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Black or White: Get out of the crayola box

Updated on July 6, 2012

Family from C to B

Great Great Grandpa Charlie
Great Great Grandpa Charlie
Great Grandma Nancy, Tabby the cat and Andy Fandy
Great Grandma Nancy, Tabby the cat and Andy Fandy
Grandma Willievelyn and her kiddies
Grandma Willievelyn and her kiddies
Mommy and Jacey
Mommy and Jacey
Maria and I Zoo Atlanta
Maria and I Zoo Atlanta


My first in encounter with color diversity was when I was five years old. As a child nearly everyone in my family looked the same and I perceived the world to be this way. We celebrated our birthdays as a huge family events. I had one darker complexioned cousin, but that was explained through by my great grandmother without her knowing it. As children we wanted to drink coffee, that's pretty normal, however she told us no, because coffee made you turn black. "What?!" All of a sudden we all thought amongst ourselves is that why our cousin's skin is darker than ours, so we did what any normal child would do, we asked her if she drank coffee.

She told us yes, her daddy lets her drink some of his every morning. She had no idea what grandmother told the rest of us and we left that encounter in fear of coffee. It was not until I was 12 years old until I realized that it was not true, but from that moment for 8 years I thought coffee gave people color. When I entered kindergarten I encountered people of all colors, shapes, sizes, etc at school, this confused me, because I was very perceptive of people.

After my first day I went to my mom and I asked what I deemed a very important question. I said, "Mommy why do little white girls have long hair and little black girls have short hair?" Really don't remember why that was so important to me. My mom said, "Brittany you are a little black girl and you don't have short hair." I said, "Oh." and skipped off, guess that was good enough for me. Honestly, I don't think I identified with either group and throughout my matriculation I never really did. I had friends galore, but I never really felt that cultural kinship.

As I entered Elementary school I was labeled as mixed, I had no idea what that meant and I resented it. I used humor and muscle to remedy those who called me that name. It was not until I was an adult that I gained the full scope of my heritage. My mother is (deep breathe) Scottish, Irish, Italian, Greek, Cherokee, Lumbee, and African American. My father is African American and Puerto Rican.

I identify myself as multicultural. My mother grew up in a era where she was called half breed, mutt, etc. I was not called these names and somehow I thought because I had never been called a negro or nigger that racism had somehow escaped me. I honestly looked at people as either good or bad. Then, I attended an HBCU and color was all I heard. I gained an African American perspective that I did not grown up with.

I heard so many things and concepts I had not heard or understood previously. We did a family reunion, where my mother and I used oral history from my great-grandmother and began to search on the internet to provide the history for our family reunion. We uncovered a doosy. No wonder my family seemingly had no earthly idea of their heritage or identity from a historical standpoint.

From 1860 to present there was a secret that stifled any identity, there was a secret that led to the cultural confusion. My great-great-great grandmother was born out of wedlock in the 1860s (1865 to be exact) in order to maintain their comfortable yet simple Southern way of life, they decided to send her mother away, have the father sent away, and give Hettie to some slaves to raise. Hettie's mother was 14 or 15 around the time, from birth on she passed her self off as a mulatto (in fact she was Scottish and Irish), so her biological family temporarily relocated and in ten years time became Hettie's neighbors and were there for the birth of her first child, a boy, who is truly mulatto and says such on the census record.

It is not certain if she married for love or to conceal her true identity. What is known is after their third child they separated he went North and she remained in the South staying in contact with her adoptive and biological family. She had children that were multicultural (my great-great--great grandpa with whom she had three children with was Greek and Italian as well as a daughter part Jewish).

Through research I gained a better understanding of who I was and where I came from, boy did I have a tale to give during the history of our reunion. I interviewed one of my oldest relatives that was there when Hettie died and was living in the home with her as a great grandson and he recreated her last moments of life for me. It was such a gift. He confirmed that Hettie said she was Scottish and Irish and that she was truly a Cook and not a Kelley by birth.

Why didn't anyone in my family have any sense of heritage, because it was hidden for a number of reasons. I didn't know if they would thank me or be angry, truth being told I didn't care, because to me the knowledge, legacy, the journey, and discovery was worth it all. I had traveled literally on the same roads, walked the same halls, visited their final resting places, I felt very connected to who I was and I have never been the same since then. Family means so much more to me and race is so obsolete in the large scheme of things. Yes, my great grandmother told us a tall tale to keep us from drinking coffee, because it would make us hyper.

They also told us diggidy would get us if we played under the house or headed towards the woods. It was their way of maintaining our safety and health (no caffeine overdoses here). So, when it comes to people I look at people in terms of the crayola box and childhood. We discover many different colors, we find some we love and some we like, some we don't like. We use some more than others and fall in love with our favorite color. One thing we shouldn't do is totally get rid of any particular crayon, because some colors compliment others and some color's hide the beautiful things and awesome abilities, but you have to be willing to explore them to see. Let's explore the beauty of one another, before we close our crayon boxes.














































































































I see your true colors

New Age Spin on Time after Time

What do you think?

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    • brittvan22 profile image
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      brittvan22 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      @tre your family far extends your mother and father their is a such thing as ancestry go back 100 years then tell me about your heritage. Also the serial killer thing was joke no harm meant sometimes you have to unloosen your stance and let reason and truth in.

    • teresapelka profile image

      Teresa Pelka 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      @brittvan22,

      You say,

      'teresa, ok, so you have had some serial killers on your tree. Let me be the first to say, "Keep fighting, you don't have to be one too!"

      No idea why the conjecture there would have been any killers in my family - nothing to my knowledge.

      You also say,

      'Any how, sorry to be the one to inform you, but your history, ancestory, etc does define who you are and who you will become.'

      This also is not possibly information. I don't know about anyone in my family with a degree in linguistics and American English.

      My father wasn't a doctor - the use of 'you' corresponds with that of 'one' and 'someone'.

      Would you say that the crayola box you invoke has white for opposed to and contrasting with black?

    • brittvan22 profile image
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      brittvan22 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      @teresa, ok, so you have had some serial killers on your tree. Let me be the first to say, "Keep fighting, you don't have to be one too!" Any how, sorry to be the one to inform you, but your history, ancestory, etc does define who you are and who you will become. As for the comment about your father being a doctor, have to disagree with you. As I hope you know there has been studies and its been proven. You might not be a doctor, but you may find yourself in the medical field or in a profession, where you help others. Why do you think they ask for your family history when you go to the doctor, because there are certain things you maybe genetically pre-exposed to such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, mental illness, etc. Maybe you feel like you wan tto be an individual and thats ok, but do not down your history its is important when you are older you will appreciate it. Ands when you have children you will share their legacy.

    • teresapelka profile image

      Teresa Pelka 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      My ancestry would not tell me who I am. It's up to me to decide who I want to be.

      Your father's being a doctor does not make you a doctor, does it?

      It's not discouragement with my ancestors, though someone might say the family tree would look 'boring' in comparison - all the same nationality and white. ;)

      I have always wanted to decide on myself on my own.

    • brittvan22 profile image
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      brittvan22 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      @Audraleigh, thank you indeed for your kind words, I see we are akin in our thinking. I have found the very essence of the creation called Brittany is about strength, beauty, love, creativity, togetherness, and constant evolving and changing. I appreciate your words and look forward to reading your hubs!

    • profile image

      AudraLeigh 4 years ago

      I think there is a poet inside of you! I liked reading about your family :) I really like the ending of your piece...

      "..One thing we shouldn't do is totally get rid of any particular crayon, because some colors compliment others and some color's hide the beautiful things and awesome abilities, but you have to be willing to explore them to see. Let's explore the beauty of one another, before we close our crayon boxes."..profound!

    • brittvan22 profile image
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      brittvan22 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      aww thanks lastheart, look forward to reading your stuff.

    • Lastheart profile image

      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 4 years ago from Borik√©n the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      I loved the lesson you shared with the crayola box. Voted up and more and of course I will share this hub.

    • brittvan22 profile image
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      brittvan22 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      @Biz, aww thanks for your words of encouragement. I hope so! You guys are truly too kind. Thanks for your input and support.

    • BIZBSACRAMENTO profile image

      BIZBSACRAMENTO 4 years ago from Sacramento

      I agree with ellebyam that this hub could be a bestseller once you finish your book. Good luck and keep the roads open. Thank you for sharing. Godspeed on your journey to success!

    • brittvan22 profile image
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      brittvan22 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks Seajon, I couldn't agree with you more! God bless you 2! Can't wait to be some of your hubs!

    • seajon profile image

      Jon 4 years ago from London

      Nice story, in fact it is great and I love it! I really hate people judging through its color, did God created us equal? anyway, I hope more people will have the same perspective like you have , God bless Britt!

    • brittvan22 profile image
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      brittvan22 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      @ elle thanks, I think so too, I have started on the book, I'm almost complete with the research, which has led me down many dirt roads and many rural towns. I am bound and determined and I have one missing piece and as soon as the 2012 census records come for SC i will be 95 percent complete. Thanks for your kind words of encouragement. @ vox, thanks I appreciate your input as well. It truly is beyond me to judge anyone based on color you should check out my hub on Are we all African, since Africa is the mother of civilization,etc. You should find it interesting thanks for the support. Look forward to reading your works!

    • vox vocis profile image

      Jasmine 4 years ago

      Great story! I love it especially because it's true. I still can't understand why people would judge anybody based on the color of their skin or nationality. It's so idiotic, really.

    • ellebyam profile image

      ellebyam 4 years ago from North and South Poles

      This really is a very enlightening and endearing tale that I feel would be a sure blockbuster novel or movie if woven into such fashion. Thank you very much for sharing and I look forward to catching up on reading all your hubs. I am voting all the way up!!!

    • brittvan22 profile image
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      brittvan22 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks Gypsy, I totally agree with you. We are all so beautifully made and a wonder we are in the sight of God. Your heritage sounds pretty cool, haven't heard of your location, but will look it up soon. I really appreciate the support.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and awesome. You have amazing family. Truly inspirational. I believe we should be like we are in God's eyes colorless because we are basically all the same under our skin. I'm American by birth but Latvian by nationality. Love your choice of video. Passing this on.

    • brittvan22 profile image
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      brittvan22 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks Silvia, found another Irish beauty :), the research can be like pulling teeth if you don't know exact information, because boy could they keep a secret.

    • Silva Hayes profile image

      Silva Hayes 4 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      I like your story. I'm part Irish and I know what you mean about secrets. The Crayola box is a good one; I thought of the color wheel when I read your story. The color opposite is the complimentary color; I think that's so cool.

    • brittvan22 profile image
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      brittvan22 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks explorer, what a nice mix. You're welcome I totally agree, we are all beautifully and wonderfully made and all possess our own strength.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This is such a beautiful story, and i love the crayon connection. The world is full of different colors , and they are all special in their own right. I am of a mixture of Indian, German, Irish. My Father's Mother was an Indian. My Grandmother was Irish. My Grandfather was German. Thank's for sharing your story..Loved it..

    • brittvan22 profile image
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      brittvan22 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Cool, we truly are. I wish blessings to you and yours as well!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Iroquois - People of Six Nations tribe.

      We are proud souls, you and I.

      I send blessings to you and yours.

    • brittvan22 profile image
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      brittvan22 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      @shiningirisheyes, I haven't seen that movie sounds interesting I will check that out and that sounds alot like some of my family, bad secrets hurt in the end and. What type of American Indian are you? I am lumbee and cherokee.

    • profile image

      shiningirisheyes 4 years ago

      I had to comment as to the Irish and their secrets. I don't want to offend any of the Irish readers however, I come from a long long long line of Irish and they do keep everything behind closed doors. Several movies refer to this as well. The Boondock Saints: When the detective is told that no one knew anything about the crime, he responds by saying he was surprised anyone called the cops in the first place as is was an Irish neighborhood and they don't tell anything. The movie The Departed where Matt Damon is told he won't get anyone to talk, after all its an Irish neighborhood and they don't tell on each other. The famous Irish author Frank McCourt was, for a time not favored in Ireland because they felt he should not have told his families deep dark secrets.

      I lived with this my entire life and I find myself being the same way sometimes.

      Just thought I would add that.

    • brittvan22 profile image
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      brittvan22 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      @Likamarie, try some of the links I have on there, I traced my family back to the early 1700s. I will put some more links on here also whatever City or County they come from has an Archives Center and thats where I got a lot of information from some records are on microfilm. Also there are some websites and ancestry is really good. All the websites and links I posted are free with the except of ancestry which is 19.95 monthly also each town as records online dating back to the early 1900s. You can find census records that really tell the story. For my family, I was raised by my Mom and great grandmother who often shared our story. We simply found the government records to confirm the story. Good luck if you need any help I'm available its such an enriching journey.

    • profile image

      LikaMarie 4 years ago

      I think it's really neat to dive into your background. Many times, you learn something you never thought you'd find...

      As black Americans, often there are hidden knowledge, and I'm so glad that people like you want to uncover it, and share, rather than bury it deeper. It's information like this that makes this country richer in knowledge, understanding, and multi-culturalism. Please keep up the findings.

      I'm half Japanese myself, yet I look so Native American. I'm getting ready to try to find stuff out, but, I have no money, so, I'll have to just use the public free information available.

    • brittvan22 profile image
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      brittvan22 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks you sound like my type of girl. They said during our reunion process I was like a dog with a bone. I just had to know. And they were right, I was not going to give up until the pieces were all together. I found all 8 of her children and we had someone to represent 7 of the 8. Apparently her children that were half African American left when they got older and we lost contact with them, luckily we found 2/3. I wonder why Irish have these secrets. The lengths they got through surprises me, but they were such proud people.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Such a beautiful summation of a moving and stirring history of were you came from.

      I am Irish, French and American Indian. My Irish side held some secrets that I dug up, to their dismay! I loved every minute of it. They should know me by now. If you can't answer my question, I'll find the answer myself.

      I commend you and hope for a day when every individual across this great big globe looks at everyone as a very unique and necessary crayon in the box of life.

      I'll be the sharpener!!!

      Voting up across the board. You should be so proud of this fine masterpiece, as well as the history you uncovered. I was thankful I did as many of those individuals are no longer around for information.

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