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By Veronica L.
As a bi-racial girl growing up in the Bay Area, I was never confused about my ethnicity. I never thought it was strange; I never gave it much thought at all. But as I grew older I started to think about it more and more. My peers began to make comments about how funny it was that I was half black and their skin was darker then mine.
I am half black and half white and I have noticed that because I have fair skin, and light eyes, people tend to think of me as white, not being able to mentally categorize me as two races. They are aware that I am bi-racial and yet they can’t seem to fully accept my duality. They will often make comments such as, “stop pretending to be black” or “I don’t even think of you as black”. I often find myself having to explain why telling me that I am not allowed to identify as black because I don’t fit into stereotypes, is racist. People, knowingly or not, have an idea about what a black person is supposed to look and act like. Because I don’t fit in to such stereotypes, they don’t identify me as black. On the other hand, I don’t fully fit into stereotypes about white people either. This creates a puzzle of identification that people tend to solve by associated mixed people with the race they most closely resemble taking away a mixed person’s freedom to identify themself.
Being bi-racial makes it difficult to fully identify with either race, feeling slightly out of place when identifying with the common history of either side. At family gatherings with my white side, I can’t help but feel that my round nose and kinky hair sets me apart. On my black side, I can’t help but notice that I am the palest person in the room. Many bi-racial people I have spoken to, face a similar sense of out-of-placeless. Being mixed is a unique state of being and because people are used to separating races, they find it difficult to accept when those races come together. Whether this is the result of a fundamental need to categorize or de facto segregation, I do not know. Despite not fully fitting in, it also makes us stand out. Being mixed means being able to have a unique combination of physical features. It means a person is influenced by multiple cultures and it is the future of the American melting pot and ultimately, the future of the world. I think of race as a culture, not a color and I can’t wait for a day when a person is allowed to celebrate any culture they are a part of without any sense of awkwardness.