“My People.”- “You mean OUR People.” Five conversations you have being Mixed.
Throughout the course of a Mixed person’s life there is a standard blueprint of questions, comments and conversations you have in some form or fashion. Whether it’s explaining your ethnic origins or your hair texture, it’s an inevitable swirl of information that at times feel like an interrogation. Occasionally, it can be micro-aggressions with no malicious intent and other times it feels like you’re set up to be on the defensive, especially with brand new people. Below are five conversation topics or points a current mixed millennial has to deal with.
“Which side do you identify more with?”
I love this question. NOT. It’s very hard to explain what I identify more with because that makes me feel like I have to pick a side. Picking that side in my opinion means I’m not embodying the sum whole of me which is blended with more than one race. Does it really matter if I identify with either culture more than the other? Perhaps I’m doing my best to represent them both, and if I’m not, is that going to make you look at me differently? Can you just see me as a whole? I don’t ask who do you identify more with let’s say Justin Timberlake vs. Eminem, Beyoncé or Kelly Rowland, Selena Gomez vs. Demi Lovato, get the picture?
“I mean you're (ethnicity), but you’re not really (ethnicity)”
In conversation whether it be politics, pop culture, language or food, negating my culture because I’m mixed is wrong. Just because I’m mixed doesn’t mean I don’t understand the trials, triumphs, and struggles of each side of me. In choosing to immediately shelve my opinion or thoughts because I’m not 100% of anything means your invalidating my opinion before I even give it. My experience as a Mixed person could be just as reflective of both cultures regardless of my skin color, hair type, or vernacular.
“There’s no way you're (ethnicity)”
Yes I’m joking just to throw you off the trail. If you ask what I’m mixed with and I tell you, why because I don’t fit whatever racial mold you attribute with that culture, do you think I’m lying? If I tell you I’m half Mexican, that should be the end of it. I shouldn’t be challenged to speak Spanish (this proves nothing when this is the second language in the US) or tell you which parent is what to make that a solid claim. Why would anyone lie about their ethnic heritage? And no we’re not including Rachel Dolezal in this conversation. There’s nothing I could do to prove otherwise to you if you already have your mind made up I don’t meet the racial profile you’re accustomed to.
“Wow. You don’t look (ethnicity)”
Well I’m mixed, multiracial, or biracial. Just because my skin is lighter or darker doesn’t mean I’m not my ethnicity. My genetic make-up is not up for debate or discussion. I’m sorry I don’t look reflective of my culture in your eyes, but I am mixed, there’s no way to explain that. You can look at a smoothie that’s blue and not know all the ingredients that were compiled to make it that way, but it doesn’t change that the smoothie is a smoothie. What I look like to you will never change what I am and I cannot apologize for that.
In a world plagued by hate and racial divide, let’s practice kind words and conversations that allow us to learn about each other. Not every mixed person is open to educating every stranger on the different attributes that make up their mixed identity, but most are willing to engage thoughtful questions and conversation. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it and that is key when asking anyone about their cultural history and background.