Not Black Nor White

by Nila Venkat
Also Featured on KCBS


Growing up, the one thing I wanted to be was white. But if you’re a girl with black hair, brown skin, and a distinctly Indian name, that’s a difficult goal.

In second grade, I was mesmerized by the stereotypical California surfer girl look — you know, beach blonde hair, gold tan and blue eyes. I tried so hard to fit in.

I remember going to a sleepover. We highlighted our hair with different color chalks and gels. My friends were all blonde, so it worked for them. But no matter how many coats I put on, only the ugly neon yellow showed.

I got tired of chasing the “WHITE RABBIT.”

I’m not the only one who’s had this internal struggle. Many of my friends who are also first generation Americans understand what it’s like to have a foot in both worlds — jumping between a traditional Indian family and a predominantly white school. Many of us wanted to be white when we were young. That’s how beauty is presented to us. But as we get older, we gain more confidence and start figuring out what’s beautiful about us as we are. And I’m on my way.

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