Growing up it was obvious that I was different from most others around me. I spent the first three years of my life living in Boston, MA. The street I lived on wasn’t conducive to families with small children. There were no parks in the immediate vicinity for children to play and there were no front or back yards. The children had only their homes or the sidewalks. When my mother married my step-father things changed and we moved to Brookline, MA. Things were different there. There were parks everywhere and everyone seemed to have kids. Some houses had both a front and a back yard, while others had one or the other. When we moved to the Brookline Village area of Brookline in 1966, our neighborhood was predominantly filled with Irish Catholic and/or episcopalian families. In our immediate vicinity, there were a few Jewish families and a couple of asian families. Then we came along. My mother is Native American and my step-father is polish, but my birth father was both Native American and African-American along with some other mix. So we were the mutts of our neighborhood. I don’t recall seeing any other family like ours for several years, but that didn’t really stop anyone from befriending us. I was confused about was how to refer to myself. When I was old enough to ask, I would ask my mother about our Native American Heritage, but she never offered much of an explanation or details of our other family members or what being Native American meant to her or anyone else in her family. It ended up being something that we just didn’t talk about. We never really talked about being any one race. It was sort of ignored and we sort of acted as if we were just like anyone else.
I thank my dad (my step-father). He is a Harvard graduate. He along with my mother made sure we did more than well in school. Education was important. I was just frustrated that I had no education on who I really was and where I really came from. During my younger years, it wasn’t the one thing to be proud of being different. In fact, it was actually frowned upon to point out your differences. If you weren’t white, you were just classified as being African-American and nothing else. The funny thing is, now when I think about defining who and what I am and where I came from, I still draw a blank. Through History, I have come to learn about all that each race has endured and overcome. I choose to hold onto all that I know myself to be and try to be proud of it all. But I find myself being most interested in the Native American part of me, and I think that is because I live in Brookline, MA a place I know that many Native Americans first lived. Like in most other places they lived the land that they knew as their own was taken away from them and they became enslaved upon that land or died on it trying to protect it. Only the white man was allowed to freely live on the land here and anyone else was considered a slave. The sad thing is, this was not taught to us during any of my school years. I found this information in a town book I came across belonging to my husband that his father had given to him when he was first a town meeting member decades ago. Reading the pages made me cry. In fact, I found myself nauseated by each page I read. It suddenly feels strange to live in a place where you grew up having one vision of your life, but now knowing the real history behind it changes the view I have now. I think it’s important for people to know as much as they can about where they come from and where they live to better understand who and what you are.
No matter what, each person should try to find a way to find comfort and peace with who they are and what part or parts of you, you feel most comfortable with. Otherwise, it will be hard to find true happiness in your life.