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“Choose Only One”: The Reality of Filling Out Forms When You’re Biracial

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

I’ve been told I talk or dress too White for years. My curls fell out into a frizzy, knotted mess around age eight. I got too busy in high school to spend as much time outside as I did when I was a child, so I tended to have a paler complexion. Despite all of this, I still identify with my African American side at heart. I am biracial and nothing will ever change that.

Finally, I am comfortable embracing both sides of my identity, but filling out my own information on papers has caused me to struggle yet again.

“Choose one of the following.” These five words are dreaded when I must select my racial identity on documents. I’m biracial, how do I choose just one? The answer is simple: I can’t. Recently, I was answering questions on a formal document, and I couldn’t select multiple races under the identity category. I mulled over the options in my head for hours. If I just pick White, that’s a lie because you can tell that isn’t the full truth from my headshots, but if I pick Black, I still fear that it could cause more harm than good. I worry that they will think I am lying, or just overall assume the worst. I couldn’t choose because either option felt like a betrayal to the other half of myself.

Mentally, this experience was a setback for a few days. I became self-conscious about my physical features and questioned if it was right for me to have my hair in knotless braids. Of course I know that isn’t true, but it makes me question myself.

I appreciate those that give the options to select all that apply, or just have a mixed-race option to select. If that’s you, keep it up. If you only allow people to select one, get with the program. It’s 2024 and a lot of people identify as multiracial, so can we please have that as an option if you’re going to ask about race?

Mikia Lawrence is the current Vice President and Co- Campus Correspondent of MSU's Her Campus Chapter and is starting her first year of the position. She oversees chapter operation and assists with internal as well as external affairs such as meeting planning, brand partnerships, and recruiting. Lawrence is also a part of the design and editing teams to create graphics and edit content for her chapter. She is a junior journalism major at MSU with minors in broadcast journalism and leadership of organizations. She was an anchor and the producer for her high school's daily live announcements throughout her four years. In the 2024 spring semester she was an intern at HOMTV in Meridian Township. In her free time, she enjoys watching sports with friends, reading, writing, and playing dinosaurs with her little brother.