My physical features tend to confuse a lot of people, and they’re not shy about it. I don’t have a trace of a distinct accent. I have dark brown skin, full lips, and really thick, curly hair that when straightened often compels people to ask the “Where are you from?” question that I like to diverge with, “New Jersey.” They look displeased. I entertain the mystery and say, “Jersey City.” The real question I know they’re trying to ask all along surfaces, “No, what ARE you?!?!” Here are questions White people have asked me leading up to, or after learning What I Am, Dominican.
“Do you get lighter in the sun?”
The answer is no. Just no.
“Did you scalp an Asian lady for your hair?”
This girl was implying my hair looked too straight after flat ironing it to be my own, and thought I was wearing a weave, wig, or extensions. When I said no, she then asked me if I chemically straightened my hair, which I hadn’t. Then she stroked my head, gave my hair a few tugs and told me about her Black friend’s hair.
“How could you possibly be sunburned?”
Sorry for the overkill, but people won’t stop trending the sun’s effect on my skin. While vacationing in Costa Rica, I didn’t wear sunscreen and the equator rays got the best of me. I returned to work with a peeling forehead and while complaining about the state of my flaky, diseased looking skin, a co-worker asked said question. She couldn’t fathom how Black people get darker in the sun.
“So then what color are your nipples?”
My college dorm room came with a fixture mounted on the wall that seemed to serve no purpose, except comedic relief because it naturally resembled a woman’s breast. One day I came home and found it painted in as a woman’s breast. A White woman’s breast. I jokingly put up a fight with my roommate for her color scheme of choice, since the breast was on my side of the room and mine are brown. Later during the year, a mini breast painted brown appeared on my desk, but something was off. The areolas were pink. She tried.