By Elise Reaves
Havan is a young biracial girl navigating race. She speaks in long poetic monologues as she reflects on her inner world. On stage, she is surrounded by white sock puppets that represent White people and structures in her life. They speak quickly and calculated.
I was born in the South but that day happened to be a blizzard. Big white clouds of snow flurried outside of the hospital windows while my mother toyed with death trying to push me out. I came out a long, skinny, wet, noodle and skidded across ice into a cold white world. The South I knew was Black. My Father’s family made up of gospel singin’, grit eatin’, joyful, Black, southern folk and even when I stopped believing in God I still managed to go to church. The idea was to give me the best life possible.
The Black South was reserved for summers, when giant june bugs terrorized me and my cousins by the lake. When we swam the water turned milky from the products we used to tame our hair. We dried off and became giant balls of frizz as the sun pulled out the color in our skin. My poor Aunt would sit around for hours brushing and braiding our hair into neat cornrows, and when summer ended I was returned back to my Mom’s family.
I have always been an asteroid. My center of gravity resided outside of myself. Wanting someone to tell me who I am or what I am. Waiting for a larger celestial body to pull me in. I grew up perfect; or I grew up expected to be so. I was pretty, because they said so. I was obientient and independent, because they said I should be.
In North Carolina, my cousins and I would all wash our hair in the sink and argue over who gets to wear what dress to church. We’d help out the ladies in the kitchen and steal fresh biscuits right off the tray until they caught on to us and kicked us out. We’d spend two fidgety hours in service, stifling our laughter as we watched my Grandmother teary eyed in the aisle with both hands to heaven singing the songs as loudly as she could. We danced but in the comfort of my Aunt’s home office, searching for the latest raunchy music videos to dance along to not knowing a thing about the words we sang. It didn’t matter, we were just kids dancing. Turns out High School dances are nothing like that.
We drank gin with coke to cover up the taste and shared makeup. I pretend a lot, maybe all the time, but in that moment I actually had fun. The little asteroid in me found a great big star with enough gravity to keep me spinning and a whole solar system to be a part of.
Elise Reaves is a NYC based actor/playwright currently attending The New School for Drama. She is Black and White and proudly southern. She would like to thank all the wonderful humans at MixedMag for creating a space for voices that don’t fit into boxes and find home in the gray areas.