I am willing to hear you out all day about my light-skinned privilege, even though not every mixed person has light skin, because it does exist. I am willing to listen to your misconceptions about mixed race people only identifying with one or the other when it is convenient for them, because I want to correct you on where you are coming from. I am even willing to go through an interrogation of you asking me which parent is white, because that’s a complicated question to answer.
However, I am done with mixed race people being left out of the narrative about social justice. Especially if you don’t think we won’t be able to “relate” to the conversation.
Don’t tell me I don’t know what being harmed or discriminated against is like, because you don’t know me.
I attended a missions conference called Urbana in St. Louis, Missouri this past December, a little after Christmastime. What was so great about being in that space was how hard they worked at making it an inclusive environment for students from various backgrounds internationally.
There were various lounges students and staff were allowed to participate in based on the many backgrounds that were there on the conference. There was a lounge Native Americans were in, Middle Eastern Americans, African Americans, Latin Americans, you name it, it was available as far as monoracial, or one who is of one racial and/or ethnic background, identities goes.
The lounges were available all week during the conference.
In order to make it inclusive for multiracial people, a student got permission to announce a table available to hangout and have dialogue. The table was only available for a few hours in one day.
At Urbana, we talked a lot about the Black Lives Matter movement, immigration reform, and combating religious intolerance. There were even facilitators who identified as mixed race in some capacity during those seminars and sessions. However, there was only one speaker who was able to make my identity feel included during the overlapping topics of social and emotional healing and social justice. Her name is Michelle Higgins – look her up.
Other than that, and not to say that it wasn’t a great experience, I felt swept under the rug. It also didn’t help that I felt the most included at a table that was only available for an hour, whereas everyone else were able to find a space to be a part of all week. Of course, not that you had to strictly be of that group in order to join people in the lounge, but that’s not the point.
When Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were murdered, I wasn’t just worrying about my brother anymore (I’ve been doing that since Michael Brown), I was worrying about my dad too. Mixed race black men endure racial profiling and violence as well. I know because my family has experienced it, and they continue to experience it.
I don’t care because it’s “what’s trending.” I don’t care because “it’s convenient for me to care” (if it was truly convenient for me, I wouldn’t be talking about it so much). No, I care because I am angry. I care because this affects me just as much.
Having to see my mom post things like “I can’t keep calm, I have a black son” on her Facebook, hurts. Don’t undermine my mom, and don’t undermine me, for caring as mixed race black women.
Regardless of your misconceptions, multiracial people have a lot to contribute to the narrative we are in right now as far as social issues go. There are stories with a lot of impact about identity, external pressures from society, code switching, and identifying with the many issues our various cultures face. Don’t immediately write us off so soon before you miss your chance on getting to hear what we have to say.