NAME AND AGE
Donnis, age 32
WHAT MIX ARE YOU?
Mixed Caribbean (Bermudian)
WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?
IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN DIVERSE?
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I was born and raised in Long Island, New York. Then moved to Williamsburg, Virginia and was partly raised there as well. Both places are like night and day. Long Island is more diverse, more POC and more to do. Whereas Williamsburg is the exact opposite. Went to a predominantly white school in a predominantly white town that still celebrates colonialism. Colonial Williamsburg ring a bell? If kids in Long Island identified as mixed, they didn’t talk about it. Same as in WBurg but they were few and far between. Felt like I was the only one tbh.
HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?
My parents met while still in high school. My Grammy and Nana knew of each other. My mom and Grammy were moving and my Nana told my dad to help my mom and be a gentleman. And they have been together ever since.
WERE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT OBSTACLES IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP CORRELATED TO YOUR BACKGROUNDS?
Not really. Back then they both identified as Black and still do though Native American culture is strong in our family as well. Identifying as Black in the 60s and 70s was hard enough.
HAS YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY ALWAYS BEEN SUPPORTIVE OF YOU BEING MULTIRACIAL/BIRACIAL?
I just started truly identifying as multiracial. Now that we know we have Cuban and Irish roots, I can’t ignore it. My family fully supports knowing who we are and where we come from.
DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?
Mostly African American and West Indian traditions tbh. I love Native American culture but growing up the most we did was listen to Native music. I’ve only been to a couple pow wow’s in my whole life and still feel so far removed. I wanna change that. We just had a naming ceremony. My tribal name is Blossoming Butterfly and being named with my whole family was a great experience! I’ll never forget it!!
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?
The music. I am so proud to be African American as well as my other races. And though I am very light skinned, I can connect with other Black people through music. I love hip hop, R&B, afropunk, jazz, rap. And like I said before, growing up on Native music is all I have to connect to that part of me. I am also exploring more of their spirituality. I am collecting dream catchers and other items. I feel very far removed from my Cuban side but I love the food and music. Now I just need to explore my Irish side.
WHAT ACTIONS DID YOUR PARENTS TAKE TO TEACH YOU ABOUT YOUR DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS?
There are so many stories about my great grandmother, Salomi, who was full blooded Cherokee. But again, music was always a great teacher and now that we started exploring our family tree further, we can find more.
DID YOU TALK ABOUT RACE A LOT IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP? More so about racism, growing up in a predominantly white town, we were going to experience it.
DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?
DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?
I don’t discriminate and now that I’m in Atlanta, I have been going out on dates with guys of different races. But I have only dated Black men seriously.
WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?
Being mixed is different cultures, characters and countries coming together to make little old me and I think it’s amazing.
DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?
I don’t. Mostly monoracial friends. I wish I had some. Especially growing up.
ARE THERE ANY COMMENTS YOU ARE REALLY TIRED OF HEARING FROM PEOPLE IN REGARDS TO RACE/CULTURE?
The dreaded “What are you?” question. Now I feel like people ask me to see who I side with. Black people want me to say ‘I’m Black’. Which I am and I’m damn proud of it. But when you ask the dreaded question I’ll give a smartass answer like “An alien”. Or say I’m mixed. I also hate that in the Black community saying you’re mixed is synonymous with saying you aren’t Black which isn’t true. When other races ask me and I say I’m mixed, they usually scoff and say “Well everyone’s mixed nowadays so what are you”. Why do I have to be forced to break myself down during our first interaction????
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM FOR THE FUTURE OF AMERICA IN REGARDS TO RACE?
Less ignorance. Less injustice. Racism is taught and educating ourselves about what it truly means and where each of us come from and how we can coexist is the only way to move forward.