Sena Birdie Identity

Words: 1089
Pages: 5

6. By referring to Birdie’s body as a tabula rasa, or blank slate, Senna is refusing to categorize her identity by her skin color. Both Birdie and her sister are multiracial, but are both individuals that are not limited to that defining feature. Birdie has to discover that visible racial identity is not the only one someone can identify with for herself throughout the novel as she finds herself. She explains her mindset in the forward of the novel, stating “my body would fill in the blanks, tell me who I should become, and I would let it speak for me” (Senna 1). The first description that Birdie gives is not actually of herself. She begins the novel as a nameless, description less, girl. She describes herself as “a nobody, just a body” (Senna …show more content…
She comments that before Nkrumah she and Cole used to play dress up and play pretend, “but only at Nkrumah did it become more than a game. There I learned how to do it for real- how to become someone else, how to erase the person I was before” (Senna 62). Always a duo, Birdie and Cole begin to separate at this time when Cole finally finds her fit and Birdie is labelled the outcast. In an effort to keep from losing her sister, Birdie changes herself so that she is more like the girls at the school. She started wearing her hair in tight braids, wearing gold hoop earrings, and bought a whole new wardrobe. She even practices talking different so that it appears to be natural like her classmates. This façade however doesn’t satisfy her for long. Carmen comes into her life and again makes her feel like the outcast by favoring Cole because of her darker complexion. She doesn’t really want this persona, or these friends, and when Cole finds companionship with Carmen, she realizes that she doesn’t have anyone to relate to. Her opinion of her behavior can be seen with the subtle comparison to her food as a form of self-reflection: “As, she spoke, I saw the new life in my sister’s face, as if she had found some reflection of herself in this tall, cool woman. I felt heavy with grief as I played with the greasy food in front of me, cutting it up into tiny pieces, then mashing the eggs, grits, and sausage together into a revolting, inedible stew” (Senna