You see me one way, but I am so much more…
I’m a mismatched hodgepodge of so many things. I was born in one of the largest metropolises on the planet, New York City. Drill that further down, and I grew up in Queens, which is literally the most diverse county in the entire world. My accent is a difficult-to-place mix of NuYorican and prep school speak — you’ll only be able to identify where I’m from because, like New Yorkers are known for, I’m known to drop an “r “or two from my words. I love sneakers and Disney princesses.
The one word I would not readily use to describe myself is a woman of color. If you’ve followed my career in any capacity, that’s probably surprising to you. I am, however, a Black woman. I’m a Latina. I’m Afro-Latinx. I am mixed-race. Although I’m usually painted with a broad brush, as many of us are, my actual, multi-layered, nuanced identity gets lost in the sauce. No, I myself, am not diverse. Communities are diverse. I’m a singular, with some diverse perspectives.
Yes, when it comes to fighting social injustice, I put my head and heart behind all of the causes that uplift people of color. Just as every person that’s relegated a person of color is as well. United we stand, yes. But we should be able to navigate as singular, gorgeous cultures in all of our glory, the needs of each being met. Will that happen with a blanket statement? I’m not quite sure.
What I have been, and I hope to not be anymore in my life, is the sole woman of color. The only one. It is a lonely existence. It’s one that puts the burden on my shoulders to represent every single woman of color, because I am in the room and they are not. With power comes great responsibility, yes, but it’s not on me to carry multiple races and identities on my back, to be expected to be the expert on all things I simply can’t all be at once. And this burden does not come from the people who look like me. It comes from those who feel they have given me an all-access pass. The diversity hire. Early on in my career, being the diversity hire led someone to ask me if a celebrity was throwing up gang signs in a photo. Let’s get one thing straight. Feeling like the diversity hire sucks. Please don’t let anyone feel that way.
So for those who only see me as a woman of color, I’d like you to meet the me that has nothing to do with my skin color:
Hi. Jada here. Like Olaf, I do love warm hugs. I’ve been called “one of the sweetest girls you’ll ever meet.” I do think that’s true. I’d always rather a Pepsi than a glass of wine, a night in Old Navy cozy socks than in heels on the town. I’m usually always reading a book, and I have some great suggestions if you ask me. My Spanish is kind of funky, but it’s a work in progress. I believe that my mom is a superhero because she is kind.
I would like for you to get to know me. For me. Behind the brown skin and the multi-hyphenate names and all of the causes that I support because the world is… well, kind of racist, dude. But I know we can get better … if you see me. One day.