Throughout my entire life, I have been criticized on a few key areas of my personality. I have heard that I am too feminine, too outgoing, and too sensitive. I have learned how to deal with those types of comments and although they still hurt, they never seem to leave me incapacitated. That’s not to say that I am invincible, though. There is one criticism that always seems to leave me breathless, sucking the life out of me every single time without fail. What is the criticism, you ask? What is the hurtful comment? “You’re so white.”
I am biracial. My mother is white and my father was black. Because of this, I have been stuck in this awkward middle ground in between being too black for some white people, and not being black enough for black people. I know that there is no such thing as being “too white” or “too black”, but that doesn’t change the fact that many people perceive me in those ways, and no matter what I do, someone is going to try to fit me into those boxes. That hurts.
I was raised by my wonderful, courageous, single white mother. I may not resemble her physically, but I do carry her personality traits, quirks, and sarcastic sense of humor. She raised me on a combination of 1960’s folk music and rock radio. From the way I dress, to the way I speak, to the way I present myself, to the way that I dance at college parties, my mother has been very influential in my life. I would say that I am culturally white. Of course I cannot and will not ever deny my blackness, but in the same way, I cannot and will not deny my whiteness.
Although I cannot deny the fact that I am more culturally white, that does not mean that I get to identify as white. My skin is brown. My hair is thick. My nose is broad and my lips are wide. I am still racially profiled and I still carry the weight of the subtle brand of racism that is present in today’s America. Some white people still avoid walking near me on the sidewalk, check their wallets and purses when I pass, and run in terror if I ask for directions in an unfamiliar area. I don’t get to play the white card when someone mistreats me because of the color of my skin.
On the flip side, I am often criticized by some black people for being too white. My jeans are tight. I listen to Green Day. I can’t dance, rap, or play basketball. I am still made fun of for the way I talk. Some black people won’t give me the time of day because I don’t fit in with most aspects of black culture. I don’t get to say, “I’m black too!” as I am mocked for sounding “too white”.
All of this puts me in a very difficult position. If I am too black for some white people, and not black enough for some black people, where am I to go? Am I ever going to be enough for anyone? Am I too white? Am I too black? Am I not white or black enough?
The answer is no. I am not too white or black, but I will also never be white or black enough. I will likely battle these perceptions the rest of my life. All I can ever hope for is for someone to be willing to listen to my story and to begin to understand the way that I am. I cannot and will not apologize for speaking or dressing the way that I do. And I cannot and will never apologize for the skin that I wear. I’m not sorry for the man that God has made me to be. No one should have to feel sorry for who they are. All I can ask is that before you decide that I’m “so white”, that you take a step back and try and understand the weight of that statement.
I am a person made in the image of the living God. I’m not “too” or “not enough” of anything. God gave me the life that I live, the experiences that I encounter, the mother I was raised by, and the skin that I am in… and I’m not sorry.