I love race. Stop-and-frisk, the African Diaspora, Kimye; you name it, I’m there.
But as much as I love debating post racial America in the Age of Obama, there are uncharted territories. As a black woman I know all too well about discrimination, isolation and misconstrued perceptions of beauty. However after some very in-depth conversations with a few close friends, who happen to be biracial, I realized I wasn’t quite the race connoisseur I prided myself to be.
While I’m sure if I search my genealogy tree long enough I’m bound to find a hint of something other than “Black” or “African-American,” as someone who identifies as a full-bred black woman I don’t pretend to know the first thing about what it’s like to be born to parents of different racial backgrounds or all the psycho- and sociological bells and whistles that oftentimes come with being multicultural. Sure I can empathize and watch CNN specials all day, but when it comes down to it, there are some blanks I’m just not equipped to fill in. All minorities were not made alike and biracials have their own set of problems, stereotypes and social stigmas that I regretfully wasn’t aware of.
So, after doing some digging and conversing with my favorite biculturals, I compiled this list of pertinent takeaways. No this isn’t my attempt to explain the plight of the “tragic mulatto” or create my very own Black Like Me experience; rather these are takeaways, insightful and sometimes comical revelations made to someone who thought she knew everything about race. From hair etiquette and dating, to the cringe-worthy, racial ambiguity game, here are a few of the more notable tidbits.
1. All hair is not “good” hair.”
As one friend put it, “I can pretty much predict the weather based on my hair.”
2. Let’s not play the “Guess the Race” game.
A tactful inquiry goes a long way.
3. Parents don’t always look like parents.
Us full-breeds don’t help the situation with our quizzical looks and “That can’t be your mom/dad” comments at the school Christmas assembly.
4. “Exotic” is a common descriptor but may not always be the best adjective.
As another friend put it, “Exotic means foreign or unusual. I’m from Chicago and play soccer.”
5. Nicknames like half-breed, mutt, Oreo, Skittles, etc. aren’t cool.
6. Light-skinned, biracial and Latina are not the same thing.
So assuming one is the same is not cool!
7. It’s really annoying to select “other” on an application when your complete racial make-up is on the form but you can only “select one.”
You can’t just cover all the bases with one check box!
8. Joining an ethnicity based college group can be quite the challenge.
Apparently joining the Black Student Union when you have dirty blonde hair and light brown eyes is kind of a big deal.
9. Finding mixed celebrities with similar racial make-ups is also a big deal.
If you’re out there and are a match to the Kourtney Kardashian/Scott Disick combo, you’re freaking amazing.
11. Just because someone dates a person from their less physically prominent side doesn’t mean they are denouncing the other side.
It worked for Paula Paton and Alicia Keys so carry on.
12. People never believe you when you explain your ethnicity.
On the list of racial microaggressions this is up there with, “You’re very [insert adjective] for a [insert race] person.”
13. Buying concealer is not fun.
Every tried matching paint swatches at Home Depot? Similar to us brown skin girls, try before you buy is an absolute must.
14. It’s a little annoying that Barack Obama has a white mother and Kenyan father, and is the first black president.
Gotta love the one-drop rule.
15. The Cheerios commercial is awesome.
This post originally appeared on Mixed Nation.