I have written about this before and I'm sure it's a little obvious from looking at me. But in case you didn't know, I'm the product of a mixed race couple. My mom is white and my dad is half white/half black. No matter what the mix, children of mixed race parents tend to run into issues sometimes.
Which in my case means that entire life has kind of been one large identity crisis. I was always asked whether I was white or black and at some point, my identity was more or less decided for me.
I've always been raised around white family members and dressed stereotypically like the white girls I went to school with. I never really learned how to take care of my natural hair and I surrounded myself with white friends and pretty much exclusively dated white boys because those were the kinds of people I felt comfortable with.
Sure, I have faced some obstacles based on my skin color and I have watched my dad have his fair share of issues being a black man in white neighborhoods. But truthfully, my life was not nearly as hard as it could have been. And I never really thought about the fact that while I was inwardly refusing to choose a side, I had outwardly chosen one.
It honestly never really bothered me before because I didn't know that life for me could really be any different than the way it was. But the older I got, the fewer people asked how I identified and started giving me a label.
I'm often called the "white sibling" or told I "may be brown on the outside but there's clearly a white girl on the inside". I get the jokes from my friends and family. I tend to take it in stride and try to join in on the joking, but it bothers me the more I think about it.
Truthfully, I'm pretty comfortable in my skin. And I'm a little ashamed of myself for it. Part of me has always wished to be more like the other brown girls my age. But part of me has also always known that it wouldn't be that way for me.
My sister is much more comfortable with embracing black culture and beauty standards. We came from the same two people but she always has darker skin, curlier hair, more curves, and much more rebellious of being turned into a little white kid.
I've always been jealous of my sister for those things. I've always had lighter skin and freckles. Wavier hair and a smaller frame. I have no idea what it's like to spend time with my dad's side of the family.
I have no idea what it's like to have healthy curls and dress less like I'm a walking valley girl poster. I don't have any idea what it's like to struggle as a black woman in any capacity. I know of black icons but I can't relate to them or anything about them. I relate more to Taylor Swift than someone like Zendaya and I have absolutely no knowledge of black culture. Like at all.
I sometimes feel like all of these things make me a little bit of a disappointment. For my dad, my grandmother, and her parents. I know that a lot of their pride is/was wrapped in being strong black individuals who know where they came from and are proud of it. But I don't know anything about it or how to behave that way/
It's honestly something I think I'll always be ashamed of. I wish that I would have decided for myself sooner and maybe embraced the other part of my identity. I could start now, but I don't know where to start. Or how to erase the last 20 years of not knowing that part of myself.