If you read my first Mixed Remixed piece Coming Out and Coming Into My Own, you know that for 48 of my 49 years, despite being mixed race, I self-identified as Black. Indeed this meant I was used to receiving anything from a raised eyebrow and the head-cocked-to-one-side look to people asking if I was aware that I didn’t look Black and worse … being told, “You ain’t really Black!”
Prior to coming out, I was ready to defend my Blackness and in fact, I still am. The only difference is that now I see being Japanese and White as equally crucial to my self-identity.
As with any pronouncement, I see life differently from the way I did before. Things aren’t as black and white as they once were—pun intended.
Right after I came out, doors opened for me. And I don’t mean the kind of doors those with privilege are accustomed to experiencing.
No, this was the door to the multiracial community.
All at once I was not only welcomed with open arms, but the uphill battle of explaining for the 55th time that day why I self-identified the way I did came to a screeching halt.
Now invited into a club that was happy to extend membership without requiring ID, I learned there were a whole new set of issues: The joys and pains of self-identification—generally not from within the mixed race club—but from the outside.
I decided to ask members of a woman-only online multiracial club I belong to for their assistance in compiling this list. In a future piece, I will poll men to see if our responses are similar.
Here are some of the responses I got:
- Assumptions about what being mixed race looks like. There really is no mixed phenotype. Some people have a more obvious look than others, but our appearance is not universal.
- Assumptions about presumed privilege (this is obviously more likely to happen when White is one of the races we’re mixed with).
- Assumptions that our mixture separates us from those who are monoracial, in that we do not struggle or experience prejudice.
- Reverse colorism, which does exist: darker people denying us opportunity, membership or acceptance because of our “look.”
- Mixed hair isn’t as easy as monoracial people might be inclined to believe.
- Having family members tell you who you should and shouldn’t date. According to my grandma, I should find a guy with blond hair and blue eyes, but of course I guess that doesn’t just apply to us.
- When people ask which one of my parents is White and which one is Black. The look they have in their eyes feels creepy, like they are trying to picture them having sex or something.
- I don’t like the fact that people automatically assume that I’m stuck up. I also don’t like that people used to give me a hard time about hanging around mostly White people.
- Monoracial and multiracial people do this: insist on trying to define and identity police me based on their own limitations and presumptions of superiority.
- I really dislike how sometimes my likes and dislikes are scrutinized. If I say I like a certain actor and he’s White then somehow that translates as me not liking Black men. It’s the same with my taste in music. If I say I love ABBA then of course it means I don’t listen to R&B and can’t appreciate Black music. I can’t just be someone who has very eclectic tastes. And of course this leads to a lot of assumptions about me as a person.
And the Joys:
- I love being unique. I like the fact that people rarely tell what exactly my background is. It makes me feel different and I like to hear what people assume I am.
- I love my hair because it’s like having the best of both / all worlds.
- Being able to flow easily in various circles and make others feel pretty comfortable.
- I don’t have to choose sides in every discussion; I can float between the two (or more) worlds.
- I get to “blame” my eclectic tastes on being mixed.
- I feel like I have a very realistic view about everyone that isn’t based upon a myopic view of the world.
- I love the fact that no matter what my mixture is or what other people’s mixtures are, I am just automatically accepted by mixed people.
- I think it’s cool that now that being mixed race is no longer seen as bizarre or gross, we’re being talked about more. Yes, we’re trending and we’re here to stay!
- When I was younger I felt isolated because I wasn’t one or the other. It taught me to be very self reliant in a way I don’t see many of my own peers being.
Thank you to Shannon, Holly, Michelle, Antoinette, TaRessa and LaDonna for helping me compile this list.
Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/users/Engel62-22128/