Mixed Race Identity: it’s not always as simple as it appears

mica

I recently watched an episode of the American TV show Black-ish which makes hilarious yet deep remarks about being Black. One episode highlighted the complications of identity faced by Biracial people. The act of defining yourself can be somewhat challenging, coming from two different cultures can sometimes make it difficult to find a sense of belonging. Many people feel that it is their right to label you, whether their term is offensive or not is irrelevant. Some terms deem you as human, some don’t. They range from Biracial, Mixed-Race, Dual-Heritage, half-caste, half-breed, exotic, the list goes on.

It seems common for people with multiple ethnic backgrounds to feel the pressure of choosing only one part of their heritage to identify with (before anyone else feels that it is their right to do this for them). This should not be the case. For the ease of conversation, I would refer to myself as Black and I have repeatedly asked myself why. I am half Black Caribbean and half White British but saying Black is so much easier. As soon as you say “as a mixed race woman…”, each and every time there is a comment related to ‘Lightskined tendencies’. Although this is one of the reasons I revert to calling myself Black, I feel it is more deep rooted than this.

 

 

Image result for black ish family walt disney
Black-ish family.

 

The typical questions “why are you acting so White?” or “why are you acting so Black?” spring to mind when speaking of Biracial identity. When replying to this stating I can act in whichever way I please, I’m “acting Light skinned”. I’m stuck up, think I’m superior and my behaviours are put down to being Light skinned. There have been numerous times when darker skinned people have hated me because I have lighter skin, but please tell me when I have ever put myself on a pedestal for being light.

 

I am in no way pleading the victim if someone wants to hate because my skin is lighter that is their issue, not mine.

 

My Grandad has always told me that I will experience significantly more prejudice and hatred from Black people than from White people. Despite this, I should be proud to be Biracial and reap the benefits from both sides. It wasn’t until the last few years I understood what my Grandad has told me over many years and in general, I have experienced more hatred from Black people. Which is such a shame, shouldn’t Blackness be celebrated regardless of what shade you are? Why am I a half-breed, half-caste because Blackness spans 50% of my biology and not 100%, does that make me any less of a person, any less human? If this is how you view Biracial people it says more about you than me.

Derogatory remarks such as ‘you are acting Lightskined’ and all Light skinned people think they are better than others because of the fact they have less melanin, holds everyone back. As I walk this Earth I will always be perceived as a Light skinned Black woman and will always be more in-touch with my Black roots. Nevertheless, my actions should not be reduced to ‘Lightskined tendencies’ and the Black community should not judge one another based on actions perceived to be due to skin colour, light or dark.

Black people face enough racism as it is and we should not make it harder for each other. I will continue to refer to myself as Mixed and Black, but I am in no way shying away from the fact that half of me is White.

 

Mica Howard
@mica_lwe 
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