Being a Mixed Millennial

by Jo Pietersen 8 months ago in humanity

A black & white world for a black & white girl

Being a Mixed Millennial

When I was younger, I went to a primary school based in the center of Cambridge. Cambridge is one of the most diverse cities, I've ever had the pleasure of knowing so well; however, where there is diversity, there isn't always acceptance.

This is a statement that reigns true for Cambridge, with it being one of the most inadvertently racist communities I've ever been apart of. When I say 'inadvertently' I am referring to the subtlety that is maintained throughout all racist statements made; meaning that before you go home and think about it, you don't even realize that you've been blatantly insulted.

Although, I am aware of how much racism is spoken about and how bored we all get of hearing and investing our feelings in the most irrational kind of prejudice that exists today. Nevertheless, being a mixed race woman, I feel were are a collection that is underrepresented.

No one talks about what it means to be mixed race in 2019. That is to say, white people do not understand the oppression and inequality we suffer and neither do black people. In my life, I have come to realize that statements such as 'white supremacy' and 'white privilege' turn everyone's head. People who are white, will either: Get their back up or get upset. When they get their back up, they start getting their knickers in a twist about how times have changed and how they're not racist. Not in what you say, or what you do but in how you live. Black people; they laugh. They look at you as if you could never understand what it feels to be oppressed by a system that is run inherently by white supremacy.

Which, I'd be wrong if I said the statement was false. It is true, I do not know what white supremacy means for you. I do not know what it feels like to feel that close to slave trade. I don't know how it feels to be that impacted by the fact you wear your skin all day everyday and have people hurl irrational statements in your direction. So now, let me talk about the fact you don't know what it feels like to be mixed race and receive racism.

We get racism from both sides. It is a challenge, to not feel like the odd one out. To fight the belief that you don't belong on either side, you're not white and you're not black. You are part of your own community, where there is still rival and rejection based on how dark or light you are.

Here's some of the recent things I've been insulted by:

  • "Man said you're dads black?! You're not mixed, you're white."
  • "Where did you get that tan? It's amazing!" I politely informed her that it's natural and she told me "People should stick to their own kind."
  • "Is she wearing fake tan or is she black? Nah she's just dirty."
  • "You're not black enough to say that."
  • "You look blacker when your hair is braided."
  • "That makes you sound like a white girl."
  • "Your dad is not black. Look how white you are, you're not even a bit African; let alone half."

Why is it that, when the your skin doesn't look the color others think it should, you're lying? How is it, that just because I only look like I've had a holiday recently, that I'm not mixed?

People can generally tell that I'm not entirely white or English (it varies), sometimes people will approach me speaking other languages. Sometimes, the uncertainty of my history makes them unnerved. In school I was 'the white kid with black hair' and I have had people look at my parents as if they are kidnappers all my life because I don't look the same as either of them.

It's been hard, being such an accepting woman to believe the fact that people are genuinely still being treated differently because of the color of their skin. As a society, we need to stop making naff attempts to box people. You cannot compartmentalize people in separation based solely on the country they were born in, the combination of the heritage of the color of their skin. This is an ideology that has been built up, by society, over thousands of years. It is so ingrained in every part of our culture and tradition: from racism in judiciary's, from lack of equal opportunities within workplaces to any other level of mistreatment.

Where you are from and the color of your skin, do not define you. The body you wear is just protecting who you are. I fought long and hard to be proud of the fact that I am mixed race, telling my friends parents when I was in school was as scary as coming out to a catholic church. People used to always ask me, "Why do you tell them?" I don't announce my heritage to be pitied or bullied but to be celebrated and accepted.

The fact that 'I am white' has been ingrained into me so deeply, when I answer the question of "Where are you from?" in my response I say, "South Africa, I am half black South African," to make it abundantly clear that I will not fall to any black or white persons knees and say I am white or I am black because I am neither. I am mixed race.

Jo Pietersen
Jo Pietersen
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