Newly Minted

Newly Minted
Right after I was hooded

Friday, July 29, 2011

How I Became Mixed Race... A reflection

How I Became Mixed Race
• When I was three months old a white family adopted me. They had requested a hard to place child. When my mother asked what my disability was, they told her I was biracial.
• When I was one and a half my parents told me I was adopted. They didn’t tell me because they wanted me to know the truth about my adoption. They were telling me because we were different colors and they didn’t want OTHER people telling me I was adopted. I thought they were telling me I didn’t belong to them.
• When I was four the only black people on TV were the woman on Sesame Street, Wheezy on the Jeffersons, and the mother on Good Times. I didn’t look like any of them. I wanted to be a Charlie’s Angel.
• When I was five I went with my mother, who is white, to replace all of our fire extinguishers. The man at the store asked her if I was a fresh air child and when I was going back. My mother told him I was her daughter and I was filled with pride.
• When I was six they told my mother I was retarded. We later found out, I needed glasses.
• When I was seven they called me a Zebra. When I was eight they called me salt and pepper.
• When I was nine I went to Denny’s with my mother, stepfather, and sister – all of whom are white – when the waitress went to seat them, she physically blocked my path to keep me from following them into the restaurant.
• When I was ten I was chased across the playground by a classmate – a white boy from a reportedly poor and abusive family – who trapped my friend – a black boy from an affluent family and me against a fence and stoned us while calling us niggers. The principal made him apologize.
• When I was 11, I fell in love for the first time. I thought he didn’t like me because I was a tom boy. When we played wedding at school, I was always the priest.
• When I was 12, my nickname was dictionary breath.
• When I was 13, they called me nigger. I was tall, skinny, and ugly so I believed them. I didn’t know what a nigger was. We were in Catholic school.
• When I was 14, I got beat up by a black girl because she told me I was too white. That girl married a white man and has children who look just like me.
• When I was 15, I was told that I didn’t talk black.
• When I was 16, I was told that I was a very nice black girl and that we could be friends but that his grandmother would kill him if he ever dated a black girl.
• When I was 17, my boyfriend made me duck down on the floor of the car so no one would tell his mother he was dating a black girl. He assured me it would kill her. I wish it had.
• When I was 18, I went to prom alone.
• When I was 19, my nickname was white bitch.
• When I was 20, I had my first son out of wedlock with a mixed race boy who identified as white – not because he didn’t want to be black but because that is what his white grandparents told him he was.
• When I was 21, I was told that I didn’t act black. I was told “you think you white”.
• When I was 22, I stopped checking the black box and made my own
• When I was 23, my second son’s father abandoned me because I was pregnant with his child. His parents hated blacks and didn’t want any in the family. I had to go on welfare to support my children and myself. Then I went to college.
• When I was 24, a woman of color told me that if she had a child that light, she wouldn’t have kept him.
• When I was 25, I asked my boyfriend if he had warned his parents that I was black. He asked me why. Then he told me that it didn’t matter, his family was Irish. Four years later, he married me.
• When I was 26, I realized for the first time that I was beautiful.
• When I was 27, I started doing all of my shopping in a suit.
• When I was 28, I became a general manager. My store manager told me she liked me even though I was black. I didn’t like her and it had nothing to do with her being white.
• When I was 29, I got married to that Irish man. It was the year before that the last law banning mixed race marriages was repealed in the United States. I couldn’t have gotten married in Alabama… shucks.
• When I was 30, I got my hair braided for the first time. My employee told me she liked it better “the other way”.
• When I was 31, I had a daughter with blond hair and blue-green Irish eyes. I was accused of wet-nursing a white child.
• When I was 32, I stopped laughing at black jokes.
• When I was 33, our neighbor told my husband and me he didn’t mind that we were salt and pepper.
• When I was 34, I listened to my sons and their mixed race friends count how many mono-racial people were in the car based on all the 1/2s and 1/4s they occupied as mixed race children. They never got the count right.
• When I was 35, I tried to register my daughter for school. They wouldn’t let me register her without picking a race for her. The form didn’t offer a race that represented my daughter or our family. The school registered her as white.
• When I was 36, I found out that my sons had been racially re-categorized by the school district from other to black and Latino. No one asked us what our children were.
• When I was 37, I started graduate school and realized that the thing I was most passionate about was mixed race. I started identifying as mixed race. A student in one of my graduate school courses attacked me for saying I am ethnically biracial and have a white middle class culture. She told me my white mother never really love me nor could she because I was black.
• When I was 38 my teenage sons find it funny when going to Red Lobster to see how many of us the waitress tries to sit together. My oldest son told one waitress after she tried to seat them without me “yeah, the darkie is with us”. The waitress was appropriately mortified, my son was not.
• When I was 40 my daughter became obsessed with Zebra. Everything she owns is zebra. The irony is killing me.
• Today, I am 41 and I passed a confederate flag on the way to the college I work at as a diversity officer.
• Right now, I know it is my experiences of never fitting in any mono-racial/cultural space that makes me mixed race. The fact that I recognize myself as my white mother’s child, my father’s black daughter, my husband’s inter-racial wife, my beige and white children’s mother, is what makes me mixed race. What else could I possibly be? To be anything else would be to give up one of these things. Which would you have me caste away to fit in that mono-racial space?


  1. This not only brought tears to my eyes but also has gave me even more reason to take pride in being mixed race.You have a lovely family!!!!! God bless you as well as them. I ♥ to see happy mixed race families!!!!!!

  2. Just discovered your blog. I love it :-) Please keep sharing!

  3. although i am not mixed race i can relate to some of the events that you have went through