Op-Ed: How I learned to embrace my Black and Jewish heritage
While working as a professional singer-songwriter, I received the news that I had been nominated for a place in the International Songwriting Competition held in London.
In the weeks that followed, I learned why my nomination had come about — my work had been selected as one of the four songs submitted by my compatriots living in London.
The next step was to find somewhere to stay for three weeks, and luckily I was able to rent a room at a small hostel in the heart of London.
Before I arrived, I made two crucial decisions. First, I decided that I would be leaving my passport at home, as I had never travelled outside the United States before. Once I arrived, I was determined to not have a single piece of my identity stolen when it came to getting a visa.
I also wanted to be able to pack everything I needed before I went: a laptop, phone, charger, makeup, clothes, shoes and a few other things that would help me stay relatively healthy and sane in my quest to become a successful writer.
For the next three weeks, I focused on finding the best way for me to get my work written and published. By using my travel to explore London, meet my fellow songwriters, enjoy new experiences and make friends, I learned how to deal with my identity as a mixed-race woman, and how an identity as a woman of the Jewish faith can have a positive impact on my own life and that of others.
In many ways, I have grown to accept and embrace the multiple facets of being me and who I am.
I have made peace with my Black identity. I can say with all honesty that there are many things about me that I have learned and become somewhat familiar with and comfortable with. So many times I have been questioned by other people, and myself, about my race and sexuality, and I have found that the majority of the questions have been a result of ignorance, prejudice and misunderstanding.
One of the things that I know for certain — and I believe that everyone who comes into contact with me knows this for certain — is that I am not alone, and I am not the only person who has struggled in this way.