Meghan Dooley, age 22
WHAT MIX ARE YOU?
I’m mixed with both black and white. My mother is white, from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan which is a northern suburb of Detroit. She is of Irish and German descent. My father is African American.
WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?
I currently live in Berkley, Michigan - which is a suburb just north of the city of Detroit.
IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?
Unfortunately, no. Some of the things you may have learned about in the movie ‘8 Mile’ are true. There is a significant divide between the city of Detroit and those living in the suburbs. Being born and raised throughout the suburbs of Detroit often meant the communities in which I was raised were primarily white. As of right now, the community in which I live is not rich in diversity by any means.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I’m originally from Birmingham, Michigan and that is where I was raised as well. The community was solely white. There were maybe two black children in my entire elementary school, but none were mixed. My middle school was a bit more diverse, with exposure to Jewish, Black, Muslim and several biracial students (due to its location), but upon entering high school it was about 98% percent white once again. I didn’t know anyone who I felt could truly identify with my experience.
HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?
My mom’s friend’s 21st birthday party.
WERE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT OBSTACLES IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP CORRELATED TO YOUR BACKGROUNDS?
Definitely. For one, my parents weren’t together during the time I was being raised. In fact, I’ve never had any sort of relationship with my father at all. That obstacle alone made it difficult for me to fully understand my biracial identity. I felt confused and during my younger years believed I was adopted because I didn’t even know being mixed race was feasible.
HAS YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY ALWAYS BEEN SUPPORTIVE OF YOU BEING BIRACIAL?
Being that I was only surrounded by my white family, my biracial makeup was never really acknowledged. I was accepted as I was and for who I was, so yeah, I guess they were supportive.
DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?
I guess I don’t really have any cultural connection or traditions in the that aspect of my life! As I grow older as an individual and understand myself more deeply I would like to learn more about my cultural traditions and attempt to embrace them.
WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?
No, I wish!
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?
Most definitely music and food!
WHAT ACTIONS DID YOUR PARENTS TAKE TO TEACH YOU ABOUT YOUR DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS?
Since I wasn’t raised with a black presence to represent the black side of myself, my mom encouraged me to play with black and brown dolls, watch shows with minorities as lead roles and reaffirmed my differences were beautiful (since I didn’t look like the white kids I went to school with). My mom always wanted me to know that I was both black and white and that it was okay to know and understand both aspects of myself.
DID YOU TALK ABOUT RACE A LOT IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?
My mom has always been an open book with me. Race was brought up from time to time, but I didn’t question race relationships or even my racial background until I became older and more self aware. Whenever I asked, it was definitely always open for discussion. But my extended family was more ‘hush, hush’ about the topic.
DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?
Either biracial or mixed.
DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?
Not at all.
WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?
Having a truly unique experience and embracing a variation of cultures, all within one individual.
DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?
I don’t. I love my friends, but I would have loved to have someone who understood my struggles when I was growing up.
ARE THERE ANY COMMENTS YOU ARE REALLY TIRED OF HEARING FROM PEOPLE IN REGARDS TO RACE/CULTURE?
“Who do you like more white or black guys?”
“What are you?”
“Your hair looks so hard to deal with!”
“You act more white than anything, I don’t even consider you black.”
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM FOR THE FUTURE OF AMERICA IN REGARDS TO RACE?
To celebrate and embrace culture and ethnicity but recognize that race is not a defining point.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?
I’m a passionate storyteller engaged in the culture news community. There’s always something to explore and share. Let’s do it big.