Who knew a reality show on Bravo would force me to think so hard about my racial identity? I've always been me. I'll always be mixed. But to me, I'm finding it easier these days to identify with one race instead of both. If you watch Real Housewives of Potomac, you can see that Katie (a mixed woman) more often identifies with her white side, although she is part of a social group of black women. She is a practicing Jew, she dates a white man, and from the outside, it seems she's doing everything she can to appear more white. I'm not talking about bleaching her skin or hair, but she seems to participate in a lifestyle that is, for lack of a better term, very white. It's clear that she doesn't embrace being mixed, but to her credit, it's not an easy thing to do. In contrast, Ashley, who is also mixed, seems to identify as black (she grew up with a black single mother). Both of these women had entirely different upbringings that have seriously influened the way they carry themselves today. It's interesting to watch.
So how does this circle back to me? First, it's way easier to get into the deep stuff by talking about reality television. My entire life I grew up with white friends, in white neighborhoods, and was rarely forced to think about my racial identity. When I went off to college, I got grouped in with the black people. I started hanging out with black girls, went to black parties, and sat in the black section of the student union. I had experiences, good and bad, that changed my outlook on race forever.
Today I can see the purpose that drives the Black Lives Matter movement, I sympathize with blacks in technology, and I live my life as a "black woman". It's complicated though. When black women ask if my hair is natural, I pause (naturalistas will understand). Am I really natural? I'm mixed so does it count? I can't check off just one box on forms without counting out my own mother. So can I identify as a black woman without pissing off the real black women or alienating one half of my entire family? I don't know. #QTNA
Identifying as mixed can be great, but also comes with its cons. Being objectified by men in both the white and black communities. Being a taboo. Not having a "community". Regardless of how I label myself, mixed I will always be. Don't get me wrong. Growing up mixed in this day and age has been the most unique experience and has absolutely contributed to who I am today. I see things a bit differently. I see the world through a different set of eyes. Anyone who is mixed knows what a beautiful gift it is to come from two very, very different parents. They also know it's hard. Inexplicably hard.
To be continued.
Look at us.