What's good everybody!? Just drafted my common app essay. I'd greatly appreciate any suggestions, critiques, help, etc. Thanks!
I cannot remember the last day that went by when I did not have a conversation with my parents concerning my hair. My hair has long been a popular and divisive topic of discussion in my household. Its texture is curly, wavy, nappy, essentially everything but straight and, therefore, all the more difficult to manage. To the dismay of my mother and father, I have almost strictly sported an Afro since I began high school. For four years, people have associated me with the Afro hairstyle. I have an Afro in the yearbooks. I have an Afro in my driver's license. It's nearly impossible to find a photo of me without an Afro on my Facebook page. In a superficial light, I'm known as "the kid with the fro." However, I view my Afro as beyond just a hairstyle; I see it as an embodiment of my embrace of my multiracial identity.
For the most part, I was raised in a predominantly white suburb of Nashville, Tennessee. The homes are large, the school system is adequate and everyone drives an SUV. When I started elementary school, there were just enough black kids to fill each of the five classrooms per grade. Having a black mother, I was told to identify myself as black despite being surprisingly fair-skinned, especially compared to my older brothers. So, each year I was the only black kid in my class, although my skin was almost the same shade as all the other students, most of whom fervently denied my claim of being black. Growing up, I often received comments such as, "You're not really black," or "I think of you as white," or my personal favorite, "Julian, I'm blacker than you!" According to my friends, I talked white, I acted white and I looked white; therefore, I was white. This was awfully confusing. To my peers, I was white, but to my family, I was most definitely black. After all, I attended a reunion every summer for my mother's side of the family where there were hundreds of black people all related to me. It seemed as if my identity was split; I was leading two racially disparate lives. For the first twelve years of my life, I fragmented my identity and failed to fully assume my multiracial self.
Something changed as I transitioned into adolescence. Thanks to puberty, my preferences evolved as I went on to pursue music and filmmaking and to try to be intellectual. Furthermore, I grew to be independent and rebellious. I demanded to be taken seriously and I wanted to be truly recognized for who I was in all facets of my life, but I was still being told by my friends that I talked white, acted white and looked white. It was at this time that I had a realization: there was one thing that could physically distinguish me from my white counterparts. As a child, I wore my hair buzzed. My brothers and I played baseball and short hair was required. Also, it was convenient for my parents to grab the clippers and shave the heads of their four sons every few months rather than worry about maintaining anything fancy. I let my hair grow out for the first time when I was thirteen. In eighth grade, I rocked a mini Afro. Subsequently, I went through the first two years of high school without so much as trimming my hair. It was liberating.
With my Afro, my presence is entirely unique: a few inches over six feet, lanky, thin and bushy hair representative of my biracialism, but my Afro transcends physical appearance. It enables me to completely recognize and appreciate my identity. I no longer have to straddle the divide between being black or being white. Although my parents have begged me get it cut, I am comfortable with who I am because of my hair.