Growing up as more than race can be hard. You are constantly made to feel like an outsider. Stuck sitting in your shade of awkward gray. You get teased, or berated for being whatever mix you are. In public, people ask you the golden question,
“What are you?”
Which doesn’t lessen the feeling of being strange.
I struggled growing up Black and Mexican. I often felt like I was never enough to fit in with either group. I got teased and left out since they considered me unlike them. I was made fun of. I even got bullied just because I looked different.
I felt alone.
In an effort to prove I fit in with either group, I sometimes made a fool of myself. Tried to mold myself in an attempt to fit into the box of ‘what was expected’.
As I got older, I eventually gravitated towards friends that accepted me for myself. Surrounded myself with people that didn’t make me feel like I was some kind of freak for not fitting into a single box. I also grew into creating my own identity. I came to see myself as not a collection of halves but a doubled whole.
Even though I reached this new found discovery, it doesn’t mean I haven’t had my moments of doubt and uncertainty. It’s a constant battle to assure yourself that you are amazing just as you are.
I got the opportunity to be a part of the “Love” episode of Black Women Own the Conversation. and I was a bit apprehensive at first. Even though I shouldn’t have, I had an overwhelming sense of imposter syndrome.
I mean, growing up, I was seen as not being black enough so often it made me feel like I wasn’t. So when this opportunity came, I felt a little like who was I to be in a room with these women?
But I reminded myself that I should never doubt my place in that room. I have every right to claim both sides without feeling like my right is diminished or less than others.
So when the day came, I went to the appointed place and waited with the other women to enter the filming area. Everyone seemed nice enough and I felt a sense of sisterhood being there. We were eventually called to and seated in the studio. The cameras began rolling as topics centered on love directed the flow of the conversation.
However, the tone suddenly changed when it came to the topic of interracial dating. These women’s thoughts centered on feeling like the mixing of races is ‘taking away blackness’ and a form of hating your own race.
There was a brief reprieve when it came to Winnie Harlow stating that no matter the race, good or bad depends on the person but the air was tense. The popular sayings of ‘black love should stay black love,’ and ‘if they can’t use your comb don’t take them home,’ reared their heads along with others.
I felt hurt.
I felt isolated.
In this room that I just felt a sense of sisterhood, I once again felt like my younger self, like I wasn’t seen as enough.
Despite that, this time I wanted to stand up in honor of my younger self that didn’t have the strength and confidence to do it. I also wanted to stand up for any other mixed person who may run across this conversation and feel like I was feeling.
I gathered my courage, stood up, and pushed through my hurt to let these women and anyone who thought like them to see how their viewpoints hurt and discounts those like me.
I asserted that despite not fitting into the box of what is expected for a Black or Mexican woman, I AM ENOUGH! (You can watch the full “Love” episode of Black Women Own the Conversation here. My part is around 19 minutes.)
Taking that stand was one of the hardest things for me to do and I cried heavily at the release of my pent up pain and hurt from not only their words but what I still held onto from the past.
After the filming was over, some of the women congratulated me for speaking my truth. I felt raw for exposing my truth like that but glad I did. One woman told me she never considered Black mixing with another minority!
When I got home, I told my parents about my experience. My mom told me teary eyed that she never wanted things to be hard for me, she just loved my dad. My father said he was proud that I spoke up.
My best friend said she was proud of me too. I told them all I was embarrassed I cried! However, they all reassured me that I shouldn’t be embarrassed because I was expressing my heartfelt emotions.
A full year later I found out that I was considered part of an Emmy win for the series! Which goes to show you that you should always speak your truth, no matter how hard it may be.
To my fellow biracial/mixed people, You are ENOUGH, no matter what others may say. You have a right to claim whatever you are mixed with without having to discount it. You have nothing to prove to anyone and no one has a right to make you feel like you are anything less. Even though you may not fit into the box or look that is expected, your personal Venn diagram is wonderful and beautiful.