There is a lot of pressure on people of color, and minorities in general, to constantly be maintaining a certain image. Either to erase ourselves to be respected as people, or to be who we are and find ourselves being pushed aside. We must stand straight, speak beautifully, dress well, and be perfectly personable. All to ensure our survival. Of course, none of these standards were put in place by the various minorities to which they apply.
Some groups may have different or additional standards which they must meet in order to survive. Things like having "professional" hair, decent English, or even just a straight wrist. It's astounding that there are children that grow up having to be told to follow these rules. Not to build them up into better people, but to ensure that they are able to really become people.
And then there are those of us that have made it through the societal screening process. Those who looked just right and passed, though at a cost. We grow up almost as outsiders- never really belonging anywhere, but in our own space. And even that can be shaky. We find ourselves facing some of those standards as well as the pressure to prove that we are who we say we are. That we do count. That we are enough.
There have been quite a few challenges that have come with me accepting my mixed race background. I find myself wondering if how many times I may have just been a diversity hire. Such is the case for those of us who "check all the diversity boxes"- it's a near constant worry. This is especially true since I pass as the average white, cisgender, heterosexual person. It's hopefully not a shock to learn that I am the exact opposite. I worry about a lot when it comes to my identity and how I am perceived. I worry about being "found out" by those with less than progressive mindsets. I worry about being rejected by my own people. I worry about being seen as nothing more than a rosetta stone for those I know in the majority. Of course, only a couple of these have actually happened over the past couple years. Yet I can't help but to worry.
If there is one thing I've learned over the course of my self-discovery, it's this. To be a minority in America is an anxious life, overtaken by the need to survive. But I would rather be anxious than a prisoner to the overwhelming odds and standards stacked against me.