Mixed. Swirled. Biracial. Multi-ethnic. Multiracial. Part of me wants to say in a Magneto as portrayed by Sir Ian McKellan voice: “We are the future, Charles, not them.” He finishes that statement with: “They no longer matter.” Truth is, if you have a little black in the mixture you’re comprised of, you’re usually the one who doesn’t matter. Black lives don’t really matter if we can get gunned down and stepped on and stepped over without a blink of an eye or an indictment… But that’s not what this post will be about. There are smarter, better, more qualified and definitely more articulate people who can have that engaging conversation.
Instead, I find myself exploring what it means to be biracial or mixed. Most of my life, I felt like two people. If any of you have read The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (amazing!), you’ll know that Starr, the main character, switches back and forth in her speech and demeanor when she is home with her black family and or at her predominately white school. This struggle is what it feels like to be biracial. You’re a different person depending your surroundings. That is, until you decide to just be yourself. But that didn’t happen for me until I was in my late 20s.
My mom was white. My dad is black. I took a DNA test thing, and basically, I’m half white and half black as expected. My white family is from the UK (Ireland), my black family is from western Africa. I wanted to find this out because I have a daughter, a three year-old, who is almost white-passing in the winter, but brown enough with a bit of sun, that most people will notice that she’s mixed. And I’ll be honest, my reaction to this has been…confused. A lot.
I grew up with my white mom, and black dad. We didn’t see our white family often, and I felt really comfortable around my black family. I guess it matters that I’m not white passing, and in fact, most people have known right off that I’m black. But my hometown, growing up, wasn’t all that diverse. The older I got, the more black folk moved in, and that was nice. Yet, for the most part, I was on my own. I got called the n-word, I’d been made fun of, and I experienced some things that made me question who I am and why I am. By the age of 15, I was fat, black, and angry. And hurt. That was the first time (and last) I let that anger seep into depression enough to rattle my existence.
My daughter may or may not have those struggles. We’ve taught her early on that she is brown and she is white. I buy her brown dolls, and it’s not hard to make sure Doc McStuffins has equal air time as Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom. But we’ve had moments with her about it; German kids aren’t necessarily reprimanded on what they say at school and no teacher has ever told me anything alarming. My daughter has. She was pushed off a swing because no brown kids were allowed. She was told that brown kids are ugly. I don’t know how deep those things affect her, she tends to brush it off and move on, but it hurts me, and it inspires me to show her that there is nothing ugly about being brown or black or mixed. And that if the others feel the need to push her away for her skin color, they aren’t kids she should be hanging with anyway.
There is another black girl in her class, and that makes me happy; I want her to be exposed to diversity as much as possible. And her best friend is Turkish; they are inseparable too, which is adorable. The little boy down the street is Japanese and in her class, and there is no shortage of love there. All in all, Germany, you’ve given my daughter a more diverse experience than she was getting in Brooklyn, and I applaud this school, this area for that. Heck, I applaud the country. It seems small but it’s big.
I’m confused by having a daughter that isn’t as dark as me and now I think I know how my Mom felt growing up; like I don’t fit in the picture. I’ve had one lady at a playground tell me I’m a good stepmother to my daughter. When I told her that I am, in fact, the mother, the one that was pregnant with her and gave birth, her face dropped in disbelief. I walked away from that feeling raw. This has happened before. But it became real that time, if that makes sense.
Being biracial, mixed, (there are so many titles for which we are), anywhere can be confusing. And sometimes you have to make a choice. I identify as black because I never felt I had a choice, and now that I do, I’d still choose black. My daughter might choose white, and it’s my job not to be upset about that. I know I’m supposed to accept it and hope one day, she gets the big picture. But I don’t want her to choose at all, I want her to feel comfortable being both. Unlike me. I want this world to be more accepting of being both and not pigeon-holing someone just because it fits. We are the future, it’s about time people accepted that.
Weird post, but yeah, sometimes I’m weird. Until next time!