“Which Parent is White?”

You, as an individual, have every right to be curious about the people around you. Questions are always welcome. However, how you ask them, can have consequences of negatively affecting the person you’re asking.

I have lost count of the amount of times someone has asked me “Which parent is white?” when asking me about my racial background. Normally I calmly respond how both of my parents are mixed race, and I still do, but I’ve come to realize the issues with that particular question.

  1. The assumption that every mixed race person, particularly a light-skinned mixed race person, has a white parent.
  2. The assumption that every mixed race person has white descent in general, whether they are light-skinned or dark-skinned.

Both of my parents have white descent, therefore, I happen to have white descent, but placing mixed race identity in a simple binary isn’t good because every mixed race person is has a variety of mixes and backgrounds.

Moreover, when people ask which parent is white, it comes across as if multiracial identity is beautiful only if whiteness is somewhere in the mix. That’s not cool.

I love conversations where people ask “How do you identify?” instead of immediately asking “Which parent is white?” I love conversations where people ask me what growing up was like in the backgrounds I identify with, instead of probing at how “exotic” I am because of blackness mixed with whiteness.

Just food for thought. Let me know what you think.

Awesome Update II

Over a month ago, I submitted a video to the YouTube channel The 100% Mixed Show, a channel that provides content about mixed race identity and mixed race issues. In my video, I followed the format of their #Mixstory guidelines, where I talked about growing up multiracial, the good things about being mixed, the hard things.

Fortunately, that encouraged my sister to want to submit her own #Mixstory to the channel. I was so glad to help her record her and submit the video for her. Check out her story below! I’m so proud of her!

Published (V) and an Awesome Update

This year is my second year published in my university’s Expressions Magazine, a literary/arts magazine representing minorities on campus. The issues keep getting better and better, and I have more pieces in it this year! Yes! There are some pieces you guys may recognize, such as “Girl at Mirror” and “Enough.” I decided to submit those two poems. I also submitted a poem called “Living with Depression” that I will upload on here eventually, and a short story called “What Are You?” which I will upload as well. It’s a really good semester, being published a lot. I’m really proud of myself.

I’m also proud of being part of an ongoing project called The 100% Mixed Show. It’s a YouTube channel that accepts video submissions about various people from around the world growing up mixed race. Other videos on there about questions about mixed race heritage are on their channel as well. Here is my submission, if you would like to check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxzcxsLHRpc. Also, check out other people’s stories! And, if you would like to submit, the guidelines are right here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVRQ4g2YU98 (if you’re worried about editing, they can edit it for you).

I’m gonna make a post about another publication, which you will have to find out more about by reading that post once it’s out.

It’s been a pretty good few weeks.

Being Christian and Multiracial

Growing up, my father with African American and Native American descent and my mother with European American and African American descent raised me; mostly my mother raised me, since they divorced when I was five. Nevertheless, both are Christian, so I was raised in the Christian faith. A popular question I often receive as a Christian woman, especially in an environment were there are people of multiple religious affiliations, and of non-religious affiliations, is regarding the mark of white supremacy in Christianity’s history. Why do I identify with a religion that had people who oppressed my descendants of color?

Africa has such a rich background in its culture and tribal religions, but during the time of slavery, the African diaspora had to assimilate to English, Christian dogma, and no longer being free. Native American mysticism and gender fluidity has especially been damaged due to colonialism, assimilation, and exile. During the Vietnam War, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk burned himself alive because of the horrific acts of Christian oppression. When the British invaded India, proselytizing was an act forced upon its citizens. All of these moments listed and more are needed information to point out, yet it is often ignored when studying Christianity, whether through a devotional lens or a scholarly lens.

I grew up attending traditional white non-denominational churches and traditional black Baptist churches. In both traditional settings, there’s often the need to not question. Do not look at outside sources, because the Bible should be the only text needed for spiritual growth. And the Bible details great proof of diversity, various tribes in various cities, but most churches do not value that part of Scripture. How could I have appreciated Christianity with the disputes over whether Jesus was white or black? How could I have appreciated the faith the pushed love and acceptance when it was shown to me through closeted mindsets?

It wasn’t until college where I grew to appreciate black churches. African Americans have taken Christianity and turned it into their own. Formally an act of persecution, it became an act of celebration and inspiration. African American culture is responsible for the evolution of gospel music and interpretive dance through the worship of Jesus. It has inspired heroes such as Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King, Jr. to improve social conditions. It made me realize the joy and excitement from my culture. I also joined InterVarsity, a Christian campus ministry, and it was originally a predominantly white ministry that later understood the importance of diversity in order to create an open space for multi-ethnicity and Jesus’ teachings and grace. InterVarsity is becoming a place for all racial backgrounds, including white, black, and even mixed-race backgrounds.

Furthermore, Jesus Christ didn’t compartmentalize his identity of being born of a human mother and a godly father, He identified as fully God and fully Man, labels of privilege and lack of privilege.

Despite the amount of openness Christianity has had to offer spiritually and culturally, unfortunately, it is still not seen as an open form of faith. The majority of people in political office right now are Protestant and white, for example. When some white Christians are asked to stand with their brothers and sisters of color for social justice they have the privilege to say “I don’t think God is calling me to that right now.” With the facet of proselytizing, Christians are often viewed as exclusive, another popular view of whiteness.

It wasn’t easy identifying with all of my backgrounds. And it also wasn’t easy to come to terms with them when relating to my faith. However, I am still proud of how the Christian faith calls me to be uncomfortable in order to push for reconciliation in my community, and hopefully my world. Yes, multiracial identity can be seen as a symbol for racial harmony in of itself, but when looking beyond the externalities, being a Christian also helps me strive for reconciliation in our society and to be open to other cultural perspectives.

The Good Samaritan story is a parable Jesus tells of a man of a different race and different religion that helps a man different from him on the side of the road. If that isn’t a symbol of reconciliation in Christianity, I don’t know what else can be stronger than that.

Poem: Enough

Dear conservative media,

I understand you guys get a bad rap at times,

But this time,

You went too far.

Tired of hearing from angry minorities?

Then you shouldn’t be hurting our own.

You’re the reason why kids like me felt

The obligation of choosing one facet of myself

Over another.

A game of Connect Four on the concept of

Race if you will.

“Which color goes through which slot?”

When did you choose Shaun King

As your new target?

Apparently your outlets are knowledgeable enough

To talk about people of color well.

Apparently you’re validated in comparing

Shaun King to Rachel Dolezal.

Weren’t you just defending her last week?

You’re part of the reason why mixed people

Don’t feel welcome to the table to stand up

For black lives.

You’re the whole reason why the One Drop Rule

Is still a thing.

A rule ingrained in unwritten social textbooks that

People forget need to be closed.

Shaun King’s voice is needed in this movement

You try so hard to be rid of.

He can speak on why majority and minority

Must collaborate in order to live in the free world

You attempt to call “post racial.”

Conservative media,

What the heck is “post racial”?

In terms of Team Color Blind,

Just because you see no evil,

It doesn’t mean there is no evil.

It regurgitates the need to compartmentalize

Our identity by saying we’re not enough.

Black enough, White enough,

Mixed enough, This enough,

Enough is enough, dear outlets.

Enough!

Dear Shaun King,

Your blog on growing mixed

Moved me to tears.

And you’re amazing for fighting against

Police brutality after false accusations

Tell you not to.

Thank you for pushing people like me to join

The conversation.

Thank you for not excluding anyone from this

Great roundtable of knights people only hear about

In fairytales.

Social justice can soon no longer be a fairytale.

So, dear conservative media…

Nice try.

Poem: Tips on Dating a Biracial Woman

Tip One:

Know that every biracial experience is

Different.

Various people

With various cultures

In this melting pot of a world that

Many refuse

To have a taste of.

This is only an experience of one

With black, white, and native descent.

Tip Two:

Let it be know that you are the only designated person

Allowed to touch my hair.

It took a while to let these roots grow proudly

After many either wanting them

To be straight,

Or wanting to invade them

With their non-gardening fingers.

Moreover,

I prefer you touch my hair while we’re intimate.

Tip Three:

We will not be discussing

“Which race I prefer dating.”

It equates the discussion

“Which race I am the closest to,”

As if to show one form of pure commitment.

I can’t just flip the coin

When both sides are better than one.

Tip Four:

Don’t expect me not to question our relationship

If you turn our attraction into a fetish.

A speculation of “exotic beauty”

To take advantage of.

I am more than conspicuous ambiguity.

Tip Five:

Letting your tongue trip into

“I’m not racist, but…”

Proves you’re not worth my time.

You’re supposed to be proof of the clock

Moving forward.

Not backward.

Tip Six:

Yes, my family is very colorful.

Mm hmm…

Now stop staring.

Tip Seven:

Talk to me.

Tip Eight:

Talk to me.

Tip Nine:

Talk to me!

Ask me what growing up was like.

Ask me how

Baltimore and Charleston

Affects me.

Ask me about

Privileges

And lack of privileges

Running through my veins to be

Poured out

Into my every day life.

Ask me about the other things that

Make me different

Besides my racial background.

Tip Ten:

Know that I know

That you are not perfect.

Know that I know

That no man is perfect.

But lack of perfection

Doesn’t excuse you from the act of

Trying.

You should figure out that

I am worth more than lack of effort.

Stream of Consciousness 3

I really need this:

There is not enough representation of biracial people in the media, and not enough representation of multiracial people either; and I am not only speaking about those mixed with black and white. I have European American, African American, and Native American descent; my mother identifies as biracial (black and white) in most situations and my father identifies as black in most situations. There are those who believe that Mixed people are ill-equipped to speak on certain issues for communities of color. Then there is the dilemma of having to choose one facet of one’s self when they don’t. There is a difference between identifying as one part because of being more comfortable with it, and just choosing one part in order to hide other parts to be comfortable. Personally, I’m not comfortable with just identifying as one part of myself, because I felt that I had to do that when I was younger out of obligation. A tricky word: comfortable. It’s interesting, the words people have come up with for mixed people: mulatto, hapa, black bean, race traitor. There are websites that explain all kinds of words, positive and negative, many even really outdated, for mixed race individuals. Let me make this clear: I do not see myself as a “tragic mulatto.” No one should say mulatto anymore and nothing about my racial identity is tragic. I mesh well with both black and white relatives. I now know that who I am is not a curse. I also don’t enjoy it when people ask whether or not I hate white people. Just because I care about social justice, it doesn’t mean that I hate white people. Why should I hate a part of who I am? Don’t ask me if I prefer white men or black men to date in the rudest way possible. I do find it fascinating to talk about hair products, but, again, don’t be rude about it. I would like to see more media platforms talk about mixed people with mixed parents like me. It’s usually one parent is only this, and one parent is only that. It’s sometimes hard to write something down in a more creative way about my experience. The Girl at Mirror poem on here and something I wrote for a solo performance class were the closest things I got. I want to write a novel about it. And it’s not the multiracial experience, it’s only a multiracial experience. It’s never great to generalize a whole people. It’s never healthy to generalize a whole people. I get really excited when I meet a group of people who identify as mixed outside of my family. I saw this blog recently: http://www.vox.com/2015/3/11/8182263/biracial-identity and it was a joy to read. I have some mixed views about the sixth point made, but it’s still great.

That felt really nice.