Growing up biracial, I would say I was a bit confused on how to identify myself. My mother is white and my father is black. Although interracial dating is accepted today (somewhat) and a lot more common, that doesn’t erase the history that comes with it.
I remember being the only student of color in my all white elementary school. Even with my fair skin, I had big curly hair (or my mom would braid my hair in two pigtail braids), and big brown eyes.
I just didn’t feel that I fit in. I use to wish I had straight hair and blue eyes like my classmates and like my mother. I remember asking my mom to pick me up from school and not wanting my father to pick me up because I didn’t want people to see I had a black dad. I wanted to show them I was just like them. White. The days when my dad would pick me up from school I remember telling him I would meet him around the corner. These were my thoughts and feelings in 1st through 3rd grade!
Throughout middle school and high school, although I always had a diverse group of friends, and before “two or more races” was an option when filling out paperwork, I identified as black. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my Caucasian side dearly, however, I was more in touch with my African American family and friends. Even so, I remember being in certain situations where I felt I was “too black” for some white groups of people or “too white” for some black groups. I was honestly just confused by society’s social standards (but that’s a completely different story). My junior year of college my professor put together a DNA project to help students learn their genetic breakdown and understand diversity in a way to help connect people instead of looking at differences. I participated and took the DNA test and was surprised when my results showed me to be 89 percent African! Being biracial with a white mother, I definitely didn't expect such a high percentage. I plan on looking into this more in the future, but for now I am running with it!
Fast forward to today, I finally have no hesitation identifying as African American and I am VERY PROUD of that! I’ve been able to experience the history of our first black president, who is indeed biracial himself. I’ve been blessed to receive academic scholarships to pay for my tuition in college through the Board of Governs Scholarship for students with diverse backgrounds.
On a more personal level, I've been blessed to be raised by amazing black grandparents. I have one black grandfather who served in the Navy and later became Vice President and General Manager of Admiral Cleaners for over 20 years, in the predominantly white city of Annapolis, Maryland. I have another grandfather who was in the Air Force and later opened a group home ministry and an alternative education school. He became a successful black business man in the small city of York, PA, grossing over 2 million. Last, but not least, a black grandmother who was an amazing elementary school teacher for over 30 years during a time when being a black school teacher was frowned upon in a predominantly white school district in Maryland. She also had a Bachelor's and Master’s degree herself. It is because of her and the foundation that she instilled in me today that I have also received my bachelor's and master's degree.
As I reflect during this Black History Month, I can say these amazing people in my life have influenced me to make it a point each and every day to take advantage of the opportunities in front of me. To never give up. To continue being a leader and knocking down doors despite hearing the words NO!
I wish I could go back in time and tell my young 1st grade self that it was okay for me to have different color skin and hair than my classmates. That it was okay to have my father pick me up in front of the school because having a black father is something to be proud of. That it was okay to "stand out" and to embrace who I am like my mother always taught me. God always knew that little biracial girl would grow to become an educated black woman. I am thankful over the years I finally embraced that myself! Now, I walk in confidence, taking pride in exactly who I am, and taking advantage of the blueprints my amazing black grandparents have already laid out for me.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS