Black By Popular Demand

(I know this article will upset someone, so I will try my hardest to convey this-that this article was not meant to harm, hurt, or offend anyone’s feelings. It’s simply a view from a biracial woman from the South. I also know that someone will read this and think, “well no one DEMANDS that you call yourself black.” Again, I do apologize. I simply liked the title and wrote the piece in accordance with it. The title was actually the precursor for this article. Also, I know that someone will say that, “at least she has the ambiguous looks that help her have that duality.” When it comes to identity, it’s a SUPER HUGE problem, trust me. Especially when you’re young and your self identity is forming itself. Thick skin is something I was not blessed with growing up. That’s the reason this article was written.)

When black is mixed (see what I did there?) into the picture, I get equally upset and more unsure of how I should answer that question. I identify myself as black. I have no problem identifying as mixed (Black and Caucasian), but whatever you do, don’t call me white.

I know where this complex stems from. I grew up in a majority black school system in a small town in Mississippi. I was in one home until I was twelve years old, then entered foster care (long story, I’ll save that for another day). I traveled through many school systems, and ended up in places as far south as Biloxi (the coast on the Gulf of Mexico) to Clarksdale in North Mississippi (the Delta). At all of these schools, whites were considered the “bad guys.” And throughout a significant portion of history, they have been. The Spanish conquest of Mexico, the British and American slave trade, the whole Atlantic slave trade, the concept of “the White Man’s Burden,” and a host of other things and instances are what have made people of European descent, well, not look so good.

Another thing. Where I grew up, it was lame to be white. They couldn’t dance, had no rhythm, (a stereotype, cuz I know some white folk who can absolutely kill it on the dance floor-not to mention whites who are part of the Divine Nine at my school and step just like the rest of us), didn’t cook well, and weren’t as good at sports as us (think White Men Can’t Jump). So I never just claimed my white side, even though I’m super light skinned, have green eyes, and what some other people call “good hair,” or as the old folks say, a “good grade of hair.” Growing up and sometimes still, unfortunately, I hated my hair. True enough, I could pull it back into a pretty decent ponytail, but it would always frizz and neither gel nor edge control could ever hold it down. (There’s a meme that says “Edge control be like, I got you for the first five minutes;” I always laugh at that and understand it in its entirety).

I COULD NOT STAND the color of my skin. I was always jealous to the point of hating myself of mixed girls who were the slightest shade darker than me, or of girls who could pass as black and get away with someone not knowing they were half white.

I wanted my white side not to be near as obvious as it was. As apparent as it is, I still hate when people call me white, or when someone calls me “more white than black.” There is NOTHING that gets under my skin more than that. About two years ago, I had an older man on Facebook call me a “f*cking half-breed.” I was hurt. I was burned. I was scarred. It plays in my memory to this day. But I have to think, that guy didn’t create me. He didn’t give me permission to live, to breathe. Therefore, I don’t need his permission to be myself, whether that be white, black, or purple. I only have to be myself. God, whoever He may be to you (he, she, it, them, whatever) gave me permission to be as soon as black sperm met white egg. And I didn’t have a hand in that. He didn’t either.

But another reason I call myself black is because if I called myself simply white, you’d realize that something was amiss-that I wasn’t exactly “all” the way white. That some other blood flowed through my veins. If I called myself black, you’d simply say to yourself, “I can see that, but she just might have something else in her. She may just be super light skinned, or someone in her immediate family may be white or something.” But I believe I can “get away with” (I won’t use “passing” in this instance because it is usually referred to as just the opposite, or a black passing for a white) being black, or biracial. So in a way, and I mean this in the most unconvinced way, a lot of biracial or multiracial people who have direct African ancestry are socially classified as, well, black. Especially in the South where mulatto slaves were still slaves because of that “one drop of black blood” rule, even if it’s apparent that they aren’t completely so. And I, for one, don’t have a problem with that.

Thanks for reading.

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