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

My racial identity is mixed with white and Black; I have a white dad and a Black mom. I proudly identify as a Black woman. However, it took years of self-discovery and understanding for me to fully accept who I am as a person. 

Absolutely adorable photos of me and my parents from when I was younger 

One of the first observations I ever made was that I didn’t look like other kids my age. I had white friends, I had Black friends and I had Hispanic friends; however, none of them looked like me. I didn’t look “white” enough to other white people; I had darker skin, and I didn’t have similar facial features to my white family members or my white friends. I didn’t look “Black” enough to other Black people; my skin wasn’t dark enough, and although I had facial features that catered more toward Black facial features than white facial features, to me they didn’t seem Black enough. My hair also didn’t seem curly enough to be accepted as Black curly hair. Sometimes, I would straighten my hair, and when I did, many people thought that I looked Hispanic. The fact that I went to a Spanish Immersion Elementary school just exacerbated that misconception. 

People constantly told me that they thought my parents adopted me, and they were surprised when I told them I wasn’t adopted. As I grew older, I just became more confused. I didn’t know who I was. I realized that I didn’t really look like my parents, which eventually led to me thinking I didn’t look like any of my relatives. All of my relatives looked like each other, but I felt like the odd one out. I felt misplaced among my own family members.

I felt the same way with friends. I had no mixed friends in elementary or middle school. Therefore, I virtually had no companions that looked like me, which made it difficult to relate to them. Sure, I got along with them well, but I wasn’t able to emotionally bond with them as well as they could bond with each other of the same race. My friend groups were diverse. My white friends had other white friends. My Black friends had other Black friends. My Hispanic friends had other Hispanic friends. I was the only mixed one which meant I didn’t have any other mixed friends. 

Things changed once I got to high school. I made a couple new friends who were mixed. Although I loved all of my friends from home, I emotionally bonded the most with my friends who were mixed. We were able to relate to each other and would recount similar stories we shared. Before I met them, I would rethink the experiences I had regarding my racial identity. Because I didn’t know anyone then who experienced the same things I did, I felt abnormal. However, now that I had other mixed friends and we were able to relate to each other’s experiences, I felt validated. It was a relief to know that I wasn’t the only one who felt misplaced. 

Once I began to have a better understanding of my racial identity, I began to question why I started referring to myself as “Black” rather than “mixed.” Literally, I am mixed with white and Black. But I never felt mixed. It’s a bit difficult to understand, but to me the word ‘mixed’ just seems incomplete or too vague. To me, mixed feels like an awkward middle that is unsure or hesitant regarding what it means. I do want to say, I am absolutely not speaking for everyone. I’m aware that there are people who are mixed and would rather refer to themselves as mixed, and that is amazing for them. It’s good to have people refer to themselves however they want. I don’t wish to be insensitive whatsoever. My goal is only to share my personal feelings surrounding the term mixed, and why I don’t feel comfortable identifying with it. 

To me, mixed just doesn’t represent me the way that ‘Black’ does. When I fully understood myself, I almost automatically referred to myself as ‘Black’ rather than ‘mixed.’ I do not wish to say that being half-white isn’t a part of me. It is, and I embrace that side of myself as well. However, being Black feels more true to myself; it feels more comforting. 

Soon, I was able to embrace my unique racial identity. I don’t look like a lot of Black people, or white people or other mixed people. But I’ve come to realize that is okay. I don’t have to look like other people that I share the same racial makeup with. Not every white person looks the same. Not every Black person looks the same. Not every mixed person should look the same. I made the mistake as a kid of constantly comparing myself with everyone else and wondering why I wasn’t like other people. But I don’t have to look like other people. I look like me. Now, I’ve finally been able to embrace who I am as a Black woman. I know now that Black people come in all colors and shades, and I think that’s a beautiful thing.  

Grace Ulferts

Northeastern '25

Hello! I'm Grace I am a third-year Behavioral Neuroscience and Philosophy major. I'm originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota. This is my second year being a part of Her Campus, and I absolutely love it! I love to write, and Her Campus is such a warm and welcoming community! :)