The Struggle For Identity Growing Up Biracial In America

My Struggle For Identity Growing Up Biracial

Who am I if both of my ethnicities say I am not enough?

jcrabb
jcrabb
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I've been struggling with what to write for my next article and finally decided I wanted to share a small glimpse into my biracial identity crisis. It definitely sounds more dramatic than it actually is, but I hope to share some insight on the biracial experience, something I don't personally hear often. I hope you enjoy!

Who Am I?

I am Jasmine Crabb, and I am a Korean American. A simple title, but it is one I am extremely proud of. My mother is Korean from the Southern Gyeongsangnam-do province, and my Father is Caucasian from Helena, Arkansas. I was born in Jinju City, Korea and moved to the States as a one-year-old, visiting Korea several times afterward. I grew up with intense Asian parenting amidst the background of a majority-white culture, which was a constant reminder of my mixed background (among other things).

Growing up, my mom taught me I was special and different as a bicultural kid, and for that, I should be proud. And I am, but the present culture for biracial kids doesn't always seem to agree I should be.

I Am Not Enough

Even though I am both Korean and American, neither ethnicities see me as one of their own. When I travel to Korea or interact with the Korean community, I am called "too American" to be seen as Korean, and in America, I am identified by my minority instead of my Asian and American combination.

For either of my ethnicities, I am not "enough" to be seen as one of them. Growing up and understanding that I was in this weird gray area of biologically being Asian and Caucasian but socially seen as neither left me confused on who I was. I would brag I was Korean American but in my heart know I didn't really see myself as either. This is the story for many biracial kids. Modern society judges us not only on our minority status which presents its own difficulties in an overly color-concerned society but furthermore, it also views us as a separate type of minority, one often ignored and outcasted because we do not fit the typical mold.

I like to tell the story of when I was interviewing for an honors program and in mentioning my biracial background, the interviewer responded saying my "racial hybridity" could bring interesting insight to the honors community. I laughed. My racial hybridity. I will never forget those words. Though he meant them harmlessly, the connotation of hybrid and its meaning towards my bicultural background made me understand I was seen differently as a minority because I was biracial. Moreover, while this is my own journey for self-identity, many other of my biracial friends agree there is a recurring theme of reluctant acceptance from our two ethnicities.

I know that throughout my personal journey of identity, I've felt lost, unwanted, and unsure because of this heavy understanding of not being seen as enough.

I Am Who I Say I Am

However, I am not here to complain about being biracial. I am here to say that biracial people have a story to tell too, and we struggle with a unique journey of identity that shouldn't be hidden from the world! I am so proud of who I am. I am slowly understanding that despite society saying I am not enough to be who I think I am, at the end of the day, I hold the power to determine my identity. I am who I say I am, and no one can take that away from me.

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I Am A Female And I Am So Over Feminists

I believe that I am a strong woman, but I also believe in a strong man.
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Beliefs are beliefs, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I'm all about girl power, but in today's world, it's getting shoved down our throats. Relax feminists, we're OK.

My inspiration actually came from a man (God forbid, a man has ideas these days). One afternoon my boyfriend was telling me about a discussion his class had regarding female sports and how TV stations air fewer female competitions than that of males. In a room where he and his other male classmate were completely outnumbered, he didn't have much say in the discussion.

Apparently, it was getting pretty heated in the room, and the women in the class were going on and on about how society is unfair to women in this aspect and that respect for the female population is shrinking relative to the male population.

If we're being frank here, it's a load of bull.

SEE ALSO: To The Women Who Hate Feminism

First of all, this is the 21st century. Women have never been more respected. Women have more rights in the United States than ever before. As far as sports go, TV stations are going to air the sports that get the most ratings. On a realistic level, how many women are turning on Sports Center in the middle of the day? Not enough for TV stations to make money. It's a business, not a boycott against female athletics.

Whatever happened to chivalry? Why is it so “old fashioned" to allow a man to do the dirty work or pay for meals? Feminists claim that this is a sign of disrespect, yet when a man offers to pick up the check or help fix a flat tire (aka being a gentleman), they become offended. It seems like a bit of a double standard to me. There is a distinct divide between both the mental and physical makeup of a male and female body. There is a reason for this. We are not equals. The male is made of more muscle mass, and the woman has a more efficient brain (I mean, I think that's pretty freaking awesome).

The male body is meant to endure more physical while the female is more delicate. So, quite frankly, at a certain point in life, there need to be restrictions on integrating the two. For example, during that same class discussion that I mentioned before, one of the young ladies in the room complained about how the NFL doesn't have female athletes. I mean, really? Can you imagine being tackled by a 220-pound linebacker? Of course not. Our bodies are different. It's not “inequality," it's just science.

And while I can understand the concern in regard to money and women making statistically less than men do, let's consider some historical facts. If we think about it, women branching out into the workforce is still relatively new in terms of history. Up until about the '80s or so, many women didn't work as much as they do now (no disrespect to the women that did work to provide for themselves and their families — you go ladies!). We are still climbing the charts in 2016.

Though there is still considered to be a glass ceiling for the working female, it's being shattered by the perseverance and strong mentality of women everywhere. So, let's stop blaming men and society for how we continue to “struggle" and praise the female gender for working hard to make a mark in today's workforce. We're doing a kick-ass job, let's stop the complaining.

I consider myself to be a very strong and independent female. But that doesn't mean that I feel the need to put down the opposite gender for every problem I endure. Not everything is a man's fault. Let's be realistic ladies, just as much as they are boneheads from time to time, we have the tendency to be a real pain in the tush.

It's a lot of give and take. We don't have to pretend we don't need our men every once in a while. It's OK to be vulnerable. Men and women are meant to complement one another — not to be equal or to over-power. The genders are meant to balance each other out. There's nothing wrong with it.

I am all for being a proud woman and having confidence in what I say and do. I believe in myself as a powerful female and human being. However, I don't believe that being a female entitles me to put down men and claim to be the “dominant" gender. There is no “dominant" gender. There's just men and women. Women and men. We coincide with each other, that's that.

Time to embrace it.

Cover Image Credit: chrisjohnbeckett / Flickr

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Dear Beautiful Black Girl, Never Forget Your Worth

An ode to all the beautiful black girls.

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We live in a society where societal standards greatly define the way we view ourselves. Although in 2019 these standards are not clear cut, some things are not easy to change. Not to play the race card, but this is true for women of color, especially black girls.

As much as I'd like to address this to all women, I want to hit on something that I'm more familiar with: being a black girl. Black females have a whole package to deal with when it comes to beauty standards. The past suppression and oppression our ancestors went through years ago can still be felt in our views of beauty. It is rare to see young black girls be taught that their afros and nappy hair are beautiful. Instead, we are put under flat irons and dangerous chemicals that change our hair texture as soon as our hair becomes too "complicated" to deal with. The girls with darker skin are not praised, but rather lowered in comparison to their peers with fairer skin. A lot of the conditioning happens at a young age — at the age of 8, already you can feel like you're in the wrong skin.

As we grow up, there are more expectations that come here and there, a lot of very stereotypical and diminishing. "You're a black girl, you should know how to dance," "black girls don't have flat butts," "black girls know how to cook," "you must have an attitude since you're black" — I'm sure you get the idea. Let me say this: "black girls," as they all like to say, are not manufactured with presets. Stop looking for the same things in all of us. Black girls come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and talents. I understand that a lot of these come from cultural backgrounds, but you cannot bash a black girl because she does not fit the "ideal" description.

And there is more.

The guys that say, "I don't do black girls, they too ratchet/they got an attitude" — excuse me? Have you been with/spoken to all the black girls on this planet? Is this a category that you throw all ill-mouthed girls? Why such prejudice, especially coming from black men? Or they will chant that they interact with girls that are light-skinned, that is their conditioned self-speaking. The fact that these men have dark-skinned sisters and mothers and yet don't want to associate with girls that look the same confuses me. And who even asked you? There are 100 other ethnicities and races in the world, and we are the one you decide to spit on? Did we do something to you?

Black girls already have society looking at them sideways. First, for being a woman, and second, for being black, and black males add to this by rejecting and disrespecting us.

But we still we rise above it all.

Black girls of our generation are starting to realize the power that we hold, especially as we work hand in hand. Women like Oprah Winfrey, Lupita Nyong'o, Chinua Achebe, Michelle Obama — the list is too long — are changing the narrative of the "black girl" the world knows. The angry black woman has been replaced with the beautiful, educated, and successful melanin-filled woman.

Girls, embrace your hair, body, and skin tone, and don't let boys or society dictate what is acceptable or beautiful. The black girl magic is real, and it's coming at them strong.

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