New Post: 2nd Tuesday of the Month
My Secret Sister
I emerged from the womb erased & confused. I was born in Warsaw to a Polish mother & a not-present Bengalee father -- a mixed-race child, a brand & label stamped on my skin before I could even speak.
To my mom's mother, I wasn’t considered good enough to be part of the family because of my Bengalee blood, skin, & features. Now this is the secret part, the part that’s hard for me to talk about. Before I was born, my mom had another daughter, but a white daughter. At my birth, she was maybe six or seven.
My grandmother took her from my mom.
She told my mom that a white daughter could never be raised with someone like me, who is brown, that it would be harmful for my sister, that somehow she would catch my “brown” disease. With that, my sister was gone forever from my & my mom's life. My mom’s punishment for her intimacy with a non-white person.
I wasn’t allowed to talk about my sister. She came to visit me, once or twice before I left Poland, but I don’t remember her. I just remember my mom telling me afterwards -- don't tell anyone about her. For years I didn't. Today I no longer keep this secret. It’s a scarred wound, I've picked apart to get rid of the infection.
I’m angry. Every day. None of this was under my control, but I am responsible for handling my emotions. I have to live with the pain of my thirteen-year-old self finding pictures my sister drew as a child, of finding photographs of the two us the couple times we were together. Then not being able to process the loss & pain, or understand it, or even begin to name it, & using scissors to try to cut out the answer in my skin. Because I knew, though I didn’t have the words, that my skin was the problem.
I continue struggling with my identity, not feeling tied to any particular label. This year, I took a DNA test confirming I am South Asian & Eastern European. I don't know much about my Bengalee or my Polish culture. My mom wanted me to be a white American so badly, she didn’t tell me where my father was from until I begged her when I was twelve. She wanted me to assimilate, but I refused. Or rather, I wasn’t allowed to assimilate, “where are you from” is a question I hear over & over.
Google “mixed-race children” and you’ll see some racist, triggering shit. No, we are not in a post-race world. No, white features do not make POC folx more acceptable. No, we are not exotic objects for your Instagram feed.
To me, white supremacy is not some abstract concept or some philosophical/theoretical term. White supremacy is the monster who stole my family, my identity, and almost myself.
Everyday I wake up to this monster, and everyday it also awakens my desire & need to fight, rebel, resist. How can I not, when I see how people are treated based on the color of their skin, even subconsciously. How can I not, when police murder Black folx every day. How can I not, when the statistics prove again & again the scarcity of resources available for darker-skinned individuals. My story is a pattern in this white supremacist tapestry, and so is yours.
After keeping my sister a secret for years, I started to tell people. At first, it overwhelmed me. Now, I want everyone to know how fucked up white families can be. I want to talk about the trauma of POC folx raised by white people. I know there are other stories out there, and they need to be told.
Let’s share, let’s be fucking vulnerable, because we are here, and if we don’t speak up, who will?
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