Being mixed in America today is realization.
It is the knowledge that if you were different, your gender, the richness of your melanin, it could be you lying on the ground with a knee crushing your windpipe. It is choosing not to wear a hooded sweatshirt when out at night alone. It is knowing that racism isn’t just a white- on- black problem, but an everyone- on- everyone problem. That addressing white supremacy won’t eradicate racism.
Being mixed in America today is being able to count the celebrities who are like you on the fingers of one hand.
It is growing up with the question “what are you?” and never knowing how to answer a question that strips you of your humanity. It is not knowing how to ask new people the same thing you don’t want to be asked, and settling for “are you like me?”
Being mixed in America today is yearning for stories about people who are more like you.
It is hoping, hoping for books about black people who aren’t being murdered or pushed down. When you find them, there’s a sense of something missing, because they still don’t represent you.
Being mixed in America today is wishing you looked different. More black.
It is realizing that you want darker skin, that you want to feel beautiful the way you think you should. It is keloid scarring and hair breakage when you try to assimilate.
Being mixed in America today is fear.
It is hoping you will never be the victim of gun violence, or police brutality. It is cautiousness and avoidance and trying, trying, trying not to give up.
Being mixed in America today is remembering.
It is the moment your ex- roommates, both daughters of state troopers, laughed and made fun of the military police officer who pulled you over. It was your car, but you weren’t driving. It is the visceral fear you felt when you realized they didn’t understand why you were terrified and not moving.
Being mixed in America today is crying.
It is attempting to reconcile the part of yourself that is being shot, strangled, spit on, and tear gassed with the part of yourself that is doing black face, calling “all lives matter,” and performing the violence. It is holding your white father’s hand and sobbing, asking “Why are we still having the same conversation about gun violence and whose lives matter most?”
Being mixed in America today is learning about history and wishing you hadn’t.
It is imagining your Confederate ancestors rolling in their graves at the thought of your existence. It is the screams that scrape at your throat when you learn about the rape, lynching, and numbers of slaves that didn’t live past thirty. It is holding the truth in your heart, that your ancestors did this to your ancestors.
Being mixed in America today is aching to belong. Searching for a way to be part of both worlds.
It is thinking of your black brothers and sisters and realizing that you don’t think of white people in the same way. It is growing up and being the “blackest person in the room,” which comes with the weight of other people’s expectations.
Being mixed in America today is pretending.
It is pretending that the world doesn’t see you as black, even when you identify as mixed. It is pushing aside your disgust at racial slurs in popular music that make your heart break and your soul tear. It is slipping on armor to protect your identity against people who tell you to choose.
Being mixed in America today is teaching and learning.
It is the knowledge that white people expect you to have a PhD in race relations “straight out the womb,” even when the people you’re speaking to are twice your age. It is listening to and pushing the voices forward of those who are blacker than you. It is reading and watching and searching for meaning, because you know people will ask you about being an ally.
Being mixed in America today is constantly being both by being neither.
It is hoping you fall in love with someone who isn’t white, because no matter what, your children won’t ever truly pass. Knowing that you are dooming them to a life of never really belonging.
Being mixed in America today is horror.
It is the knowledge that classic books mean something different to you than they do to others. It is the sickening way The Bluest Eye made you hate yourself. It is gun violence that makes you rage and weep. It is the idea that those bodies could have been your family.
Being mixed in America today is hard. It is overwhelmingly difficult. It is everything and nothing. It is hoping for, searching for belonging. It is finding it with people who don’t look like you. It is being raised in a religion that wouldn’t have let you in at its inception. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and probably always will be.
Being mixed in America today is me.
Everyday Acts of Activism