Have you ever been introduced to a person only to have them stare at you curiously? You know the look I mean, their eyes narrow a little and their mouth tightens in concentration. It took me several years to figure out what this look meant. The people were trying to figure out how they should be greeting me and the confusion stemmed from the fact that they couldn’t really figure out what my ethnicity was.
Color me surprised, was the phrase that often ran through my head after every incident like the one mentioned occurred. I would have thought by looking directly at me you could tell that I am a black woman but that is not necessarily true. To know that I am a black woman, you have to look past amber colored eyes, caramel colored skin, and hair streaked with copper and blonde. To look at me and know that I am a black woman, you have to look past the accepted notion that black women are dark, with rough hair, dark brown eyes, who flat out refuse to listen to rock music. They always assumed that I am part white. To the outside world, black people don’t look and act like I do.
Maybe I am jumping ahead in the story of what makes me, me. When I was in high school it was a fun past time for my friends and I to Google search our last names. It seemed that everyone around me was interested in where they came from. So after some time I discovered that the last name Mosby is actually Scottish, a derivative of the name Moresby. Quite an interesting tid-bit of information that Google search turned out to be.
I decided to share my piece of information with my mother and she told me that it made a lot of sense. In the small town of Forrest City Arkansas, which just happens to be my place of birth, it is expected to have “white blood”. After a statement like that one has to go into a discussion on genetics. How strong does this “white blood” have to be to show up in the features of a black child born 120 years after slavery was abolished?
It didn’t seem to make much sense to me that the recessive traits of Caucasian people could poke through the bloodline of my family, picking and choosing which of our faces to show up on. My mother has a Romanesque nose and thinner lips whereas I have a wide mouth and a “pouty” bottom lip. Not typical to black women, these facial features have marked us as different from our ethnicity.
Needless to say these discoveries made me curious and so I began to ask around. Why was my grandmother’s hair so soft and straight? Why are my eye’s amber colored? Why does Aunt Cherry have copper red hair? Why don’t I have any hips when my butt is so big?
“We’re Creole,” my Aunt Brenda said.
“We’re Native American,” said my Aunt Paulette. I am inclined to believe them both. After doing research on my family I found that my great-grandmother had a strong resemblance to the photos of Native American tribe members in that area and that the coloring my family is very common amongst Creole people. Broken down into its parts my ethnicity would then be, French, Haitian, Native American, and Caucasian, but it is all relative. To a person not born and raised in the southern part of the United States they might not recognize the accepted norm that if you are a lighter-skinned black person then it is owed to white slave owners of the past that mingled with your ancestors.
Living in the South, it was expected to be of mixed race, or multiple ethnicities. I find that it is quite uncommon to find a person who is completely one ethnicity. Now it has become unique to be what I sometimes refer to as “pure-blood”. I must say that I am quite pleased with my ethnic background. Because of my Creole roots my family has been strongly connected to the spiritual world, ghosts, angels and I have even gone so far as to become a full practicing pagan. Because of my Native American roots my family has always had a deep connection to the land. We are completely comfortable being outside in the dirt, working with our bare hands, making a lot out of a little. The fact that I am mixed has been the driving force in a lot of the choices I have made in my life. I love history and I do my best to honor each of mine with the way I dress, the music that I listen too, the books I read, and the elements that I worship. I am a walking tribute to my people, every single one of them.
Amber Mosby “Forgive me if I don’t get excited…”