I Wish My Mom Was a Little More "Black"
"Well, I feel like I don't have a "Black" mother. She's half black/half white. She was raised by her white mother and was around her white family. Even though she had black step dad's I don't think she was cultured. She just doesn't get it. Sometimes she'll share stories of how she felt racism and people excluding her, but she acts as if it just happened to her, not her people. My father is black (The mixed up down the line kind) and I grew up having a black step mom and spent a lot of time with her family. I was able to be cultured. Baby shower BBQs, early 90s rap music, getting cornrows on my aunties porch in LA during the summer, we went to the MLK march in downtown LA. I used to feel out of place because I had black friends tease me for being mixed. My mother still says things like "You just want to be black so bad" I'm not sure what that means. With everything happening in this world, it's like she doesn't even notice it. She's always been a brush everything underneath the rug, don't focus on the negativity type of person. However, I'd rather own up to the issues happening and address them. My mother has a mindset of if it doesn't stop her money than it's not a problem. That's good for minor issues but not when your country is on the brink of civil war. I dont have the long straight hair features she has. I can't "pass" and turn the other cheek. I have to be black. I don't have a choice. I can't go to her about advice on how to be a black woman. Something I wish I had a black mother for." - Anonymous
What are the pros and cons of coming from a mixed family? The pros are being cultured and understanding different ways of lives. The cons, for me, were definitely the racist thought process. I was telling a story to some adults and one of them said "her grandmother is white" and rolled her eyes. As a kid at the time I didn't understand why it was a negative thing. Judgments from black friends hurt and ultimately led to identity issues.
Do you often feel like you have to choose which culture you want to identify with the most? I don't feel I have to choose only one because I'm mostly black. However, black people make me choose whether or not I will identity with being white. For example, once they know I'm mixed, they will challenge me in order to get me to denounce being mixed with white. Which doesn't make sense because clearly my features show some mixture, if they didn't, they would have never asked if I was mixed in the first place.
When it comes to racism does your mom have a different view point from you? Please explain. Yes. My mother explains having dealt with racism in her past, however she says she doesn't have those experiences now. She says she doesn't feel excluded or that she's missed opportunity just because she's black. She also doesn't agree that being a black women is hard. For her racism would have to be direct to her face, she once said that her neighbors were giving kids treats, her brother(who is white) got one. When she walked up they denied her, because she was black. This is the only way she interprets oppression.
When it comes to job applications and other situations that require paperwork, how do you identify yourself? Do you wish there were other options? When it comes to anything that requires me entering in my race I usually opt out, if I can't opt out, I put two or more races. This is not me denying being black. It's me refusing to identify when and where slaves were taken and who's blood is in my veins. The idea that people have to tell you who their grandparents slept with, and how much melanin they have to get a job is absurd. That system allows for racism on the other end.
Have you vented to your dad about the troubles you have with your mom’s perspectives on culture?
My father is very proud to be black. It is hard for him to understand my "mixed girl problems.' I know I can't really look to him for advice. However he has told me not to care about other people's opinions and that he was on me so I would be prepared for the real world.
When your mom makes comments like “You want to be black so bad” how does that make you feel? Identity issues have really taken their toll on me. So when my mom or anyone in my family makes comments about my behavior relating to my race, it sucks. There's no handbook on how to be more than one race. You often hear phrases like "black people don't do that." or "that's white people stuff" Our behaviors and interests should never be linked to our race, for this reason. It hurts when someone challenges who I am as a person.
Do you think she realizes how that comment can be offensive? She doesn't have empathy. She either doesn't realize her how hurtful her comments are, or she does and that's why she chooses to say them. Her defense mechanism is really offense. She sees us emotional and sensitive when anything she says hurts us.
Have you had a heart to heart talk with her? Those usually result in her getting defensive and saying things like "here we go, I'm the worst mother in the world" If I start crying everything I'm saying might as well be useless.
How does your mom’s side of the family gravitate to you? Her immediate family is close except her brother. My grandmother loved us but her and I weren't that close. I used to think she didn't like me. My grandmother's side of the family used to have us over and they come around for big events. A couple of them are only a phone call away.
What have you done to try to heal from this situation? Honestly, accepting that being black is marvelous and being mixed is not a sin. I had to understand that no matter what anyone thinks of me even my family and my ethnicity is no one's toy or punch line.
What advice can you give to someone else who has been faced with this situation?
My advice would be to remember who you are and don't let others define you. God blessed me with an abundance of family and if one person tries to get me down there are plenty of others to pick me up. Stay focused on your identity, and being a good person. Sometimes the strength you have in your identity brings out the insecurities in others.