Being Biracial
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Politics and Activism

What Hearing 'What Are You?' Feels Like, From The Eyes Of A Biracial Girl

Such a seemingly harmless phrase can hurt those who are of mixed race.

77
Man

What are you?

What. Are. You?

What. A word that is usually used to describe a thing is now utilized to describe a person.

For the most part, people might find this phrase to rather harmless. But to some, it might be the beginning of trying to explain your whole family heritage to someone in order for them to understand.

Growing up biracial for me had always been a struggle. People are always quick to assume your race. For me, that meant that my tan skin and my curly hair would automatically categorize me as Latina. The amount of times I've had people come up to me speaking Spanish is ridiculous. I guess I don't help my situation either with being from the Bronx, a predominantly Latina area. However, being Latina couldn't be farther from the truth of who I am.

I'm half African American and Asian. No, that doesn't mean I'm Blasian either.

My dad is Haitian. My mom is Guyanese.

If you don't know where Guyana is, it's this small country located in South America with a complicated history. My mother's great-grandmother was originally brought over to Guyana as a slave from her native country, India. The country is now filled with many people whose ancestors are from India but also with people who are native to the country. Because of this complicated past, I usually have to go on and explain how I'm half brown from a country that's in South America.

Even though according to the U.S. Census, someone who is from Southeast Asia is considered Asian, that's not the normal picture that pops into someone's head when they think of the word Asian, but let's not get into that.

So in simpler terms, I'm half black and half brown.

Being these two races has always been hard. I didn't grow up with both my parents, just my mom. So growing up, I had a bit of an identity crisis. Whenever people asked me this dreaded question, I would always reply back with Guyanese. I didn't accept a part of myself because I couldn't. I didn't want to be part of someone who I didn't like.

I wanted to be my mother. But I couldn't really become that either.

I'm a part of two races who don't really get along. It usually forces me to chose one side over the other. It wasn't until recently I've come to grow into my skin and embrace being both.

It's hard and it gets harder when people ask questions about what you are and what box your identity fits into. So the next time I hear the words, "What are you?" instead of answering with the response and the breakdown I just gave, all I'm going to say is, I'm human.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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