Do You Hear Me Now?: What It's Like Being Multiracial

Do you hear me now? It is the question that runs through my head every time I am around my family. I am mixed and with that comes the constant misconceptions, fetishizations and judgements from those who will never understand the struggles and rewards of the people stuck in the middle. It also comes with the constant struggle to be understood by the very people that should understand you the most.

My mother is white and I am the only child of color on her side of the family. My father is black and I am the only child of mixed race on his side of the family. I am the darkest on my mother's side and I am the lightest on my dad’s side. I do not have my mom’s soft, wavy hair or my dad’s tight and indistinguishable curls. I have ringlets that are not my mom’s light brown or my dad’s black, but a red-tinted, dark brown. I have skin that turns to the color of coffee with too much cream in the winter and caramel candy in the summer. I have eyes that are a deep, dark brown, but appear lighter at times. I have a dimple in my left cheek and if I don’t wear makeup I still look like I am fifteen.

I am what everyone told me they envied growing up and I never understood why. It was always the way I looked that made people walk up and say “Your hair is so pretty I wish I had hair like that,” or “I wish I could be tan all the time, you know, like you!” Mixed children are fetishized or thought of as "ideal" from before they are born. People think that these kids with beautiful curls and caramel skin are so gorgeous and they want their kids to look like that, planning out an interracial relationship, even if it is just to have babies.

Does anyone ever think about the actual children in all these photos that they see and obsess over? A major concern that needs to be given attention is the effects of a child growing up with parents who have not experienced the same struggles of being multiracial. That is something that I worry about.

I worry about how hard it is for a mixed child, especially one who is black and white, to find a place where they fit into society. I worry about whether they will be able to get experiences from both cultures, or if they will be forced to pick one over the other in order to make themselves comfortable around their peers. I worry that if they choose to embrace and intertwine their different cultures that people will look at them differently and treat them as if they don’t belong because they do not fit whatever mold society has said that they should fit into.

I worry about them going through some of the same things I went through growing up. Will they be prepared for what the world will throw at them? Will they be surprised when people think less of them because of the color of their skin? Will they be hurt when people ask if they are adopted or if people confuse their parent as their friend because they don’t look enough like their parent for people to believe they are related. Will they be surprised when a waiter brings separate checks even when you’ve been calling the white woman across from you MOM all evening? Will they be hurt when their parent doesn’t understand that they are being treated differently simply because they are of color? Will their parent be surprised when one day their child comes home and says someone called them the n-word at a gas station, or that they are afraid to walk on their own college campus because there are people yelling racial slurs from a car window?

Do you hear me now? The question that runs through my head every time I am around my family, friends and strangers. Do you hear me now? Do you hear my worries? Do you finally hear my struggles? Do you hear how confused I was? How confused I still am? Do you hear me now? If you can’t, I will just scream louder until you can. Mixed children are beautiful. They are the embodiment of love, diversity and inclusion. With inclusion comes conversation, because when you have a mixed child you must include aspects of whatever culture or community they come from in their lives. You must teach them about where their family comes from and why their families are different. You must give them the tools to succeed and grow while knowing that they will come across situations that most people will probably never face in their lifetime.

It took me years to realize that being a mixed child, while amazing in thought, was so hard in reality. I struggled to find my identity and to come to grips with the fact that my family would never really understand what I was going through. I was too black for the white kids and too white for the black kids, and it wasn’t until I started living for myself that I realized I didn’t need to fit in. I was my own unique being that didn’t fit into society's basic mold of what someone should be and when I embraced that, everyone else did too. There is a lot to overcome when you are stuck in the middle of two distinctly different worlds; but, remembering that there are people who know what you’re going through makes it a little easier to believe that the middle is actually a good place to be stuck in.


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Pictures provided by: Ashleigh Griffin