If there’s one thing I’ve learned as being a child of interracial parents—this is something a lot of interracial couples have asked me (and I guess the person who messaged me, too?)—is that you very much want to fit in, find your niche, find some hold to your parents identity because you want something to cling to. The truth is, though, that no matter how hard you try, that doesn’t really happen. You’re left to identify yourself, and there’s really no right or wrong answer there. The only solidarity you really have is the fact that there are other children of mixed race, too.
Of course, everyone has their own take on that, and I don’t speak as an ambassador for multiracial children or anything, but that’s how I’ve always felt. My experience is a personal one, different aspects have shaped my view point (even my brother and I don’t see eye-to-eye on that one). Being looked at as “other” is weird, let’s be honest. I don’t get the blatant racism my dad faces, but I don’t get the same privilege my mom has when not with us (and by us, I mean me, my brother, or my dad.) Being disowned by your grandfather forever because he’s racist sucks, getting your car dismantled by the KKK sucks even more, but those are scrapes that come with the territory, and can happen to any PoC or minority group.
I mean, that incident took place when I was six, so 1997? Don’t get me wrong, my dad’s family members and family friends are just as quick to jump on my brother and I for being partially white, lighter skinned, and “white sounding” (whatever that means, I haven’t quite figured out yet) or some of my friends are quick to introduce me as the “white one” with no hesitation, like it’s a disclaimer. Completely disregarding the rest of me, and yeah, maybe I need better friends, but I think it has more to do with ignorance to a culture that no one, not even us, really understand. Things are different, and I would like to believe, better.
Children of interracial parents have it better today, I think. I mean, I always think my brother and I have it so much better because we were born in the early nineties and not, let’s say, the 1960’s, 70’s or 80’s. Anything before that, and I just grimace. I imagine it must have sucked, unless they lived in some Utopia far away from most civilization. Statistically, there are more mixed children now then ever recorded, and that’s got to mean something good, right? I hope it does.
I think one of the most difficult aspects of being mixed, is that there’s endless possibilities of what a person can be. Just because you’re mixed, doesn’t mean your the same mixture as me. Can you see where that gets a little confusing? My mom’s Caucasian and Native American, and my dad’s Puerto Rican of African and Taino influence. My mix is not going to be every other multiracial persons mix. Am I confusing people, yet? Maybe.
Trust me, it makes my brain hurt too. What I go through may not be what another multiracial person ever goes through. Everyone’s experience is going to be different. Let’s say someone is mixed like me, exactly like me, but they grow up in Puerto Rico and not the United States, is their experience going to be different from mine? More than likely. How are their families attitudes towards race? Do their grandparents, aunts, uncles and so on have an issue with their son/daughter/brother/sister/whoever marrying outside their race? Do Black and White mixes have a different experience than White and Hispanic mixes? What about Black and Hispanic mixes compared to Asian and Black, or Asian and Hispanic? What about the multiracial children who have multiracial parents?
Family dynamics also play a huge role. I grew up in a two parent household. I was introduce to both sides of my parents collective cultures. Not everyone does. What about the multiracial children who are raised with only one presence in their life? You can’t expect them to embrace a side of themselves they don’t know. Or what if they do? What if they do want to know that side of themselves, and have no where to go with that? I know plenty of multiracial people who identify as one thing, and one thing only, and like I said, it’s a very personal thing. Just like you can’t tell me I can’t chose “M” on my FCAT as a kid, you can’t tell them they have to select “M” on their FCAT if they don’t want to.
You have to come into your own skin as a person. I believes this applies to everyone, but it most certainly applies to children of mixed race. You can’t force us to identify as you see fit. It’s a personal decision, and it may be simple, or it may take some time. The topic is on going, and as a child of mixed race you’d think I’d know more about our politics, but I’m just as confused when it comes down to it. You have a large group of people with different backgrounds, different racial makeups, the only thing we have in common is, surprisingly, being mixed.