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Get in where you fit in: Being biracial in America

By Beverly Graham | Brand Manager
On December 6, 2017

 

Camryn Williams poses for a picture on campus.
Photo credit: Camryn Williams

The conversation about biracial and multiracial individuals struggling to assimilate into their respective communities has been addressed by quite a few individuals in media and on the campus of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU).

Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, known by his stage name Logic, is an American rapper, songwriter singer, and record producer.

In his song “Take it back,” Logic sheds light on his biracial background and the obstacles he had to face because of it.

 “White people told me as a child, as a little boy, playin’ with his toys, I should be ashamed to be black and some black people look ashamed when I rap,” said Logic.

The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 made it a requirement that every person must have their race identified upon birth. This act gave way to what is known as the one-drop rule, meaning if a person has at least one drop of black blood within their ancestry they are to be considered black.

This rule would prevent any black person with a lighter complexion to pass as a white person.

The term was coined by Dr. Walter Plecker, a registrar of Virginia’s Bureau of Vital Statistics.

This way of thinking has been absorbed by individuals in American society, placing biracial and multiracial individuals in the cross fire of ridicule.

“Pick a race and stick with it,” is what was told to Kendrick Walker when he was younger.

Walker, 21, a junior political science student from Orlando, FL, is black, white, and Asian.

“I did have some self-identify issues at one point, I knew I was mixed but I never knew which race I should follow. Do I act like a typical black guy or act like a white guy ignoring all that my race has been through?” said Walker.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “multiracial youth and mixed families often experience unique types of discrimination and microaggressions.”

“Among the multiple types, one is exclusion or isolation in which multiracial people are excluded due to their mixed status.”

There is a sense of confusion and frustration in not knowing what to identify as, which essentially begins to feel as though one does not know who they are.

“I would put ‘other’ when I would fill out forms, but now I put black,” said Camryn Williams.

Williams, 18, is a freshman pre-occupational therapy student from Orlando, FL. Williams is Filipino and black.

“I started questioning my family because I was viewed as not normal for being biracial, so it made me look at my family like, are we not normal?” said Williams.

Multiracial individuals not only have to deal with the ridicule of those within their communities, but also the criticism from those within their own families.

“I had darker cousins that would call me white, I would go to school thinking I was white sometimes,” said Lindsey Lindor.

Lindor, 19, a sophomore biology major, is Chinese, Jamaican, and Haitian.

“The negative part of being biracial was not knowing early on how to identify myself,” said Lindor.

It can be difficult to find the balance in accepting and displaying one’s background without being criticized for diminishing the other.

“My dad told me when I was little that it doesn’t matter whether you’re mixed with this or that, because the world is going to view you as a black woman at the end of the day,” said Williams.

Although being biracial or multiracial may come with some tough times and unexpected obstacles, there is a brighter side to the lifestyle.

“You get to embrace two different or however many cultures that you are part of,” said Lindor.

Diversity should be embraced, and being a part of multiple racial groups or having various ethnic backgrounds is something to be proud of and not ashamed.

 

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