If I had to think of one major thing in my life that has really shaped me into the person that I am, I’d have to say it’s being biracial. While to many that may be confusing, how something like being mixed of two races can deeply impact your growth process, but to me it’s very real. In my psychology of women course that I was lucky enough to take this past semester, it showed that bi-racial women, especially those half black and half white, are more susceptible to suffering adjustment disorders and anxiety disorders. We struggle trying to feel accepted. The problem is that in our society there are ways of being that represent “acting black” or “acting white”. People need to stop associating carrying yourself and speaking like you have an education, for acting “white”. Maybe back in the day when there was a serious racial divide that kept black people uneducated, then that could have made sense. However now we are in a day when our last president was black and I’m able to study at a university, so no longer should being educated be associated with the color of our skin. Beyoncé and Alicia Keys for instance, these women are educated but I wouldn’t say that they “act white” at all. They wear their skin proudly and embrace their cultures.
My biggest struggle to find my identity was at the normal age of everyone else I’d assume, ending middle school and entering high school. I have to say Earl Sweatshirt put it perfectly, I was “too black for the white kids and too white for the black”. Trying to find what group of friends I felt most comfortable with was extremely challenging. For one, I was on the cheerleading team while also dating the black running back of the football team. All of the girls on my squad were white, yet all of my high school boyfriend’s friends were black. I genuinely remember struggling trying to think of what was okay behavior for each group, literally changing the way I spoke at times.
I’ll never forget going to one of my white friends parties when I was in the 8th grade. We were all outside in the pool and on the trampoline while my friends’ brother was DJ’ing his laptop hooked up to the backyard speakers. I went up and suggested a song towards the end, I’ll never forget it because I specifically remember not having the balls to request a song until people had started heading home. It was Jill Scott, an amazing local artist from Philadelphia that my dad had showed me, and I was so excited for people to be like “Wow! Who’s this? She’s great!” but instead people were actually asking to skip the song and go to the next, actually booing. They acted like I was playing Opera! But as I look back on it now, playing a black soul artist at a party full of 14 year old white children was pretty much equivalent to playing opera… I was so embarrassed that I refused to take ownership for picking the music and pretty much ducked my head the rest of the party, as if anyone even remembered 15 minutes later. That seems like something so so small but then why has it stuck with me to this day? It’s the little things like that throughout our lives that shape us into the people we are today. Fortunately for me, I have grown into someone who if now was in that exact situation, would yell boo back while forcing them to listen and appreciate some good music and culture! And they would love and accept me all the same because I’m no longer an insecure little girl, unsure if my type of music is okay to play proudly. I am who I am, and I choose the people that I surround myself with. Do not ever choose to surround yourself with people who try to turn down your music.
Something very important for me to talk about because I am bi-racial, is my viewpoints on some of the things going on in our country today with race. I think I have a sort of an advantage being able to see both sides of the arguments, considering I’ve grown up fully exposed to both black and white backgrounds. It’s actually incredibly interesting when I have an opinion on something and then literally think to myself “Oh my god! If I was white, people may have accused me of being racist!” Isn’t that crazy?! So because of that, I often empathize with white people that could be misinterpreted, because I myself have to have things explained to me sometimes also. For example, and this is a very small example but gets my point across well. On this season’s The Bachelorette, there was a very controversial guy named Lee. It was obvious to me that this guy was not racist because I mean come on, he’s literally on a show to win the hand of a black female. Now at the end of the season, many more inappropriate comments that he had made ended up coming out, but I want to clarify that the situation I’m about to explain was before any of those things surfaced, so he really just appeared to be a regular guy. There was a wrestler on the show also, and they had gotten into it pretty badly. In an argument when the wrestler was standing up and yelling forcefully towards Lee, Lee had told him to stop acting aggressively. This stirred up a bunch of controversy and drama on the show because the black audience felt that a white man calling a black man aggressive was insensitive towards black history and the stigma that black men are aggressive. Woah. Let me just say I did not see that or get that at all. I didn’t know this was a thing. I thought ALL men were seen as aggressive, and I mean he was literally a professional wrestler being aggressive! I had to have 3 different people try to explain the black perspective to me because I just thought people were overreacting. While to this day I still do not fully agree with the anger the black audience felt, I can respect that those are their feelings and after all that this race has been through in this country, their culture is more than entitled to their feelings. It wasn’t until the other horrible things that he had said afterwards had come out that I was like “Oh! Gees! Maybe he did know what he was saying!” This situation just goes to show that not everyone understands what other’s see as offensive.
Racism is not an old concept. Racism is extremely alive and well in today’s society. It’s hard because as much as we want to try and move forward, there was just so much damage done and still being done, that just ignoring the issue is not successfully getting rid of the problem. Just the fact that our country elected our current president who is just blatantly racist time and time again, shows that progress is slow moving.
Another race related topic that genuinely bothers me is “the race card”. This subject is so difficult to touch upon because I have two extreme opinions of both sides. On the one side, it pains me when people play the race card sometimes. My mother has been through unimaginable difficulties in her life because of the fact that when she was 16 she decided to be with a black man. She gave up (and no I’m not being dramatic) just about everything to stand by what she believed in, sacrificing friends and family. She stayed with my father from 16 to 30 and had two mixed girls with him, wearing the battle that she fought proudly through her children. The fact that my mom called me hysterical one day, that someone at her school had yelled at her and accused her of being racist, enraged me. She was so hurt and it broke my heart. How dare you, someone who has NO IDEA about another person’s life, make such an offensive accusation. My mom fought incredibly hard against racism and it took you roughly 2 seconds to make a horrible snap judgment of someone because it was an easy card to play. I wish I could’ve been able to walk around the corner right then to give my mom a big hug and flip the lady off.
ON THE OTHER HAND, SOMETIMES PEOPLE REALLY ARE RACIST. Look at the absolutely horrific events from this past weekend, the riots in Virginia. There were hundreds of white supremacists out there that felt so strongly about the superiority of their race that they needed to protest it. Those people don’t just curl up into holes at the end of the night (though I wish they would). These are our mailmen and teachers and waiters. These are our BOSSES. So sometimes, I get it, sometimes it really is about race. I just ask that people take a minute and slow down. Think before jumping to potentially hurtful conclusions. Is there really no other reason this person could be treating me this way? Maybe they’re just nasty to everyone. A lot of the time it’s as simple as that, and people just suck.