Have You Seen Yourself: Forgetting Your Own Race

There is a strange phenomenon that I have been experiencing for a few years now. It’s been on and off but I always remember that I have felt this way before. What’s the phenomenon? It’s simple: forgetting my own race among other races. As an example, imagine that you are White but you spend so much time around, let’s say, Hispanics that you sometimes forget you yourself are not a Hispanic. It’s like that for me.

I would not be surprised if this phenomenon, whatever it can be called, is more common that people would like to admit. In my particular case, I hang around my friends often and many of them are not a part of my race. Because I spend so much time with them, I can sometimes forget that I am not a part of their race. To be frank, it has more to do with skin color than with culture.

Now, skin color is not important. It shouldn’t be important at all. Why? Anyone’s skin color can change, regardless of how or why it gets changed. It should never matter what color your skin is and that shouldn’t affect how people perceive you (however that is still a struggling ideal in the modern world.)

Most of the time, I experience this after going long periods of time without observing myself, either in a mirror or by simply looking at my hands for instance. I can be at a small get-together with friends and for whatever reason, somewhere in that time I’ll forget my own skin color is not like theirs. I become so engrossed in their company that I don’t pay attention to myself or at least my physical appearance. And after they leave or I leave, I may go look in a mirror and be reminded that I am indeed not like them.

I’ve discussed this topic to my mother actually. She was quite taken aback by my experience and she responded with, “I would never forget my race or skin color ever.” I came to her honestly and she somewhat dismissed my experience as unreal in a sense; that was a bit hard to swallow. Still, I can understand her confusion as she has never actually experienced this phenomenon herself so maybe she wasn’t the best person to discuss this with. Whatever the case, those I have discussed this topic with all seem to find it strange and unusual.

This post is not meant to suggest that there is a problem. I am simply addressing a frequent happening that happens for me. It is neutral at this point as I am not negatively or positively affected by it and others do not seem to understand how to process it. After all, it is a strange phenomenon. It does take effort to look in the mirror when you choose to and acknowledge that your natural skin is the color that it is.

You know, thinking about it, I only have like three friends who are the same race as me. Every other friend is a different race. That could be a big reason as to why I experience this phenomenon. Regardless, my experience is real but at the end of it all, it shouldn’t really matter. I suppose maybe in certain parts of the world my happening might get me into trouble but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

There’s not much more to say about this phenomenon, at least at the moment. So, I will leave you to marinate on these thoughts. Until next time, cheers.


 

Does anyone else experience this? Is there more to this happening that should be acknowledge or analyzed? Is there an actual name for this phenomenon? If there is a name, please let me know! Don’t forget to leave all of your thoughts below as well!

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3 thoughts on “Have You Seen Yourself: Forgetting Your Own Race

  1. Hmm. So, as I read this, the first thought that came to my mind was this is quite a difficult thing to write about, and it’s quite brave of you to put your thoughts into words, as it might be construed by some negatively. It’s great that you don’t shy away from writing about controversial yet important stuff.

    I can relate to this at some level. I’m Indian, but I’ve been living in the UK for quite some time now as I go (or rather went, as it just finished) to university here. In my own country, I never really thought about my race or skin color because I was always surrounded by Indians. There’s lots of diversity in India, but it’s in terms of lingual, cultural or religious backgrounds, not so much in terms of ethnicity. The only times, I might have been reminded of my race might have been while watching some stereotyped version of Indians/ Asians on some western news or tv show, but that too was rare. On my first day at uni, I sat on the grass and under a tree, and tried to take my new surroundings in. Apart from the beauty of the campus, the thing that hit me the most, in a good way, was the diversity. There were people from different corners of the world, of different colors and ethnicity roaming, talking and laughing about everywhere. It wasn’t culture shock per se, but it was really overwhelming, yet beautiful. Throughout my stay in the UK and my life at uni and now beyond, I’ve interacted and been friends with people and professors of my own as well as different ethnicity, and I didn’t really think about my race, just like you. Sometimes, you have to see a photo of yourself standing in between a bunch of different looking and different colored people to become aware of your own color. And I believe that the color of my skin doesn’t really matter.

    The only times I’ve been reminded are during some very rare and cruel incidents of subtle or overt racism. I’m glad they’ve only been a few. And sometimes I’m reminded in a good way, when my friends form different countries are curious about certain Indian traditions and customs, or while shaking my head to the latest societal/ political/ economic shitstorm happening in India or while cooking or getting a whiff of homecooked Indian style food or while excitedly discussing something of our childhoods with an Indian friend in rapid Hindi while our non-Hindi speaking friends stare at us flummoxed and amused 😀

    I was trying to think of this from your mom’s point of view as well, and I get it. My grandparents would have had the same reaction as your mother. They’re very open-minded and not racially biased, but for them, race is important, I guess. Having being born and struggled to live through a time of colonization and overt racism, I get why they are like that.

    Sorry, I wrote down a huge comment. I don’t even know what I was trying to say with this. I just went on writing whatever thoughts your post triggered.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for commenting Catt 🙂 It’s nice to see you around again. I think your comment is lovely because it simply attests to the idea that this phenomenon is boundless. It makes me realize that this happens maybe more often than is said in the world but I stand by saying it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
      I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to express whatever came to mind. Thanks for reading. Much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

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