Sometimes I wonder if it would be different if I wasn’t Bridget. If they didn’t know me, but they knew my skin and the stereotypes behind it. If they didn’t know where I came from and the values that I grew up with. If they didn’t know my parents — one being black, the other being white — and how their strong love for each other brought them together, even when they were both married when they met. How they worked hard and built a family with an infectious love for each other that made growing up with them like a scene out of a corny family sitcom. How following my dreams and being myself was always applauded in my household. How I’m a loyal friend, a goofy partner in crime and a strong shoulder that is always there to soak up the tears. How I’ve excelled in sports, played basketball in college and went on to get my master's degree, all in five years.

But, is it required to know my qualifications, where I’ve come from and what I’m about, to be accepted by my white counterparts?

During the 2016 presidential election, and after President Trump was voted into office, a lot of concepts involving my race and how people in my life identify me have been brought into the bright and shining light. I’m not all the way sure if this is true, and this is not a story of facts, but one on how I’m feeling based on how the current political climate has revealed thoughts I’ve never had before about how family and friends may categorize me.

My family is both black and white. Although qualities from both sides of the family have helped me become the person I am today, my views on what I am to them has changed. It feels like I am Bridget to them. I’m the funny, loud and rambunctious cousin, granddaughter or niece that has always been a lot of fun in the family. The one that has been there growing up, taking care of the little cousins, there to help cook on the holidays and there making plenty of smart ass jokes around the holiday dinner table. But what if I wasn’t Bridget to them? What if I was the same person with the same background, but they didn’t know who I was? What if they only saw my skin? Would they think the same of me, or would I be something else to them? Would the stereotypes around the color of my skin define my background? Would assumptions of what I might say or the kind of person I’m labeled to be define who I was to them? Would what they’ve seen and heard from others be who I was to them?

While staying at an aunt’s house this summer, I found a Trump sticker in her office. While rummaging around photos in my grandma’s office, I found a photo of a family member smiling in front of a confederate flag. In no way do I think this defines them as the people they are today because they grew up in a sheltered community during a different time, and mostly, I think they had a lot of growing up to do. They are more enlightened today not only because they are older, but because they’ve had life experiences that have taught them better, and also because my mom married a black man into the family. An amazing, kindhearted and genuine black man that has loved their daughter or sister more than any other man my mom has ever introduced them to. A man that probably turned their perspective on black people, and the stereotypes they may have believed as true, on its head.

But, after seeing those photos and seeing who they voted for this election, it made me feel like they didn't take into consideration that other shade that has been introduced to the family. But I know they didn't see it that way. That’s not what their intentions were when they walked into that voting booth, but that is how it feels.

The man who is our president today has no care in the world for any color except white, and with the high racial tensions that he has enhanced, it makes me wonder, how did you think voting for him wasn’t voting against Bridget, and Newell (my dad) and Newell Jr. (my brother)? This is a man who is not in support of minorities of any kind, and has time and time again shown himself to be a supporter and trailblazer for white America.

I wonder if this is just a case of not making connections and not understanding the full statement that is being made when you vote for a candidate with specific prejudicial ideologies. Which I think it is.

I think much of the time the white friends and family that I have — and that I love to death — don’t see me as a person of color, but as Bridget. They disassociate the color from the person, but I am not grey. Some have to learn from one person to open their eyes to some of the stereotypes that have been set in their minds from the beginning of their life, to understand they are wrong. But, I don’t want you to think of me separate from my race to accept me, and I shouldn’t have to be Bridget for you to see me as nothing less than a person. I should be able to be a biracial woman that is not a stereotype, just like many others are not an embodiment of the slander against black skin. Separating my personality from my shade is keeping us in the same place, repeating history. Just some thoughts.