I wasn’t passing for that. On standardized tests back in the day we had to write our race- white, black, Hispanic non-native or, Native non-Hispanic, Asian, or other. Don’t you know who you are? I would have went for native but my teacher said that all of the natives died from war or disease. Damn, I am going to have to be one of the others since I am living.

It’s pretty hard to be an Other. I would meet people who would give me combos like black Italian and Puerto Rican or, black and Korean, Nigerian and French etc. My combo was ratchitt, black Cherokee and Irish. I could sort of pass for it even though I didn’t really know many. First off, black and something we had a black agenda and I am clearly native looking but the natives are dead and the Irish will keep the cops away. I never figured out the cop thing but, there are cops. The cops would follow my family around the neighborhood, and then home. I didn’t pick up on it as a kid in a nice black and something family in a decent community. I used to think that maybe our car was not nice enough. I have a relative who is a cop.

My combos seemed pretty shaky. I never knew too many Irish and the one that I did meet was not in my family. I also kept on meeting these mulatto’s that are insisting on introducing me to their parents. Like, “yes I am truly mulatto and lucky”. My parents never came to many things when I was a kid.

I really started getting sick by the time I went to high school. I was back-and-forth to the hospital, the clinic, treatment, and after care. I met more fox in these places. They had skin like me too.

In college I kept my black agenda and my combos. However, as I met more students who are immigrants and students with different ethnic backgrounds I started to long for a more honest approach. I get more worked up about race and class but I just can’t seem to say how I feel. I mean black, Cherokee, and Irish should be cool with everyone. I feel like I’ve been treated unfairly by the cops, the Establishment, and the man too. I will get on my soapbox and black dudes would be like, yeah right.

Years later as I think about all of those blacks and Hispanics in jail, I suddenly realize that all of the fox are in the hospital.

Joy Clark is a writer, producer, and publisher. Lexington, KY

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