I’m biracial. Mixed. Multi-cultured. Diverse. Multi-ethnic. Polyethnic. Whatever you want to call it I am a product of multiple ethnicities. My mother is Black, and my father is Mexican and Italian. That means I’m Black, Mexican, and Italian – cool. What’s not cool is societies perception of multi-cultural when Black is added. To be Black and biracial is taboo in a society that check marks us as Black when it is systematically beneficial to them, but, demands to know what our other races are when it is characteristically implausible to them that we are simply Black.
“I know you’re Black but what else are you? Puerto Rican?”
Growing up I did not look in the mirror and see a Black child, as a teen I did not look at my reflection and see Black adolescence, nor as a woman did I ever look at my reflection and see a beautiful Black woman. When people ask me what my ethnicity is I say I’m Black, Mexican, and Italian. Sometimes I say I’m mixed but If I do not volunteer my race it is declared for me, “I know you’re Black but what else are you? Puerto Rican?”
I wonder what gives me away. Is it my melatonin-less skin tone? The strands atop my head that do not quite coil as much as frizz in the dry heat? Why am I clearly Black to start and a guessing game to finish? Maybe it is because the one-drop rule declares it so.
People want to know my ethnicity. They want to know why I look so exotic and why I’m so beautiful as they say. They see the Black in me as clear as day and wonder what else I am as if my Black is not enough. “No wonder you’re so pretty,” “no wonder your hair is so long,” “no wonder it’s so curly -” stop. Stop doing this. Do not de-value Black women because you feel their qualities are limited to a dark complexion and “nappy” hair.
“The first time someone called me a beautiful Black queen I paused, surely they weren’t talking about me?”
The only time biracial people are not Black is when it fits society’s agenda of what a Black women isn’t. Otherwise, we are into the Black pot with the rest. The first time someone called me a beautiful Black queen I paused, surely they weren’t talking about me? Yet, we were the only two in the room together. It was the first and only time I’ve been referenced in such a way and I felt as though I didn’t deserve it. Yes, I am a Black woman. No, I am not ashamed to be Black. No, I do not feel accepted.
Sometimes being a part of so many cultures means I am not a part of any – at least it feels that way. Never feeling Black enough or Mexican enough to fit in anywhere. I don’t pretend to suffer the same prejudices and cultural racism as someone with a darker skin tone. I realize as a mixed child of a lighter skin tone, that in itself, carries privilege. With it also carries solitude and doubt.
“In that moment I was Mexican.”
Where do I fit? Logic says I can fit in anywhere and everywhere because I am a product of multiple cultures. As a mixed child it simply feels like being in the middle of chaos. In high school we had what they called race riots at the end of the year. The word riot does not sound appropriate right now looking at the news with such fire and destruction but a few dozen Black and Mexican teenagers yelling across the lunch arena at each other was a big deal at the time. Their deep rooted anger came from somewhere, passed down from generation to generation.
I am Black and Mexican so when the staff moved everyone into classrooms and offices to separate the Mexican from the Black I was placed in a room with Mexican children and my older brother, who has a darker skin tone and more textured hair, was thrown in a room with Black children. In that moment I was Mexican.
“Black Lives Matter.”
As a Mexican woman today, I stand with the Black community in support of Black Lives Matter, as a Black woman I stand proud to be Black in support of Black Lives Matter, as an Italian woman I stand in support of the Black community for Black Lives Matter. As a human being in a world where the color of your skin measures the value of your life I stand with the Black community in support of Black Lives Matter. If you have a voice, use it. Speak up for those not heard.
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