I of course cannot speak for every mixed girl in the world, but I think most mixed people would say that they feel that they are constantly having to explain themselves and how they identify. It reminds me of Edward James Olmos in the movie Selena when he is explaining what it’s like to be Mexican-American. “Being Mexican American is tough. Anglos jump all over you if you don’t speak English perfectly. Mexicans jump all over you if you don’t speak Spanish perfectly. We have to be twice as perfect as anybody else. We have to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans, both at the same time.”
That is similar to how I feel about being mixed. It’s a constant game of proving you’re black enough, etc. and it’s exhausting! When most think mixed race, we automatically think biracial. But not everyone is biracial and I’m not going to talk about the biracial experience today. I want to discuss a less told story, identifying as multiracial. I’m black, Mexican and Native. Three different ethnicities and cultures, and each one has treated me like I don’t belong and I constantly have to prove myself all the time. Growing up was a challenge. Kids can be so cruel and I was trying to figure out who I was as most kids do. To add to that, as a mixed girl I was constantly messed with because of it. Black kids (specifically black girls) told me that I wasn’t black enough and I needed to hang with the Mexicans. I literally would get into fights with black girls because of my hair and skin tone. I’m well aware that society sadly views mixed girls as more beautiful than black girls. I believe that is why I had such a hard time with black girls while growing up. Looking back, I didn’t understand this at the time. I just thought black girls hated me because I was mixed, which was a really big pill to swallow.
My experiences with Mexicans were similar to black folks. I have a Hispanic last name that I was constantly challenged on. Everyone wanted me to explain why I had this Spanish last name. From there, it was do you speak Spanish? If you said you did, you better be ready to answer more questions in Spanish to prove that you’re a Latina and really do speak Spanish. Once that was done, then came the geography test. Where are you from? California. No, where are you really from? Where in Mexico is your family from? Have you been to Mexico? Have you been anywhere besides tourist places. I bet you don’t know who Selena is (90’s kid here.) Oh, you do. What about Vicente Fernandez? The funny thing is, this still happens to me today as an adult. LOL. Talk about drama right? Or, I’m told that I must be Dominican or Puerto Rican. That’s why I speak Spanish. Is it not possible for a girl to be black and Mexican, sheesh. (Look out for another blog on this)
Then there is my Native side that I don’t know about. I wasn’t in contact with this side of my family, so I have no idea what tribe my family is from. I know I had a grandparent that was full blooded Native but that’s it. I’ve always felt a connection to the culture, which is more frustrating to me because I don’t know that side of me. So, I try to do my own thing when it comes to my Native side and learn on my own about the culture and the many tribes.
Looking back I see how the media and its beauty standards divided even children. I had such a hard time learning to accept myself not because I saw anything wrong with myself but because the world outside of me seemed to see something disturbing about my ethnic background and felt the need to label me for their own comfort. Even today, I have had people tell me that I am not correctly identifying myself and that I should identify as an Afro Latina even though my people are not Afro Latino, they are natives, Africans and Latinos from different countries and cultures that reside in America. Why do we feel the need to label others? What is threatening about someone just being multiracial? The world is diverse so why can’t a person be?