Mixed race girls have issues – part 3 of 3

Mixed race girls have issues because when we define ourselves ‘mixed race’, we refer to race.

I’m trying to pay attention to how many times I say ‘race’ whilst talking about myself. This past week I’ve used the word at least five times. (Note, I’ve just used the word race 4 times already)

Inevitably using the word race to define your identity, makes you repetitiously aware of the concept of race. This awareness just might be part of the reason why many mixed race people deal with the polemics of whether they are black, white or mixed race.

Maybe the solution is to drop the word ‘race’, or call ourselves mixed only, or black, like many well-known mixed race people do, Obama, Berry etc. Personally, I’m not consistent with how I label myself, most of the time I call myself black, but I’m also mixed, biracial, multiracial and so on.

As mixed race people are expected to be the largest UK minority by 2020, some argue an all-inclusive word is worth having.The options are not great. Mutt … Coloured…Half-caste…Mixed-blood. There seems a hole in the English dictionary for a word describing the millions of people who are, well, mixed race.

In Finnish, a mixed race person is ruskea, which means brown, in Swedish and Spanish, he/she is a mulatto. Mischling in German was the same word used to denote people who were not from the Third Reich…do you know the word in other languages?

For me, the term Afropolitan defines me better than anything else. It explains who I am culturally and helps me identify people who share similar cosmopolitan African experiences.

More on this topic in What being mixed race has taught me

  • teachermrw

    I am enjoying reading your series. As I cannot speak from the frame of experience of mixed race women, I am willing to listen and learn. Thank you for sharing. :)

    • MsAfropolitan

      I hope my thoughts about this don’t come across as too muddled, because it is a complex topic. Thank you for checking in.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003405398107 Marilu

      I am mixed race also (my mom being black, dad being white), and Im ptetry attractive. Im not trying to be a jerk about it, but strangers walk up to me all the time and insist on telling me how beautiful they think I am. Its actually extremely awkward, especially since how attractive I am isnt the most important thing to me (especially now that Im older and married). I have sisters on the other hand, who other people do not consider to be as attractive. So obviously this study isnt all true.Now looking at the behavioral aspects of the study, I was actually shocked because when I was a teen, I did have both the ‘bad black behaviors’ and ‘bad white behaviors.’ I would lie, cheat, steal, smoke, heavily drink, and often had unprotected sex (yikes, thank god Ive matured from my teen years). I dont know why my behavior was this way. I grew up in a college town, which may explain why i partied too much, but I also grew up with a mostly white influence. My mom and dad never divorced. Is it possible that mixed race kids act out because they feel different and feel like they must conform to both races?

  • http://vickii-ibakethereforeiam.blogspot.com/ Vickii

    I’ve been looking forward to this … another great post Minna!

    First of all, considering a large majority of mixed race people have naturally curly hair, at least 1 of those 4 dolls should definitely have curly hair!

    I completely agree that using the word race in the very definition of your identity makes you extremely conscious of it but I don’t know if the solution is to call ourselves black because I think the whole concept of labelling people by colour is just as inaccurate. The words ‘black’ and ‘white’ put an outstanding myriad of people with billions of different characteristics in one box – isn’t that a problem? Not to mention just how grossly inaccurate those boxes are – I personally have never met a person whose skin is actually black or one with white skin.

    Funnily enough, I never describe myself as mixed race, I’ll concede to it but I never use it for myself because I realised a few years ago that it didn’t accurately describe me. It’s not the fact that I’m half ‘black’ and half ‘white’ that makes me who I am, it’s the fact that I’m half Nigerian and half Greek. I even tick the ‘other’ box on official forms that contain boxes for ‘mixed race – black african’ etc and write half Nigerian, half Greek in there.

    • Jeanetttes daughter

      Your comment is interesting. It goes without saying, if you know anything at all about the transatlantic slave trade, that many Americans (north, south and central including the Caribbean archipelago, are “mixed race.” In Brasil, you may be anyone of 17 colors with — you guessed it– black or prieto at the very bottom of society, always. Pele does not undo that fact! Meanwhile, back at the ranch in the USA the one drop rule of white supremacist thought makes all of us socially, if not visually, black. I won’t reveal my race or ethnicity because I like to make others think about that. So, while adjusting your lens, consider this: I have a three year old – a tawny color with dark, thick, loosely curled and wavy when wet and brushed out hair, big dark almond shaped eyes, an appealing nose and lovely pillowy lips to match. She attends a Montessori school where she is one of probably three “black” children. Drawing pictures of her family one day with her “white” friend close by she used the black crayon because there were no truly ‘flesh coloured’ ones in her box. Shocked, her little white friend , scolded, “You can’t use that one! You’re brown — not black.” My three year old replied (I kid you not.) “You’re not white either but all your people are. You should use the pink crayon. As long as you call yourself white, I can call my self black.” There you have it. Make of it what you will.

  • Alley

    Great article. I’m new to your blog and really like it. I did want to point out something, though. There is no genetic component to “race”. Yes, it (DNA) affects the color of our skin and some other features like nose size, but these features may or may not neatly line up with racial “norms”. One cannot merely look at DNA and figure out one’s race. Genetically there is more variation within a race than between multiple races. (That’s why the “which race is most intelligent” debate got squashed- it was revealed through DNA that “race” is not tied to chromosomes and, therefore, cannot be correlated with intelligence) Race is a cultural label, which is obvious when one encounters conversations like this one: most people tend to define you by color tones and historical trends (like the one drop rule) instead of accounting for your diverse ethnic background. So it’s not accurate to say something like “I am genetically German and South African”-these are nationalities (culture that is tied to a political defined nation) or ethnic descriptions (culture and custom shared by peoples who happen to inhabit those nations). Just wanted to point that out. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

    • MsAfropolitan

      @ Alley, thanks for the encouraging blog props, I really appreciate your feedback, do visit again :)

      I also appreciate your sharing your knowledge on this matter, it’s an empowering thing to know – that race has no scientific meaning!
      I think many of us still muddle race and genetics up, but basically race is a social construct.
      This means that being mixed race or black or white is merely cultural, and from a genetical/DNA point of view we are all hybrids I guess, and maybe in particular those who are mixed.

      Given this knowledge, it’s surprising that any self-respecting academic (or Nobel-laureate!) would ever try to make claims that the African ‘race’ is genetically less intelligent.

  • http://vickii-ibakethereforeiam.blogspot.com/ Vickii

    Migas is the Greek word 😀

    • MsAfropolitan

      What does it mean? Sounds like it might be related with ‘mix’..

  • http://www.anniesyed.com annie q. syed

    Finally made it to your backyard, Ms. :)

    Nice. I like the switch.

    I will keep it simple: I just say “brown folks” or “soul people” that way I can include those people who do not have a pigment as dark as mine or darker than mine or even darker than mine. Because let’s be honest… we know it isn’t so easy as “color” equaling “understanding” of ANYTHING anymore.

    will share my other thoughts on the “hair”—oh the lovely hair–topic.



    • MsAfropolitan

      Good to see you here :)
      I like the term ‘brown folks’, although using folks in the UK/outside America just sounds like you’re trying hard to sound American, if that makes sense.
      I also have too many white homies I’d classify as ‘soul people’ to use it to distinguish myself racially, well whenever that necessity pops up.
      I’ll probably carry on being inconsistent with labeling myself (and having issues with it lol)- hell I might as well, even the scientists aren’t consistent!

  • http://www.anniesyed.com annie q. syed

    really? wow. never knew that in re: “folks.” huh. yes, now that i think of it, you are right…

    here is an anthropology 101 refresher I share with people:

    genetically speaking, there is a 7% DNA difference between EACH race! Yes, that small! Human to human total genetic variation is approximately 0.5%. This is based on single base-pair DNA differences accounting for 0.1% variation. Based only on this variation, this implies that the genomes of any two random humans are expected to differ by about 3 million base pairs. Of this .1% difference, 85% is found within any given population, and 7% is found between populations within a race and only 8% is found on average between the various races. Thus there is more genetic diversity within a race than between various races!!!!

    • MsAfropolitan

      I’ll have to take your word on that one, cause me and numbers…

      It’s that confusion between genetics and culture that I was touching on in this post. If defining oneself as black, white etc is complicated and perhaps even flawed, then it’ no surprise trying to define oneself as a mix of ‘races’ is a nightmare.

  • http://alligatorlegs.blogspot.com Alligator Legs

    I wanted to echo Alley’s comments about DNA, but also dispute the point on race as a cultural label. While it isn’t programmed into our DNA, groups of people sharing climates and altitudes over time have tended to share features that describe a phenotypic, as opposed to genotypic, marker for race, ie, certain groups of people living near the equator have darker skin than those living further away. And yes, culture inevitably attaches itself to these phenotypic variants, so that equatorial africans, who tend to be darker, may also share a range of languages/foods/customs. But that doesn’t make their race a cultural label, although western imperialist forces certainly used it as a tool to divide and conquer.

    As for me, I like “brown people” as a term. I’ve entered into debate many times over the use of the term “black” that is more specifically a term for Americans of African ancestry, and not African immigrants or Africans in general. Not to say that I don’t call myself a black woman, I certainly do, but I recognize that this term comes out of a specific social/political/historical context that does not always take into consideration the pluralities, such as bi- or multi-racial people, that exist in reality.

    Keep up the good work! AL.

    • MsAfropolitan

      Good to hear your thoughts on this.. thanks for stopping by my virtual corner

      Many South Americans tend to describe themself as Latinas/os, and the term feels inclusive of both race and culture even though one latina might be light skinned and the next darker.

  • http://shukura-shukura.blogspot.com Shukura Li

    Gr8 Post!!!!

    • http://www.mwanabaafrika.blogspot.com/ MBA

      I think everyone in the world is going through hybrid issues. Be it from race, culture, sexuality, gender, upbringing etc. Everyone goes through different issues with labeling. I may not be mixed race but I find myself either being pidgeonholed or feeling different aspects of me fit for different situations and places and so constantly find myself redefining and/ or switching labels to best describe me. America is just about the worst place for that with regards to race because when you don’t give them the label they think you should take they get very antsy and try to coax you into changing even if they don’t realise it!

      • MsAfropolitan

        I could not agree more.

        Also, I remember struggling with that even more so when I lived in nyc. I was even told once that I should call myself hispanic rather than mixed race, which I found very bizarre.

  • Anon

    I truly apologize for this comment if it offends you in anyway, it is just a thought that I have been having and although I don’t want to sound negative, it might be taken as such. I guess I am commenting moreso to try and get an open discussion going.

    What possible issue could a mixed race person have when you’re like the top of the pyramid? You mostly have light skin, you may have been taunted as a child for something like teeth or awkwardness (like all children), but have you ever had someone call you black and/or ugly because of your skin color?

    A mixed race girl can walk into a room and attract attention from everyone, black, white, yellow and in between… no beans for a darkie

    In the fashion world, though I am aware of many darker skinned models, i’m aware of MANY more black ones who are seemingly of mixed race.

    People desire your hair texture, skin color, eye color, white girls tan and darker black girls pray that their hair looks like yours.

    People gravitate towards a lighter skinned black person rather than a darker skinned person in every aspect of life, from professional to personal.

    So, what’s the problem?

    • MsAfropolitan

      hi, I appreciate your thoughts

      You refer to beauty ideals in your comment, and you are right that mixed race women have been favoured over black women by media of all sorts, which is obviously rooted in prejudice and messed up ideals that the whiter you are the better.

      So, the problem, to answer your question, is to be stuck in between worlds… where on one end people think you are privileged because you are lighter than they are, reinforcing the notion that has caused a lot of agony for people of African descent, and on the other end having to deal with another group who might not accept you because you are too dark for them, sometimes even members of your own family. well, this is just one example…the problem goes beyond looks or skin colour, if you read all the three posts I’ve explained some of the problems I see mixed race people dealing with.

      That said, I would not want to be anything other than what I am, which is Nigerian and Finnish, rather than a racial division. I am grateful to life that I can experience two such separate cultures as I have and to my parents for both dealing with the issues that people around them had about their union

  • Anon

    Thank you for not attacking me, and thank you for a thoughtful answer. It shows true class, elegance, and maturity.

    • MsAfropolitan

      & your coming back to say that shows those same attributes

      come visit again, was nice to hear your thoughts

  • http://afrobysoul.blogspot.com/ afro by soul

    In “french” we use the word “Metis” for a guy…”metisse” for a girl..

    “Minna est une intelligente et jolie metisse”
    isnt that a cute word?

    • MsAfropolitan

      Tres cute :) But then everything is in French! Merci!

      • http://afrobysoul.blogspot.com/ afro by soul

        oops thought you spoke french too….
        Minna is a smart mixed race girl..

  • http://www.rushay.org rushay

    the question that many mixed people have these days is why should we subscribe to just one whilst we could be a make up of so many beings.The world is without a doubt obsessed with blackness and whiteness,while there is so many different people.The label black or white is even restricts so many other people who do not see themselves as black or white.I come from South Africa and we are labelled coloured which is people of mixed racial decent and its not just black or white its chinese (what would we call them.Black?) Slaves from Malaysia,Java,India.Genetic studies suggest the group has the highest levels of mixed ancestry in the world.Its easy to choose black but blackness in Africa comes with ethnic alignment and what do you do when you do not speak a African language?I think you would know the importance of ethnicity in Africa and other modeled countries like the Latin americas etc. where alignment to a certain ethnic group is very important.We are busy with a project that we hoping to take to the UK aswel discussing the topic of mixed race

  • alexandra

    i want to no if it is right for a mixed race girl to date a asian boy or it is right for a mixed race girl to be best friends with a asian boy ive ben told that it is wrong and that it is right. just want to know before i make my desion thanks

    • Daiyu

      Why would it be wrong? He’s a person and you won’t know what’s right or wrong for him. You can’t decide to be best friends, and it takes two to decide if you should date.
      I’m also mixed race and have had different experiences with Asian guys. One said he knew I had to be part Asian (Chinese) for him to rationalize being attracted to me- but he did come from a traditional Chinese family. My friend’s brother on the other hand who came from an old fashioned Korean family loved having me around and would tease his sister that he was more pleased to see me around the house than his sister when we’d go to visit. The family was nothing but kind to me and were very welcoming. It depends on the person.

  • Sonia

    I find that the hardest part of being mixed race for me (half indian half white) is that other people don’t identify to you and treat you like you are lesser than them. Less knowledgable, less attractive, less worthy. I’m very fair skinned and even one of my friends will make sly comments about her skin being ”the Indian skin tone” despite the fact even none mixed Indians vary in skin tone from lightest to darkest she still seems to find it necessary to point out that I am different. I’ve had people who know I’m mixed race refer to me as white which I find quite rude but ultimately it is other people who are often just being ignorant and even though it can knock your confidence if you allow it to. It is more important to remember that is isn’t which box you tick on a form but who you are inside and the people who love you won’t care!

    • http://www.rushay.org Rushay

      Sonia i suggest you check out Facebook group mixis its a community of mixed race people that discusses this very issues you talking about.what i like about the group is that it highlights the plight of those who are in between the “battle” of black/white https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000753976838

      • MsAfropolitan

        Thanks Rushay, nice group

    • MsAfropolitan

      Thanks for stopping by Sonia. We have vast experiences to share, with varying reactions from people around us. I’ve had similar experience to you, and I can relate to it being disheartening. The most important thing is finding acceptance within, and also claiming your heritage. You are Indian no matter what anyone says, who says you have to look a certain way to be Indian, there’s such narrow mindedness around.

  • Taylor@YourService

    Thats so intresting – Im a mixed race girl also (white mum/black south american dad) however my parents splitup and my mum married a light skinned indian and had another child (now my half brother who I live with)… I have exactly the same thing. People say that I am attractive and I also do modeling but I find it very acward at times with family. E.g my grandmother (on dads black side) took my to a haidressers but wasn’t sure if we should go to black afro hairdressers or normall white hairdresser’s that I would be used to having being brought up with a white society…. We when to a white hairdressers anyway (my hair is closser to the whiter race dispite being quite curley)… Maybe it is just me but its just those small things hahaha. I think it can be an advance as both crowds are open to you (im not segregating or anything) … However In england especialy I think people steriotype mixerace people to be chavy kids living with single white mums!!! …. Do you agree with me on this steriotype?… (sorry about my spelling- dyslexia)

  • Sarah

    I’m mixed race and have no issues what so ever. I walk into a room full of white people and I don’t even notice, then I can walk into a room full of black people and again not notice. I can converse with both races on different levels. I have the good and bad of both races, so when a situation occures between 2 different races I can see both sides. I don’t even notice race until someone points it out, its not something on my radar because I’m mixed. I look at people for how they act and what they say.

  • JaCKDro

    It means fly, like the bug. It is the only term used that I know off and some dictionaries label it derogatory although most people that use it don’t think it is.