I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation…
“So, are you black??”
“No, I’m mixed.”
“You have black in you?”
“Yep. Italian, German, Black, and Cherokee.”
“Oh, well then, you’re black.”
Don’t you think if it was the same thing, I would’ve just said yes?! What was the point of even asking if you were just going to correct me anyways? Look, I know your point of saying being mixed is the same thing as being black, is to prove that you are “cool” with black people, but it’s offensive. When someone takes the time to correct you, it’s because they don’t identify as black. Mixed kids get labeled as white by the black kids, and black as the white kids. We can’t check just one box.
Mixed kids may not have even grown up with all of their races in their household, so when you just assume they understand whatever racial stereotype you are talking/joking to them about, and they give you a blank stare, it’s because they’re thinking to themselves, “What an idiot!” For some reason, people feel the need to bring up racial stereotypes in a joking manner, to prove that they are not racist. In reality, all you are doing is proving that you do believe the stereotypes. That you’re not as open minded as you think you are.
I am the only one that’s mixed in my family. My siblings have a different biological father, who happens to be my dad, so we all grew up together. (If you’re confused by this, don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll have a blog on being a dad vs being a biological father one day…) Everyone else in our house is white. I am very close with my brother, he’s one of my best friends. I remember the first time he introduced me as his half sister. My heart sank into my stomach. We don’t call each other half brothers and sisters. He only did it because he was tired of people giving us the crazy look we get, and the “Wait…What??? Y’all are…???” questions. When I did the same thing with my sister, she felt I was rejecting her. It hurt her for years, until I was able to explain myself.
It’s hard enough not being like the rest of your family, without the outside opinions of all the “super excepting” assholes out there. If you do live in a house with both sides of your heritage, you are most certainly not going to want to only claim one half and completely ignore the other. Both sides have shown you love, so why shouldn’t you be able to claim both?
Stop giving people a hard time because they don’t want to do that. I’m going to say this again, stop trying to make people check one box.
If you really want to be cool and accepting, try getting to know someone…in a normal fashion. Ask them questions about where they’re from; what kind of music they like; what their favorite food is. Don’t just assume they listen to Tejano and love tamales, they may be half French and half Venezuelan. Or they could be half German and half Mexican, and happen to love tamales. If they do love tamales, ask them if their Mom makes them, and then invite yourself over for dinner! This is totally cool AND accepting.