Black History Month as a Biracial Girl

At first glance, most people would likely look at me and assume I’m 100% white. That is definitely a fair assumption considering my mom is ghostly pale, and I rarely go outside, especially thanks to the pandemic. But my entire life, I have had this internal struggle trying to understand where I fit into a world where racial injustice happens every day to people who look like my father and his side of my family. In my desire to do what I can to fight racism and learn more about the injustices occurring across our country, I thought I should start by looking at myself and my journey so far as a half-black girl and half-white in America.

I don’t talk to my father or his family due to personal reasons, but I still feel inherently connected to parts of black culture and the desire to know more about that half of myself. Growing up, my school was predominantly white, so I, unfortunately, didn’t get much exposure in that sense. But over the past couple of years, I have been trying to get a better understanding of both sides of my life.

Last year’s BLM movement allowed me to educate myself even more and to find people who are just as confused as me in this world. For many biracial kids such as myself, there is this fine line we walk where we feel like we aren’t accepted by either race or that one race rejects us due to our skin tone. It definitely doesn’t help when most of the online forms I’ve had to fill out in my life ask me to only pick one answer under the race column. In my head, I’m both. Though I was raised by the white half of my family, it still feels wrong for me to ignore the fact that I’m half black. They equally make up who I am, even if society can’t tell from just looking at me.

Granted, I am by no means claiming that my life has ever or will ever be as difficult as other POC who are not white-passing. Colorism is sadly a harsh reality in the POC community, and I know I’m on the side of privilege in this case. I have learned of ways to use this privilege to help those who don’t have it as much as I can, and I have opened myself up to learning more every day. But I also know that even though I am white-passing, I haven’t been able to completely avoid microaggressions growing up.

There are some moments from when I was growing up that stick in my head as a bit uncomfortable now that I look back on it. Though I won’t delve too much into all of them, there are a couple that I think deserve a bit of a mention. The first is the one about my hair. Most of the girls at my school had wavy to straight hair, especially in middle school when it was on-trend to straighten your hair every day. I didn’t do this, and so when my hair was down, strangers would often take it upon themselves to touch and play with my hair to see if I would notice since it is so curly. I hated this. Often I would just awkwardly laugh it off because I was an anxious middle-schooler, but inside it made me feel like I was a dog who people were just bombarding with unsolicited contact disguised as a compliment. This always left me feeling weird, but it definitely happened at least once or twice a week.

In school, I would also often have people use the fact that I was biracial to their own social advantages. These people, some of whom I considered my closest friends, would joke about how I was half-black, but they were still tanner than me as a white person. This was all fun and games, and I played along with it, but where it doesn’t add up for me is when those same people would use me as their get-out-of-jail-free card to use the n-word. This situation has always left me feeling gross since it comes across as though I’m not black enough until someone wants me to be. I don’t even look at myself as truly having the right to say the n-word considering I don’t suffer the way those who have been called that did and do.

Presently, I definitely see myself and my peers becoming more educated on the topic of racial injustice in the world and the United States. Seeing it is heartwarming to me, and I hope to continue growing so that I don’t make mistakes that could hurt others. I also hope to become more and more active in fighting for the equality of all races and using my voice to elevate others. In honor of Black History Month and the fight against racism, get out there and do what you can as well, whether it be donating, protesting, or simply sharing fact-checked information to educate those around you.