(she/her/they/theirs or anything with respect)
EMILY: My whole life... because of the identities that I carry and that I present...I have been told that I am pieces of a whole or that I need to choose between parts of myself.... you know, being... Growing up I believed--I was told that I was Black, Puerto Rican, Native American, English, Irish, and Swedish. That was sort of my whole thing. I always used to saw when I was young, “I’m Canish” because three ended with ‘Can and the other three ended with ‘Ish. So I was like, “I’m Canish.”...I was a dorky kid...
As I got older, I realized that the world was going to force me to decide or they were going to decide for me who I was. To those that wanted to feel safe around me I was mixed. For those that wanted to see me as one of their own I was whatever they identified with weather that be black or Puerto Rican.
It has taken me until my 30s to accept that I don’t have to choose. I can just be all of what I want to be, and that choosing one can completely erase the other in me, in my mind, but it’s never going to go away. I am completely who I am at all times. Accepting the dichotomy of a lot of my identities—especially in this world and this county—accepting that battle as just a beautiful part of who I am has been quite the journey. Now that I am able to see myself as a full person… If I see myself as a full person and not as parts, spilt into pieces, other people will be able to actually see me as a whole person. That’s what I have been working on.
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