Biracial in 2013: It Still Matters

*Warning: in a rare turn, this post includes swearing*

I think it was my junior year of high school. We had a sub that day and we were filling out some of that random paperwork that gets sucked into a machine with your vital statistics that never gets seen again. At the race part, I had drawn a line with an extra box and written in 'mixed race'.

The sub didn't like that.

She insisted I had to choose and we had a rather heated discussion in which I told her I would do no such thing. I could not, in fact, choose between the ethnicity of my parents and I didn't really care what she had to say about it. In the end, I gave her that piece of paper exactly the way that it had been doctored but I was really troubled by her response. Later, in conversation with my parents, I expressed my frustration, feeling as I would many times throughout my life, that was no place for me if I didn't make a choice that seemed pretty lame.

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Currently one of my photographs is on the cover of Blackberry: a magazine, one of my art pieces is inside and one of my photos plus two of my poems are in the previous issue. A friend of mine told she was disappointed with the magazine being aimed the way it was because it leaves people out due to race. While happy to listen to anyones feelings and acknowledge they have the right to have them, I respectfully disagree. Having gotten to know the publisher via social media, I know her aim is very pure. In fact, it's even on the about page:

BLACKBERRY: a magazine aims to be a premier literary magazine featuring black women writers and artists. Its goal is to expose readers to the diversity of the black woman’s experience and strengthen the black female voice in both the mainstream and independent markets.

This, right here? This is why I wanted to be a part of it. 'featuring black women writers and artists. Its goal is to expose readers to the diversity of the black woman’s experience and strengthen the black female voice' 

 Because I know I am so, so lucky that the people in my life see me as more than a race and that means I get the chance to really be myself. Others are not so lucky. I wasn't always. I spent most of my teens years being called stupid, racially driven nicknames like 'chocolate vanilla swirl', 'oreo', and 'token Black girl'. Because those people were so needing me to be put in a category that they could make sense of, an adult  who didn't know me tried to force me claim myself as Black, even while every kid I knew told me daily I wasn't Black enough to really even be Black.

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        I'm not adopted. These people are my parents. That is my real mom. Don't like it? Don't look.

 This might actually be the sweetest commercial I have ever seen in my life. It is representative not only of my own experience (!) but that of many others. (Read this fantastic opinion piece, I loved it. I went immediately to follow her on Twitter.) In 2011 it was reported that since 2000 the mixed-race population had grown 50%, or approx 4.2 million people. Yet they had to turn off the comments because so many people were saying insanely racist things. And then last year there was a huge mess over the Hunger Games (and by the way, if you read that & didn't know those characters were black? You. Are. A. Fucking. Idjit.)

I wish I could say I am shocked when people say racist things. I'm not. I hear it every day. Because way back when, when all the PC stuff started, I said this would happen. I said it would cause a problem. And partially it has. The real problem is just plain ignorance. The assumptions made about black people make my life hard even if I don't fit any part of the stereotypes; what people see is not that I am funny, charming, talented, kind, warm and loving. They see my skin color and that is enough for them to make a judgement call. Trust me when I say that is not something I say or take lightly.

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I get it. I want what you want. I would love for people to not walk up and ask me which of my parents is white. I wish no one ever said "You speak so well for a Black person", because then I wouldn't feel the need to look at strangers and say "Oh, for Fuck's sake!"

I would love if no one had ever pissed off my mom by asking if I was adopted. I would love if we could live a world where color lines don't exist. But we don't. I used to get all kinds of guff from my Black and Hispanic male friends and Black cousins for dating white guys. So I really do hear when you say it seems that we shouldn't be drawing our own lines of distinction in the sand. For me, it doesn't feel like drawing lines so much as coloring in between the ones that got drawn around me.


  1. Fabulous post, thank you for sharing your experience. As a Hispanic female I've had my fair share of unfortunate incidents and I have come across forms in which there is no box for me. I think the Cherrios commercial is wonderful and the negative response by some just brings more to light how much racism still exists. Some people needed to know that.

  2. So beautiful. Thank you for understanding the mission of the magazine and for standing up for me. I receive a fair amount of criticism for it. And as a mother of bi-racial children and a black person who has always lived in predominately white areas, I understand your experience. I have yet to watch the commercial but I will check it out.

  3. Alisha, I shouldn't be, but I am shocked that people miss the point of your mission, since it is such a good one! I thank you for undertaking it!

  4. Stephanie, it is appreciated that you always take the time to read and comment. You're so right, it is important for people to know that there is still this kind of racism in the world, or how else can we stand against it?