Author: Sharda Sekaran

An Outsider on the Inside (Sometimes)

My first swear word was “shit.” I used it in a very specific and, I might add, sophisticated way. I was three years old, sitting in the back seat of a car. My grandmother and another adult were in the front. They were talking about my mom, clearly assuming that a toddler wouldn’t understand. Much to their shock and amusement, I cut off their gossiping with: “Don’t be talking about my momma! Sheeee-it.” Yes, reportedly I delivered it with that precise, very adult, multi-syllabic and sassy intonation: “Sheeee-it.” It was my first time witnessing a conversation that upset my sense of loyalty. It wasn’t my last. As a Mash-Up, I often get an up-close view of bigotry, because people don’t know their bigotry applies to the person standing right next to them — me. People can be completely reprehensible in their attitude towards “others” when they think no one outside the fold is listening. I’m not alone. My mixed friends have heard their own family members say racially or ethnically derogatory things in front of …