In a perhaps not so odd twist of fate, I started to consciously physically emulate the type of person that I was assumed to be by some. I teased my abundantly curly hair into an enormous Afro and tamed it with Afro Sheen. It was so large that people would openly stare at me on the street, at school, at work. I wore cosmetics that were specifically designed for darker skinned women in dark browns and deep plums on my lips and cheeks.
And then I began to notice something very odd. Many times on the downtown streets of Hamilton, I would be greeted as "Lala". So convinced were the greeters that they would march right up to me and say, "What's up with you Lala? I was calling you!" This happened a number of times. Lala, it turned out, was a very light skinned black girl with an enormous Afro whom I had not met but had heard of. I never did meet the elusive Lala face to face but I think I had caught sight of her once.
My close friend Y and I were on a bus on King Street near James in the downtown core and she happened to look out the window and spotted a face in the crowd. Y turned to me and said, "She looks like you!" I turned towards the girl on the street. She did indeed look like me (with better skin and a prettier face). And I thought to myself, "So! That's her!" I had met my doppelganger.
When I heard tales of rumours that I had been here or there (and I knew that I had not indeed been here or there), I suspected that it was Lala.
Since that time, my racial identity has remained murky and when someone guesses now it is usually their own ethnicity as if they are seeking a kindred spirit: Venezuelan? West Indian? South American? Spanish?
Nope, try again. We'll get there eventually. It doesn't bother me now so much although I do often wonder: why do you need to know so badly?
v. 22, Nov. 2009