I've been wanting to write this article for years but kept resisting because I wasn't comfortable talking about, especially not on a platform as The Odyssey. However, after many years of being silent, I thought writing about my identity struggles as a mixed-race girl would help shed some light on what people with backgrounds similar to mine go through.
It gets frustrating when people have their own opinions on what its like growing up with a mixed heritage and how they try to define us when we don't even know how to define ourselves. You want to talk about having an identity crisis, just imagine for one second you have parents from 2 different races and they each bring their own culture, values, traditions to the relationship. You get the privilege of participating with both cultures all under one roof but when it comes to people asking you "Which side do you pick"? it leaves you at loss for words.
Why do we need to pick sides? Why can't we have the best of both worlds? If Hannah Montana can do it, why can't I?
As I kid I didn't understand how wonderful it is to have such an unique family history. Coming from Black, French, and Dutch background makes for an fun story of how my family came together. Interesting fact, both my grandfather and uncle were with French woman and coincidently in the military as well. Basically my family is an melting mix that I didn't fully understand until I got older. I didn't start having identity issues until I got into college where more people asked me what my background was than ever before. My struggles stemmed from not being completely comfortable with myself and I would compare myself to others, as if they could give me some kind of relief. At times I struggled with not being ambiguous enough, not looking "exotic" like some instagram models, not pretty enough, oh the list is endless.
It was a never ending cycle of being lost in what I thought society wanted me to look like.
I finally went to the one person who could understand what I was going through, my mom. As someone who grew up biracial she knew exactly who she was, it was actually quite simple for her. And I remember wondering how come I couldn't come to the same realization as quickly as my mom did. In the end I finally realized I would never want to pick one side over the other because that would mean denying one of my parents culture which could never be an option.
If you are someone of mixed heritage the one piece of advice I would like to give to you is be comfortable with who you are. No one and I mean NO ONE, can tell you who you are/what you identify with except yourself. It took me awhile to fully grasp and take this to heart but its the truth. You should be proud of where you come from. And I am proud to be part of it. Not because its something to brag about but to be proud of where I come from. Up until recently, I used to be a bit ashamed to talk about my family background because somehow I felt like I was painting myself to be better than other people. But now I realize that there is nothing to be ashamed about.