The Challenges of Being Biracial: A Column

By Jordyn Kamara

The most frequently asked question I get is, “so what are you?” 

But it’s much more than appearing half white, and half black. My identity traces back to where my family originates:  Portugal, Germany, Ireland, Africa, and Trinidad. Navigating this world as a person of “mixed-race” is fascinating to say the least. However, understanding where I belong in this world, continues to be difficult. Identity crises are very common among people of mixed race. Throughout my life I felt as though I never fit in fully with my white friends or black friends. 

“Identity is understanding who we are in the world,” writes Kerry Ann Rockquemore, co-author of Beyond Black: Biracial Identity in America. “Part of that is how others understand us, and the other part is how we understand ourselves.” 

Acknowledging that you aren’t “too black” for your white friends and “too white” for your black friends is a part of learning who you are. Biracial people are always faced with a choice. Which half of yourself do you like better? For me, that means either embracing my naturally curly hair or choosing to straighten it every day. I notice that I am perceived differently when my hair is different. 

“Nearly two-thirds of people with a mixed-race background do not identify as multi- or biracial, according to a Pew Research Center study of Americans with at least two races in their background.

Despite my skin color being brown I choose to identify as biracial. I’m proud to have a white mother and a black father. My parents experienced all kinds of hate when they first began dating. My Mom and Dad were in their 20s on a picnic date  in a predominantly white town. Surrounded by white people my dad felt uneasy with the looks and comments they were receiving. They eventually left due to my dad’s uncomfort and continued their date elsewhere. They eventually had to come to terms with the fact that not everyone would accept their love and move on from it. 

According to an article from Today Magazine, “Public outrage erupted when Old Navy released an ad featuring a white male, a black female and a mixed-race child. Twitter users claimed that Old Navy supported “genocide of the white race,” and called the ad “absolutely disgusting.” 

In this day and age, it is important to normalize interracial relationships. Regardless of all the hate in the world, there is a vast amount of diversity when it comes to dating. It’s only been 50 years since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage. 

Yet, people continue to discriminate against it.

As diversity grows every day, people will be forced to accept interracial couples as well as biracial children who face adversity in all aspects of life. Mixed kids will eventually be the majority of the population, and there will be no room for judgment. 

As I grew older I embraced my blackness more. I learned there is more to me than my appearance and what I am made up of. I embrace my African and Trinidadian roots as well as my Portuguese, German, and Irish roots. 

Skin color is only one aspect of someone’s identity. Only love can drive out hate. 

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