Dear Mount Olive — Letter 28
As someone of mixed race, I’ve had a strange relationship dealing with race. People always have trouble deciphering what ethnicity I am, and they want me to know. I’d get the typical “Where are you from?” I’d also get the more blunt “What are you?” Growing up, it was difficult for me to find social groups where I felt I really belonged. When I was with my white friends, I felt I looked just different enough to stick out in group pictures, which was not great as a shy kid. Conversely, since I couldn’t speak fluent Spanish and had a white name, I felt I wasn’t Hispanic “enough” to fit in with the Latinos. My hair didn’t have the 360 waves of one of my black friends; as he described it, my hair was “270 waves” at best. It all just piled together into the general impression that I was an outlier and many people, close friends included, felt I was not really one of them.
It took a while, but after moving out of MO, going to college, meeting new people, and getting older, I have come to fully appreciate my multi-cultural heritage and the uniqueness I now view in a positive light. I want that appreciation reflected in my hometown by seeing the community stand and fight for the safety and well-being of the people of many different cultures who call Mount Olive home.
Mount Olive in Color is a passionate coalition dedicated to creating a safe and inclusive community in Mount Olive, NJ where all members can feel valued and respected. Our mission is to amplify the voices of BIPOC community members and push change that is centered around awareness, conversation, and accountability.