The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Albino Girl

This originally appeared as a note on my Facebook page but I decided to re-post it on my blog because it really does capture a lot of my experiences as a person with albinism. I’m also posting this because some pigmentos in my life don’t get the whole “low vision” thing. 😉 When I say, “I can’t see” I am not lying to you. TRUST ME. Enjoy!

I LOVE the web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” because it’s incredibly witty and well…awkward! I am inspired to offer my own awkward moments being a Black woman with albinism. It can be both frustrating and comical at times. It’s all in your mindset—you can choose to take everything seriously or you can embrace it while finding the humor in it. In the meantime, enjoy the top 10 awkward moments of being a black woman with albinism from my point of view. They are scenarios that I find myself in quite often.

I hope my friends in the albinism community can relate. For the pigmentos, I hope you can be enlightened about my experience.

10. That awkward moment when I walk into something and try to play it off like I really didn’t just do that. It happens sometimes. *Kanye shrug*

9. That awkward moment when I’m standing at the corner and a car is trying to turn and I can’t see the person gesturing with their hands for me to walk across the street. So I just stand there for several moments wondering when to cross. Now we’re engaged in an awkward dance where I’ll move and then he/she will move and so on until he/she will either make the turn or I literally step out on faith to cross the street.

8. That awkward moment when I see somebody and they ask me why I’m “acting funny” because I didn’t wave back at them. Real talk: I can’t see when you wave at me.

7. That awkward moment when I am being mistaken for another person with albinism.  NOTE: We don’t all look alike. I am not your cousin’s sister baby’s mother.

6. That awkward moment of hearing a car honk and then walking toward the car and almost getting in and then realizing that I don’t know that person. Let me explain. When I was younger, my mother conditioned me to listen for her horn as a signal to let me know she was there (because I couldn’t see). I’ve carried that into my adult life and now I ask people to honk their horn when they pick me up. It gets tricky when I hear horns and think it’s my signal to go the car.

5. That awkward moment when I hold up something close to read it and people ask me why I am holding it so close. They assume just because I wear glasses that my vision is 20/20. If they only had a clue about how low vision works.

4. That awkward moment when somebody asks if I are you biracial. No, unless you count being BLACK and BLACK as biracial. Besides, we’re all “mixed” with something or the other but I consider myself to be Black/African American.

3.  That awkward moment when some random dude tells me that his friend’s girlfriend is an albino. *blank stare* OK, and…what is the point of you telling me that dude? Do you think you and your friend are going to have “matching girlfriends”? Have a seat sir!

2. That awkward moment when I’m talking to somebody and they ask “are you looking at me” or better yet when you say something and a person looks back because they think I not talking to them. Yes, my eyes dance around and no I can’t control it. Now that we got that out of the way—if my comments are directed toward you then I’m talking to you. I’m just saying.

1. That awkward moment when somebody asks me to look at something and I can’t see it but I act like I can just to make it less awkward. I do it ALL the time. The lesson here is to not ask a person with albinism if we see something because unless we’re very close to it—then we’re not able to see it.

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Trouble Don’t Last Always…

“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much”~ Mother Teresa

Since it’s already established that I’m a church girl (see my previous post) I’ll share one of my favorite gospel songs. It’s called “Trouble Don’t Last Always.” This song has a great message. The chorus of the song simply says: I’m so glad / trouble don’t last always.

And it don’t (or it doesn’t if you want to be grammatically correct!)

I’ve learned that life is about seasons. We experience the transition of seasons in many areas of our lives.  We’re either entering into a storm, in the midst of a storm, or coming out of a storm. It is possible to be in one season in one area of life and be in another season in a different area simultaneously.

I’ve had plenty of stormy seasons in my young 29 years. I’m thankful that I’m a resilient person. I have been able to get through so many painful circumstances with my spirit in tact and my light still shining bright. However, I can’t take credit for that because I know God has kept me though it all. I’m human and for the sake of keeping it real — there are times when I’m going through something and I have my moments where I break down and cry. That’s certainly okay, but I wipe my tears and face (no pun intended!) the world again.

Life is not easy or fair at times. However, I think there is a productive way to handle difficult circumstances. I believe part of that is “letting go and letting God” because most times we can’t control the circumstances in our life anyway, but he definitely gives us grace to withstand them. The other part is being determined to get through it and know that trouble don’t last always.

Today, I Turned 29 and Started a Blog!

Honor what you’ve accomplished, rather than thinking of what’s left to be done. ~John Bingham, author

A few weeks ago, I had the idea to start a blog. I wanted it to be meaningful to my life. I decided that I’ll explore the many lessons that I’ve learned as a twenty something (this is the last year I can truthfully say that!) and chronicle my final year in this decade.

Here’s a little sneak peek of future topics that I plan to explore:

  • Hair Politics: What does it really mean when people say my hair is “elegant?” Of course, this only applies when it’s not in its natural state.  *side eye*
  • Prayer/Spirituality: I spent the night over my friend’s house. The next morning I took a shower and I typically use this time to pray. Apparently, I was keeping it a little too real with God because I ended the prayer with a “holla” instead of an “amen.” When I came out of the bathroom, my friend asked me if I was talking on the phone. I replied, “No, I was talking to God.”  She gave me the side eye!

Before we begin this journey together, I’d like to take a moment to share a few of my poignant moments in my 20s.

Defining Moments of My Twenties

1.    Moving to D.C.  This was my moment of reinvention. I jettisoned the negative experiences and destructive feelings that I internalized over the years. At the same time, I was also fulfilling a dream to move to the nation’s capital and start my career. When I first arrived to the city, things were not easy. I struggled to find a full-time job but I went into survival mode, doing whatever it took to take care of myself. Thankfully, I had a great network of friends from college who helped me make the transition. In addition to becoming settled in the city, there was a shift in how I perceived myself. I became more comfortable in my skin, with my albinism, with my natural hair and in my personhood in general. This process didn’t happen overnight — there were many midnight crying sessions and letting go of others’ expectations of me. Moving to D.C. is probably the best decision I’ve made for my life.Being in this city has stretched me (and continues to do so) in so many ways and I’m thankful for every experience.

2.    Finding God for myself. It’s no secret that I’m a church girl. I grew up going to church like it was my job. I mean literally a job because church lasted from 9 a.m.- 3p.m.  (this included Sunday school and the morning service) and let’s not forget the evening service for special programs. I also regularly attended bible study on Wednesday, Friday prayer sessions, and the occasional deliverance service with my mother. Needless to say, church and spirituality were heavily embedded in my upbringing. I became well versed in the rhetoric and traditions of the Black church. However, I always felt a little out of place though because I’m not a “hooping and hollering” type of Christian but I enjoyed being a spectator during service. That was the problem – I felt like a spectator – I was going through the motions and I wasn’t sure how to connect with God for myself. I eventually outgrew the traditions of the Black church. I realized that I couldn’t continue to ride the coattails of my parents’ Christian experience because we’re obviously different people and what was working for them was not working for me. I embarked on a journey of finding God for myself. Through this journey, I’ve learned so much about God’s character and myself.  Overall, I’m thankful for the spiritual foundation that my parents instilled in me but I realized that I needed to foster my own relationship with God.

 3.    Accepting my albinism. For as long I can remember, others have always given their opinion about my identity. Mix that with being misdiagnosed at birth as having “partial albinism” (whatever that is!) and that became a recipe for major identity issues. I was searching for answers and nobody could give them to me.  I just wanted to know why I was “different” than my family and why I didn’t seem to fit in anywhere. The façade I kept up for so many years was becoming harder to mask the pain and confusion I felt surrounding my identity.  Things changed as I became more involved with the National Organization of Albinism & Hypopigmentation (NOAH).  I met other people with albinism who understood my perspective.It was a relief for me to finally realize that I actually do have albinism because for so many years my mother told me I was just “light-skinned” but that never satisfied me. I was so happy to know that I have albinism and fully accepted it. Through my involvement with NOAH, I finally found what I’ve been looking for all these years: acceptance and a sense of community.

 There are obviously so many moments that I could have included but I’m just going to stop right here and you’ll need to keep coming back to gain further insight into my world. J It’s truly been a journey navigating through life but I wouldn’t change one thing because it all made me who I am. The good. The bad. The ugly.

 Buckle up and enjoy the ride!