"It’s Hard to be a Diamond in a Rhinestone World"
Editor's Note: This is the full text of an award-winning essay by Lexi Brock, which she referenced in our April 2017 Different Like You profile. It is reprinted here with her permission.
Dolly Parton once said, “It’s hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world.” Upon hearing these words, they immediately resonated in my soul. However, it is not for the reasons one might think. I am not another big-headed teenage girl that thinks she’s better than everyone else. I think that to know where I’m coming from you need to know a little more about me and some of my life experiences.
Let’s just get right down to it, my mom is white. My dad is black. I am mixed. Something you might find strange is that I didn’t know I was mixed until middle school. Prior to that time in my life, I never paid any attention to my mom’s skin being a little bit lighter than my dad’s. I never saw people as the color of their skin; I saw them for who they were.
You would think that by this point in time, people would be less likely to judge someone based solely on the pigmentation of their skin. If you thought that, you’d be wrong. I remember people saying, “Oh you can’t date her, she’s mixed.” As if having tan skin affected my character in some superior way. No matter how hard I tried, I was always ‘too white’ for the black kids and ‘too black’ for the white kids.
I wish that only adolescents displayed such ignorant behavior, but to my dismay adults also look down on biracial kids. They also look down on interracial marriages. My parents even struggled to find a church that would accept our not-so-typical family. People like to think that racism doesn’t exist anymore, that people are no longer judged by the color of their skin. However, I have noticed that families of mixed races encounter the most judgment. I think it’s because you have opinions being thrown at you from both sides. Even after reading something like this, some will argue that racism is dead and gone. For those who believe that, imagine someone cowering over you as they spit the words ‘mixed breed mutt.’ Imagine sitting in class listening to harsh jokes about one side of your ethnicity. Oh, but they tell me I shouldn’t be offended because I’m only half black. That’s the thing about being mixed; you’re thrown into whatever category benefits the other party at the time.
Despite all the disapproving glances and hurtful comments I have received over my 18 years, I wouldn’t want to be anything other than mixed. It did take me a little while to accept myself for all that I am and all that I am not, but I am thankful to be mixed. I am thankful for all the simple minds that looked down on me, because they taught me a lot. I am thankful for my super curly hair, my big lips, and my wide hips. I am thankful to be something rare. I am thankful to be a diamond in a rhinestone world. It isn’t always an easy thing, but it is an amazing thing.
In the future let us all tread carefully and with open minds. Let us never forget that, like human beings, not all things are simply black or white. And to all the different people, those who aren’t slaves of ordinary, lest we never forget to be shining diamonds in this rhinestone world.