By: Zoe Hobson
Growing up, I heard “what are you” more times then I can keep track of. Out of innocence my natural response started as “American of course”, and quickly turned into a forced smile and a reluctant “I’m mixed”.I never understood why white people were so perplexed with my light skin and kinky curls, I wasn’t a zoo animal, nor was I a gap model that needed constant attention. I was just a child. With the constant stares, and people stopping my white mother, and asking her if I was adopted, I knew from a young age I was different.
Don’t get me wrong, being a biracial woman is a beautiful gift I have received and I would never change who I am with the chance, but the challenges grew as I got older. I think sophomore year of High School is when it got bad. High school became extremely segregated, cliques distinguished themselves by race, what they liked to do, and it stopped being about play dates and the proximity kids lived from each other. We were becoming our own people, forming our own ideas about who we were and who we wanted to become.
It was hard for me to form any ideas about who I was, because I never really knew who I was. Of course I had friends and I fit in while growing up, but thinking back, I never actually fit in with any group. Although I had lived in the Virgin Islands for a few years where the majority was black people, I was too young then to be thinking so deeply about my race and who I actually was.
Like I said earlier, those were the years where friends came by chance, who you sit next too in class, or whose mothers knew each other. So the majority of my experiences in life were in contact with white people. Most of my friends were and are now white, and that was just how it was. They never really had an issue with me being mixed, nor was it brought up much, I just lived. Rarely thinking about my race.
As a mixed woman, I always identified as both black and white. But during my sophomore year, I realized that even though I identified as black, I never dappled with that side of me. Just due to where I lived and my life experiences up to that point, my life had been all…I guess the right word would be…white, my life had been white. So I decided to try harder to diversify my life. I seeked approval from black women. I began to learn more about my island culture and began listening to soul from the 60s.
Many may think this was the wrong way to go about this, but it changed my life. I fell in love with who I was, and thinking about it, I wish this had happened sooner, at this point, I thought, wow, this is a start to my life as a new person, or well, the same person I was with a new attitude towards life and who I was. I was a woman of color, and I feel like subconsciously put that behind me for so many years in fear of how white people would treat me.
Ironically, the opposite happened. I received the harshest comments, stereotypes, and prejudice from black women. As I was trying to find my spot in the world of black women, which I thought would be the most accepting, they were trying to keep me out. They shunned me because, “I was lightskin, and not full black, I didn’t understand the same troubles they went through”, so because of that, I couldn’t be labeled as a true black woman. Yes, maybe I haven’t been through the exact same experiences as them, but to oppressive white people, any person of color regardless of the shade is gonna be oppressed.
So at that point I was back at square one, I’m still not truly accepted and apart of any group of people. This has caused huge issues in my life. Even depression came along, all because I wasn’t accepted by people who I felt should be the most accepting as we have all been through the same issues growing up. But I guess I’m not really black though.
Do I continue to long for their acceptance of me, or do I move on? I won’t lie. I will always want to be accepted as a black woman, because I feel as though I am, regardless of my shade or what percent white I am. However, I’m not going to waste time trying to get approval from those who continue to question who I am.
I will continue to identify as a black woman, a white woman, and a biracial woman, regardless of who will back me up on such identification. Although black women don’t accept me as one of them, I still respect their strength, and intelligence in a country ran by white male dominance.
Even though them seeing me as a fellow black woman is very important to me and I do hope it will happen in my life time, this doesn’t make me think of them as any less. I whole heartily believe their reluctance to let me identify as so, comes from years of oppression, and I can’t argue with built up anger and frustrations. However I will say, the biggest fault of black culture in America is at times, we are fighting against each other and it’s the wrong time to do so.
We should be forming alliances, coming together to stop oppression against us, regardless of our shades of black, regardless of how much money we have. As we fight against each other, we fall more vulnerable to outside forces that want to see us fail, and as we fight, they win.
You’re Black in my book!
[…] How Much Black Does It Take to be Considered a Black Woman? […]
You said you grew up white and your world was white. One thing you’re not getting is that black is not just a race it’s also a culture. A culture that you mostly only know about from music and books. A group of people that would accept you is the biracial group of people, as y’all all go through similar experiences, especially facing identity issues. You want to be something you’re not, and that’s the issue.
^ aww diddums, someone wants to play ‘alienate the lightie’…she’s half black, so is black…deal with it. Maybe learn a little self love?…goes a long way.
I can relate to this bc I’m also a mix girl.
I liked this. It helps me realise that I’m not alone in the whole “cannot Identify thing”. Simply put I can relate. I come from a line of black, asian, native indian and small percentage of white on my mum’s side. I look mostly black and asian/native indian. However, I grew up culturally black (afro caribbean) and cant identify like other mixed or multiethnic girls. But to myself and some unsuspecting people I am what I am. And im cool with tht. Im not the right shade of skin to ne considered mixed nor do I have the draping curls… Read more »
Why is it difficult for you all to ID as biracial though? The old tired trope that “racists will see me as black” is borderline offensive to me. In so many words, you’re saying that the reason you ID as black is not because of how you were raised culturally, or who you identify the most with, or your personal experiences…but because of how racists will view you? You literally posted that you viewed yourself as white for years, the fact that you had the OPTION to navigate the world as white proves that you do not have the same… Read more »
The writer indicates that she ‘feels’ as if she is black. One has to take their ownership of their identity. I also note that her encounters with other females who are black has been generalized to be one of all other black women. I cannot understand why we seek acceptance outside of whom and whose we know we are .
As a Black woman, I do not consider biracial/multiracial women “Black”. Never have and never will. Genetics is part of the reason why I don’t consider them Black. Someone who is a product of miscegenation should never be accepted or seen as the same as the monoracial whole of the races that they are mixed with. Culture also plays a role in this as well. Many if not most biracial children are raised by their White or non Black mothers. So culturally most biracial children are non Black identitied and relate more with their non Black side. Phenotype matters too.… Read more »
You are not black you need two black parents to be black. I an so sick of mixed race people saying they are black especially mixed women. Its time for black women to take back our image. By the way I have a mixed race son he would never say he is black or white but mixed. The black race is not for dumping grounds for the rejects of the other race.
I’m light skinned. My parents and grandparents identified themselves as black. I’m from the hood (SWP). The stereotypes are the worse. The assumption is that bc you’re light you’re beautiful, desirable and more likely to – I don’t know whatever the fuck ppl come up with. PRIVILEGE . And it’s real. POC automatically assumed that I was college degreed and smart during my 20’s. I had a light gf who once told me that she didn’t feel that she should have to work with “remedial” non college degreed black people. Imagine her surprise when I told my former friend that… Read more »
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