I am biracial. My mother is black, and my father is white.
All my life, I’ve been living with two racial and cultural backgrounds. And while this has definitely given me a unique perspective on race and culture, it’s also affected the way I see myself, in positive and negative ways. Let’s start with the negative.
While my mother has fairly dark skin, my skin tone is somewhere in the middle, closer to light than dark. What does this mean? Well for starters, many people have trouble knowing what ethnicity I am, and they aren’t very subtle about it. I’ve had people ask me, straight up “What are you?” only for them to quickly backpedal and “helpfully” explain that they were talking about my race. And what do I get when I tell people? “Oh… I thought you were, like, Mexican or something…” Naturally this is a good way to awkwardly end the conversation.
My skin tone also caused problems for my mother when I was a child. When showing baby pictures of me and my (dark skinned) cousins to her friends, one of them asked “Who slipped the white baby in there?” my mother had to explain to her friend that the “white” baby, was her child. This is a story that has gotten many laughs over the years. There was also the time wher my mother wwas accused of kidnapping my (equally light skinned) older brother.
As a child, I was frequently bullied for my “bushy” hair, which is naturally in tight curls that appear unruly when a comb is taken to them.
I frequently found myself in the paradoxical state between not black enough, and not white enough. I would listen to artists and groups like Fleetwood Mac and Nirvana, while simultaneously enjoying Destiny’s Child an Missy Elliot. Usually I would find myself mentioning the “wrong” music to the wrong groups, and either get blank stares or outright ridicule.
These are things that effect me even as a (sort of) adult. And I still get weird looks from people when I show them pictures of my parents. But, like I said there’s a lot of positive about being biracial too.
Growing up with two racial backgrounds, I know what it’s like in both cultures first hand, and that gives me a unique perspective on things. I also have a greater understanding of a lot of the racial tension people like my parents have to face, even in a state like California. Plus, I have the pleasure of knowing that the civil rights movement was largely successful, and that I am living proof of that.
America was started as a place where people of any religious background could be free, and soon that evolved, and it became a melting pot of culture and race. I know it sounds kind of cheesy but, to me, people who are biracial are a vision of what the true American ideal is. multiracial families are the future, more and more research is supporting that as a fact.
I am a product of true diversity, and I couldn’t be more proud of that, even if it comes a few (minor) annoyances.