I am half black and half white, but there seems to be confusion about what that means. I have been told many times that because I am half white that I am not affected by the racism around me. I have been told that I don’t talk “black enough” and asked “What are you?”
A large portion of our student population is multiracial. Nationally, mixed race groups are growing rapidly. According to the 2010 census, some mixed groups have grown 50% compared to 10 years ago.Yet, nobody seems to understand the struggles and complexities of being biracial.
Much like me, these people feel the same struggle of finding oneself pulled between the two traditions they belong to.
Junior Jaya Krishnan, who is Black and Indian, has been told that she couldn’t be more than one race, “When I was in elementary school, people told me that you couldn’t be two races. They would get really confused when I would say I was Indian and Black.”
This confusion is telling. When others are confused about what you are, you begin to question who you are, too.
This confusion doesn’t stop in the playground. It follow us to high school and even our homes. Sometimes our families’ different cultures clash.
Junior Lelani Love struggles to find her place in between her two ethnicities, African American and Filipina, “Sometimes I don’t completely fit in because I’m not Filipino like a lot of my family… They are pretty traditional.”
In the midst of confusion many of us are pressured to side with one identity. “I have been pressured to pick one and to go more towards the stereotype of one over the other,” Krishnan says.
Some of us who embrace both cultures are shut down with simple questions such as “What are you?” The question seems harmless enough but there is hidden meaning behind the three words.
Krishnan explains the problem perfectly: “ It’s like, I’m a human being. Not a what.” Being biracial does not define who we are, so it shouldn’t matter what ethnicity we are.
Freshman Jocelyn Martinez Nguyen, who is both Hispanic and Vietnamese, says, “It’s not that different. It’s normal.”
Others don’t seem to realize that being biracial does not define us as people. Just because we are a mix of two races does not mean that we are freaks of nature or something to wonder about.
Once we have come to terms with our own ethnicities, being biracial is just like being everyone else. There are some advantages, too.
Martinez Nguyen is learning to speak Vietnamese, which would make her trilingual. She is already fluent in English and Spanish. “The cool thing is being able to learn about multiple different cultures … I have been to Mexico. In the future, I want to travel to Vietnam.”
So to clarify, I am both white and black.
I am affected by the racism around me.
I do “speak black” enough.
And “What am I?” I am a beautiful, biracial, human being.