By: Amber Canty
I am a black woman, I will always be black and nothing can change that. I understand that not every mixed person wants to choose one race over the other but at the same time I do. My race is black and my ethnicity is multiracial. With that being said, I do have a white parent, one who struggles very hard to grasp my blackness and the concept of it. I know there are a lot of people whose parents might not be “woke” yet or who like me have a non black parent who you have to defend, explain or educate them on said blackness.
As a biracial child with a white father I have experienced many racist remarks and micro-aggressions from my father. This is different than dealing with strangers, peers or even racist trolls on Facebook and twitter. Half of them is inside of you, how do you look at the person who helped give you life and explain to them that they are essentially killing you, telling you your color doesn’t matter and that in order to fit in you must give up the “darkness” to be accepted into the light?
I remember the first time me and my father had our first serious race conversation. It was a difficult conversation to have but it was necessary. It started when he made a comment about my black brother’s hair, comparing it to pubic hair. There was also the time when he referred to my natural hair as looking similar to a clown’s wig.
Having to explain why racist jokes and inferences are not okay to someone who is supposed to value and protect you is tiring. I was infuriated beyond words, and thus our conversation began, having to defend and explain concepts such as racism and how his comment was a micro aggression directed at my brother’s blackness.
This conversation became a never ending circle of him not getting it. A white person dealing with their privilege in any instance is an uncomfortable event for them, but getting this talk from your child must be even more so. So I decided to educate my white father on my blackness and be the guiding light for him.
He did not understand why I associated with my blackness so much more than I did with his whiteness. He could not grasp the difference between my race and ethnicity and why I put black on my tests and applications. For some reason, the fact that I considered myself black offended him immensely.
How do you explain these things to a white man who doesn’t even want to get it? I gave him facts and statistics on how black people in the US are systemically oppressed and kept in a revolving situation that simultaneously compresses their blackness while condemning it in the same instance.
I also tried to explain to him that I will go through life being asked to apologize for my blackness and have people constantly asking for something I cannot give because I did nothing wrong. How do I explain that even my hair is an act of rebellion, that I will be told to comb my curls back, to fix them, to straighten them to be looked at as respectable? That I must look like white people in order to deserve respect? That I may have to deal with a lifetime of microagressions, racism, and questions involving my genetic makeup by people who are also white?
How can you explain that to someone who has only known racial privilege. I recently read an article where the white mother of biracial kids said she hoped her kids would not be defined by their blackness. How can you not be defined by being black when that is what you are? My hair, my nose, my complexion, my essence is all due to my blackness. My father’s favorite line to preach is colorblindness, but colorblindness cannot exist when you have a black child, because I am a person of color, and by saying you don’t see color you are saying you don’t see me.
It is weird to have a parent, who is supposed to teach you things about life and share their experiences with you, that cannot do that. As a black woman my life in its entirety, is completely different than that of a white persons but even more so a white males. Our differences arise from not only a gender based difference, but also because of the complex comparison of a white person and a black person’s life.
It is hard to express to them that as black children we do not get the same privileges as them, we are faced with hardships and struggles that they do not comprehend. I have mixed friends, whose white parents have told them they can’t say ‘nigga’ to their black friends, my father being one of them, telling us that our experiences are basically the same.
Now that I am 23, I have decided that I have finally had enough. It is not my job to be ‘black google’ for any white person namely my father. I have also decided that it is not my sole responsibility to get him to accept or understand me.
Through all of this I sadly do not have any solid coping mechanisms that could help others with similar problems. I personally do different things each time and I am still learning and growing daily. I can say in the past when I’ve gotten extremely upset about the situation or something my father has said I’ve fallen back on myself to heal.
I draw or write poetry, anything that allows my mind to wander freely and create. Sometimes I will even discuss the situation with a close friend to try and see their perspective. Most of this has created a wall between me and my father. We do not really speak anymore due to the fact he cannot accept my blackness and I cannot be anything else.
In my journey to enlightenment and understanding who and what I am, I have discovered that you don’t have to explain your blackness to anyone who isn’t willing to understand it, including your parents.
I have also come to see that no matter what position someone holds in your life, if the relationship is detrimental to your own mental or emotional stability then it is not worth it. Being born a black woman is a magical journey that I have been blessed with being a part of, but having to explain my blackness to my parent no longer has to be a part of that journey.