Being Mixed in Today’s Racial Climate

So newsflash, if you didn’t already know, I’m mixed. My mom is white and my dad is black. My mom is like white white. She’s Canadian for goodness sake, I’m not sure if it gets much whiter than that. My dad is pretty black. He’s from Eastern North Carolina (and let’s just settle the debate once and for all. The best barbecue. I’m not arguing with you sorry) and while I’m sure it gets more black than that, we can all acknowledge that’s a pretty special kind of black.

I’m aware that I’ve probably made like 10 racially insensitive remarks already. So if you are offended at all by anything I’ve said…you should just stop reading now. I’m not one for political correctness and I’m not a master of this topic. I’m just a random mixed woman writing at 6 am.

One thing I will touch base on before getting to the more important stuff is my choice of the word mixed. There are very small debates in parts of the world as to what is the correct term to use when discussing people who come from more than one racial back ground. And yes, yes I hear you all now “we are all the human race” or technically “every is more than one race.” Ok great. Please sit your all lives matter behind down somewhere and just listen for once. I purposefully use the term mixed because I like it best. Please insert bi-racial, or multi-racial as you please if it bothers you but as for me and my house, we are mixed. Call it what you want, just not mullato because we might fight.

Anywho…

If you are unaware of the stressful racial climate of today’s world…please read a book, open the paper, turn on the news or just kind of pay-a-fucking-ttention the next time you’re out in public, then come back and read this. It’s not good. It’s never been good and part of me fears it never will be. Yes there has been change and in some areas, progress, but there is still a very, very long way to go. And that’s a post that one of my fellow bloggers could definitely write much better than I could.

What I’m here to kind of briefly bring to your attention and then peace out about is, what your mixed friends may be experiencing right now. And if they aren’t experiencing it, I sure as hell am so it’s important for that reason alone.

It’s tough.

And maybe in a way that you wouldn’t expect.

It’s always been tough to be black, and therefore tough to be mixed if you look even the slightest bit black. Definitely not tough in the same way but tough.

And then there is the general struggle that is to be mixed. Research says I will have a identify crisis regarding what I am. And maybe this is it. But up until this point I have been very much aware of what I am. I’m mixed. And that has never confused me. My parents didn’t ram a racial identity down my throat. And I woke up every day to my white mother and black father in the same household loving me and allowing me to live my best mixed life. The question of “what are you” was always answered with “mixed” then later on when I discovered the fine art of petty the response was “human.” But bottom line, I have never questioned what I am racially. I’m mixed. The best and worst of BOTH worlds. Many many other people have not understood it, have tried to put me in a box and demanded “yea but you gotta pick one” or my favorite “well your dad’s black so you’re black” like my entire white mother just doesn’t count. Bye Felicia.

So my current mixed dilemma…

There is this definite culture right now in the black community of hating white people. Now I’m certain this is nothing new. It’s always been there. Black and white people not getting along is as American as apple pie and lynchings. This is most likely just my generations experience of that. But I am experiencing it all the same, and through my mixed filter, constantly keeping in mind my white mother, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandfather when I hear comments like

“White people suck”

“I don’t care what white people think”

“Everyone but white people”

“I hate white people”

“White people are the devil”

I see this and much more, sprawled in my timelines every day, and I have found myself in many a conversation where these statements are made and I just kind of sit there like “ummm hello. Mixed person in the building please don’t count a whole half of me out.”

And I would be lying if I said I hadn’t said some of these things too. It’s hard not too. White people have done some seriously fucked up shit towards black people and continue to do so on a very high, political, systematic basis every day (again another post for another day that I probably won’t write, but think prison system, drug war, legalization of marijuana, gentrification type things). So I totally get where the statements are coming from.

But the reality is, not all white people have done these things or think this way and we get no where by making such broad generalizations and statements. And I know for a fact that many of the people I have heard these things from, do not think this way about all white people, because they have white friends or at the very least absolutely love my mom, but just some pure honesty from a mixed woman…every time I hear those statements I get this sucker punch to the gut of my racial identity and go into immediate fight or flight mode. And I’ll admit, the majority of the time I opt for flight. Like I said. I’ve said these things too.

I’ve even gone so far as to be proud that my moms pretty much “someone’s old granny reincarnated in this white woman’s body.” Yep. I’ve said that. It sounds good. Makes me feel like I didn’t miss out on this black experience of having a black mom. I get excited when I see videos on Facebook about “things black moms say” and I’m like “yea my mom has said 95% of those things too. Yay I didn’t miss out.” But I’ve realized in the last few days, and as I write this blog, that that’s kind of a fucked up way of thinking. My mom’s white. Super white. Blonde hair. Blue eyed. Like I said, she’s freakin Canadian for crying out loud. She’s white! And yea she can throw down in the kitchen with the best of them. And she gets mad and cusses and threatens to never cook for anyone again and she definitely has asked me if I have McDonald’s money more than once. But she’s still white. I still almost cussed this black guy out at Walmart one time in his black lives matter t-shirt for getting an unnecessary attitude with her because she patiently waited for him to move and said excuse me but he didn’t hear it. She’s white. People look at her and assume things based off that and because she’s white she has certain privilege in this world that I as her mixed daughter do not have. But I think she has used it beautifully. She will politely cuss you out for using the n-word in her presence and will hold off on letting you know about her black husband and mixed children just to see if you’re going to say some racist shit first. She is legit rooting for everyone black and will tell you. Shes definitely invited to the cook out. She’s probably made half the food. And her Mac and cheese is quite possibly top 5 that you’ve ever tasted. And even though she meets all those stereotypes about what it means to be black…she’s white.

And I would not change anything about her or my experience being a mixed woman with a white mother.

So anywho, I have said all that to say this. Not all white people are evil. Not all white people are terrible. And just like we do not want all black people to be classified as thugs or gangsters or criminals or dangerous, we get no where and do not further any cause, by speaking in generalized terms in response.

These issues only get solved by open and honest communication with people who don’t look like you. And that can only be done with an open mind and a willingness to learn and understand and not the agenda to change.

So, go befriend a white person today, and if you can’t find one let me know, because my mom is awesome!

Side note: Pastor Furtick with Elevation church recently did an amazing conversation with Charlemagne the God around this topic of difference and conversation. You should check it out.

http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/come-out-of-your-corner/

Homophobia…A Story/Rant

I recently read a post about Frank Ocean’s father suing him for defamation about a derogatory slur used back when Ocean was younger.  It was about Homophobia in the black community; and it got me to thinking. Thinking about my own life and growing up dealing with my own homophobia up until I “came out”.

In my experience, there’s always been this issue with black people, specifically black men, standing up for their LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Sure, they don’t mind that you’re LGBTQ, and they even hang out with you and meet your significant others, but in the back of their mind, they still have a problem with it. They might not admit it, because they might not even know they have a problem with it. But if you ask any of your friends that claim to be LGBTQ supporters how they view sex between two people of the same sex, what would their reaction be? (This can also be another topic because being Lesbian compared to being Gay is a crazy double-standard, but we’ll visit this next week, maybe).

I’ve seen where people who say they “don’t care” that people are LGBTQ, tend to have a problem with supporting the overall LGBTQ community. You know, going to PRIDE, hitting up a gay club, watching RuPaul’s Drag Race…you know, those types of things. I don’t know the ultimate reason why this is the case, but I’ve been personally told that there is this stigma that if you associate with a person who is LGBTQ, other people will automatically assume that they, themselves are LGBTQ as well. So I guess it’s just people trying to avoid being identified as gay or something because of their own insecurities.

And we don’t want that now, do we? Especially in the black community.

I’ve read plenty of articles about being gay in the black community. I experienced it first hand, it was the main reason why I didn’t really start to live my life truly until about 25, MAYBE 26. It was an issue…being black, growing up in a black church. Seeing some of the other boys being teased when I was younger and being made fun of because they “acted gay”. I didn’t want that to be me. I didn’t want it to be me because to be gay was to not be masculine. To not be cool.  To like girly things. To basically lose your “man card”. To be thought of lesser than.  I knew how parents reacted when they found out their child was gay. They were ashamed and I didn’t want to shame my family.

(And to the beautiful people who grew up going through this, I can’t imagine your struggle, but I know that you are one of the strongest groups of people I will ever know.)

This is what’s “taught” in the black community. No, not literally, but it IS learned. Be it through the media, through family, friends or whatever, it is learned. And sure, some people will say “well now things are different and we’ve come a long way”, and that may be true, but there’s still a problem with homophobia, especially around the straight, black community.  And the first thing I think about when my mind is directed to this is that there’s this “issue” about the demasculinization of the (black) male. And I truly don’t even understand this train of thought (maybe I’ll pick up a book one of these days). This homophobia found in the black community fueled my own homophobia throughout my childhood even through most of my college years.

I went through college as a straight male. Had girlfriends, had sex with them, it was fun, sure. But when it came down to it, even during one of those relationships I was fighting something that was always there. And I knew it was always there. Juggling between both sides of the spectrum.  But the little black boy from the small town where everyone knew him as a good christian boy couldn’t let that be seen. I’ve said some hateful things in the past about the LGBTQ community, knowing I was a part of it myself, only so that I could save my face and not be accused of being gay, when in actuality I was the whole time. I’ve hated myself to the point where I tried to “pray the gay away” multiple times. I went to church, listening to sermon after sermon thinking that something was wrong with me. I listened to family members, talk so much shit about LGBTQ people that it fueled this self hate.

I’ve suppressed it so much that I became somewhat of a “Pro” at being straight to the general audience. People I knew or hung around on a normal basis always knew or had somewhat of an idea, but generally speaking nobody really caught on. Again, because of the black community, I didn’t want to be ridiculed or shamed or whatever. And to this day, there is this “thing” within the gay community about being gay but not “looking” gay (another post for another time).

Even after coming out, I’ve had straight people tell me that they like hanging out with “gays like me”, because I’m “different”. Which translates to, “I don’t mind hanging out with you because you don’t look gay, therefore nobody will think I’m gay”. And I’m so tired of hearing this. Just because you’re “OK” with it isn’t enough.

Again…

I want you to show it. Truly, show it and be ok, out in public, loud and proud that we’re cool people. I want you to support me by going to events like PRIDE and to Drag Shows. I want to talk about my life with you in detail just like you talk about yours. I want you to go to a gay club and party it up! And no you don’t HAVE to go, but at least entertain the possibility. THAT’s when I know you’re actually OK with it. To tell someone you don’t mind that they are Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, or Queer, and then not support them afterwards is an empty statement. It means nothing and I will always assume that you will always have a problem with our community; And until you get your insecurities straightened out, I don’t want your half assed support.

This whole shit has built up so much resentment and regret in me. I resent the fact that the black culture had made me feel broken. I regret calling whomever I called a faggot that word growing up. I resent that the church made me feel dirty and unloved. I regret not standing up for what was right when I saw an LGBTQ person be ridiculed and judged for who they are. I resent the fact that I waited so long to be a part of a community who tries to do nothing but live life as they are.

And you can blame it on your beliefs, blame it on your personal preferences, blame it on whatever, who cares. We’re fighting right now for our spot in the the world and we’ll keep on fighting long after you’re forgotten about.

Application for Diversity

A month ago, my daughter introduced me to a new app as she routinely does. What typically happens is I notice her playing something incessantly and download it to see what it is. I then obsess over it for a few days until I reach some awful level that I can’t beat and I give up. This time, however, has been different.

Sandbox

Quite possibly the best time wasting app I have ever come across. I have yet to figure out how the name relates to the app. It’s a color by number app. That’s it. No levels. No time limits. Only constraint is you have to pay for access to more detailed pictures, which I promptly did to color in order to color this lotus flower.

It also does this awesome time lapse video after you fill it in.

So there are all sorts of pictures you can color. Flowers, cars, cartoons, people, cartoon people in cars holding flowers. Okay maybe not that one but anything is possible.

The other day, however, I noticed something when a picture popped up. I had been coloring in very detailed and beautiful pictures of white women. Pictures like this.

And this

And I just want to throw out this picture of a tiger in here, because it’s awesome

There were also some really cool cartoon white people as well

But after playing for almost a month this was the first person of color that I colored

Do you see the problem?

If you don’t. That’s another post for another time. But for those who already get it let’s proceed. If you don’t, you can still proceed and maybe you’ll catch up.

I really didn’t want to believe this person was black but as I filled her in and the complexion was completed and that awkward butt thing finished I had to acknowledge it. This was their first and only black woman or even person of color all month. Unless you count this guy

And I don’t.

This one came later, but I wasn’t sure if they were black or a seriously tanned version of Gene Simmons

Even these clearly non white characters just looked like white people in costume

This initially started me writing a post in my head about white privilege. White privilege is seeing yourself represented in apps automatically and not having to question why there are no people of color.

But then I decided to try something. I never review apps or leave comments. This time I did. I left a comment for sandbox pointing out the lack of diversity and how it would be nice to see more detailed pictures of people of color and men (white men included). Diversity is an amazing thing.

I honestly didn’t expect much. Maybe a response about how they were working on it. Or no response at all.

But y’all…the most beautiful thing happened.

Every morning I wake up to 5 or 6 new pictures to color. THE VERY NEXT MORNING this is what I saw.

DO Y’ALL SEE THAT?!? Not the astronaut or the gems or the watermelon or that angry knight in the corner. No. Right there. That beautiful, detailed, obviously BLACK woman!!!

I can not describe how full my heart was when I saw that. I immediately got to work coloring her in to see how gorgeous she was. With every shade of brown that I applied my heart grew bigger. I ran to my daughter and her friend and told them what had happened. What I had done.

Yep. I’m taking full responsibility for this one. Maybe they were already working on it. But that’s a huge coincidence. THE NEXT DAY!! I’ve had guys take longer to respond to a text message than it did for this app developer to respond to my suggestion.

And then I got to thinking. Why isn’t it always that easy. That’s all it took. Correcting the issue. They didn’t have to respond. They didn’t have to apologize. All they had to do was correct the issue. No questioning. No trying to convince me I was making things up. No defending why they hadn’t had a diverse selection of skin tones up until this point. No blaming. No finger pointing. No all coloring lives matter crap. Just correction of the problem. Why can’t it always be this easy?

Maybe one day the rest of the world will learn from the Sandbox app and quickly acknowledge and correct racism when it is pointed out. Until then I will keep admiring this beautiful lady I colored in and count this as one itty bitty teeny tiny step to equality.

Here she is!

Here’s her video

And just a few days later I got to color in this possible Cardi B image that I love too

(Or is that Miley?!?)

Ps. My daughter says that if you want some good entertainment read the other reviews to the app.