Almost daily, I'm asked what race I am followed by a thousand questions concerning my lifestyle and characteristics, which can be extremely fun to talk about... when not directed offensively. It's a stigma that all people from a certain region should have certain characteristics, and for a mixed person who ends up not having such traits, it becomes a daily struggle to explain why and "justify" our heritage. It's not only important for people who aren't biracial to understand that their good intentions and inquisitions can have limits, but also that sometimes their questioning can come off as rude. Here are the most common questions you have about mixed kids, answered by yours truly.
1. "...What are you?"
Okay, there's nothing wrong with asking where we are from, but sometimes, it's worded to sound so negatively that we don't even want to respond. Every time I have to answer this one question, I've been asked if I'm Mexican, Colombian and Brazilian, when in actuality, I'm half Jamaican and half Chinese.
This question can either be a great conversation starter or a terrible way to first meet someone, especially if it is not at first obvious that they're mixed... which brings me to...
2. "But you don't look ___*insert race*___ !"
This question is the middle finger equivalent to mixed people. Being biracial is a trait that we are proud of — we get to take pride in both countries/ regions we represent and sport features from, a characteristic that not everyone can have. To say that we don't "look" like we're from the regions we are from is an indirect insult to us. Imagine getting a 100 on your math test and being proud of your grade, then someone saying, "But you don't look smart!" Ouch, right?
Sadly today, it's not counted as being "biracial" unless your parents have different skin tones, which is completely false. There are stereotypes of what people from certain regions should look like. If we don't share those traits, that doesn't mean we don't get to take pride that we are from that region too.
3. "Can I touch your hair?"
Spoiler alert: the answer to this question is almost every time "no." It's not that we care about your unclean hands running through our freshly washed hair, but it's because we actually care that your unclean hands running through our freshly washed hair. People who aren't biracial will not understand, but our hair has a different texture and feels than normal hair; meaning we don't get to "simply wash, blow-dry and go!" like most people.
For our hair, our hair routines are complex, they take time and once we finally get the hairstyle we want from battling our curls into braids and hair ties, we REALLY don't need your hand running through it and unleashing the beast (AKA the frizz and resultant afro from combed-out curls).
4. "Are you adopted?"
Note: all mixed kids may not look alike, but that doesn't mean we're not related.
The great thing about genes for mixed kids is that your features are like winning the lottery; it's jumbled and random. There's no guarantee that you will end up with the winning match, but not everyone will also have the winning numbers. Therefore, two kids of the same mixtures can look totally different, as my sister and I are. She has caramel skin and brown, curly hair while I sport pale skin and jet black waves. This does not mean we aren't sisters; we are still related.
I find that this happens more when I'm out with just one of my parents because individually, we look very different. I always catch someone's eye looking from my mother to myself, and back again with an eyebrow raise as if it clicked that the only way that two people who vary so differently could be together is if one was adopted. It's the world we live in, sadly.
5. "You're both? So do you like black guys more or white guys?"
Why is this even a question? Since when as race been the defining factor for the person you choose to be with? Honestly, because I happen to be from both races, that doesn't change the way I see people. Personally, I prefer personality over looks, but I suppose for some people it can the opposite. The moral is, just because we're biracial doesn't mean we'll always have preferences.
And yes, our babies are adorable.
6. "But you act/talk so white!"
This statement, of all statements, is the absolute worst thing you can ever, ever say. Again with stereotypes, these do not define who we are or should be, and there's no such thing as "acting or talking white." Like any other race, white people vary personality and action-wise, and there's no way to categorize an entire race into one psyche.
Meaning, when someone says "you act and talk so white," they're speaking of you being able to speak "properly," and act like the "higher-class," than those who are also from your heritage who apparently don't. On behalf of all mixed people, please never use this sentence again.
7. "Select your race below."
All standardized testing and online application forums has a form where you are able to select your ethnicity (singular) from a given list. For multiracial people, this forces us to "choose the race that we most identify with" (what?!) rather than choose more than one that defines who we are. I still don't understand society's need to label individuals into certain categories, but this labeling is our biggest pet peeve.
For some, this forces them to choose which country they take pride in more, or for others, choose which parent's heritage they're most proud of. Either way, this divides who we are constantly, and only emphasizes the question of which labeled bin we belong in within our categorized world.