Wednesday, July 6, 2016
On Mixed Racial Identity and Blogging
On the one hand, I just don't think about my ethnic background that often and if I'm not thinking about something, I'm not writing about it either. I'm clearly not white, but I'm also a biracial woman that doesn't fit the average non-black person's mental picture of what a black woman looks like or acts like. Because of this, I tend to go through my life without having to think much about my race, just like white people do.
I don't look so different from Seth that people stop and stare at us when we walk down the street or wonder how on earth we even wound up together. I more or less measure up to the going American standard of what female beauty is "supposed" to be -- long hair that flows, light skin, and refined, stereotypically feminine facial features. There are apparently even people out there that miss the fact that I'm black altogether, as they express complete surprise when I tell them or if they find out some other way, as when my ex-husband met my parents for the first time.
In a manner of speaking, I'm probably lucky because I get to sidestep a lot of the problems and discrimination that my darker friends have to deal with. On the other hand, not having to create my life around my ethnicity has meant that I haven't developed the same strong racial identity most of my black friends have. I think about being a woman every day. I think about being a writer every day. I think about being an introvert every day. I rarely to never think about being black. Only when something or someone calls my attention to it, which really isn't all that often.
This didn't use to bother me, as I once truly thought race shouldn't matter or be important to people. Part of this is upbringing, as neither of my parents wanted my brother or me thinking of ourselves as different from anyone else. Like many young people, fitting in was the most important thing to me for a long time, so pretending I was no different from anyone else suited me just fine. But recent years have found me much more interested in connecting with where I come from and learning who my ancestors were. I know lots about the Irish and Scottish parts of my heritage, as I've been encouraged to connect with those. As an adult, I've also been strongly encouraged by my dad to connect and identify with my Native American blood.
This has not, however, been the case when it comes to my blackness. That was simply ignored and treated like it doesn't exist and I'm realizing that I've been conditioned to think there's something wrong with being proud to be black as a result. I've been taught to ignore my own blackness simply because I can. Beginning to consciously embrace, connect with, and identify with my own blackness -- especially with Seth's encouragement -- has been wonderful. I've been unlearning a lot of the negative conditioning I grew up with as a result and there's a wholeness that's coming about because of that.
That said, it occurs to me that it should be more obvious I'm a mixed race blogger and a black blogger. Not because I look black or fit society's stereotypes of what a black woman is like, but because I talk about it, reflect on it, and make it a point to acknowledge it in ways that make sense to me. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes of that going forward into the future.