The Beauty of Biraciality

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
What is it like to be a biracial teen? This is a Mom's perspective...

Submitted: April 16, 2011

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Submitted: April 16, 2011



My daughter is a teenager and is biracial. When I was pregnant, I worried very little about the prejudice or bias she might encounter because she was half-black; it seemed to me in the 20th century, in America, she would simply be accepted by either whites or blacks. In my world-view, everybody has a place in America, regardless of their skin color or heritage. As I sit here reflecting back to my somewhat naive, simplistic understanding of what it would mean for her to be biracial, I have to admit now that my understanding was narrow and limited. Her experience being a biracial child has been not simple, but complicated. And although she is not an outcast to either ethnic group, neither does she feel completely included by either of them. She is in the "midlands;" neither here nor there. She is not a part of either group; not identified completely with the whites, nor able to totally relate to the blacks. She is a unique amalgamation; a solitary individual. And sometimes, she explains, it gets lonely.

When you ask her does she relate to the black youth's culture of hip-hop fashion, rap music and slang, she replies, "Sort of." When you ask if she "fits in" with the white girls, she admits with a sigh that she doesn't, with her wide nose and challenging black hair. Where does a teenager, who belongs to two ethnic groups, land? She admits feeling misunderstood by both groups of kids...a lot. She repeats the statement that she is "just me" and "unique"...a lot. She is different from even the minority kids. She is struggling at 13 to accept herself. But what teenage girl isn't? Girls of this age typically struggle with poor self-image. They see themselves as too fat or too thin, too ugly or too curvy, too shy or too loud, too poor...but never too rich! Yet even the "rich girls" find something to object to about themselves, because they are all in a similar difficult metamorphosis called growing up. They are experiencing inner turmoil, as the caterpillar struggling within the cocoon; wrestling with themselves until they realize one day that being whoever they are is divinely perfect. Then, they take wing, and fly away. But my biracial teenager may have a doubly hard job of it, because she is defying all racial stereotypes by simply being who she is.

The one thing I can do as a parent is to assure her that she is beautiful and perfect, and that it is okay to be "different." Yet, I know in my heart it will be years and years before she is able to truly embrace and accept her individuality, and to express her love of it, if she ever does. The world can be a confusing and difficult place if you don't "fit in" to the mainstream culture. In the final analysis, I hope and believe these ethnic challenges will make her a stronger person. It is said: "Whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger." Being a different color in a white and black world only adds to the beauty; diversity never detracts. It is interesting and noteworthy, and someday, that is what she will be.

© Copyright 2018 Nina Bingham. All rights reserved.

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