opinion

COLUMN: The beautiful journey of being biracial



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Jacyln Ferguson writes about being biracial in the United States and how she has been faced with prejudice and stereotypes. Jennifer Lee

“I didn’t know you were adopted.”

Freshman year of high school, a fellow classmate blatantly spewed that ignorant sentence out of her mouth when she saw my mom pick me up after school.

Yes, my mother has straight, silky blond hair, vivacious blue eyes and a light complexion. I have thick curly hair, dark eyes and a caramel color skin that can quickly turn three shades darker in the sun.

But no, I am not adopted. That blond-hair, blue-eyed woman gave birth to me. I am a proud biracial woman.

Everyone needs to be cognizant of comments made toward biracial people. Not every experience is the same, and it is discriminatory to pit our races against each other.

The amount of biracial people in America has been increasing in recent years. On the 2010 U.S. Census, 2.9 percent of the total population reported multiple races. This was up from 2.4 percent in 2000.

Being biracial of black and white descent in a country that is so diverse, yet so divided, has been a complicated yet beautiful experience that I would not trade for the world.

I have family members who have been able to acquire great wealth and a grandmother who marched during the civil rights movement.

When I was young, I didn’t see race. My sisters looked like me and although my parents did not, I lived in a house full of love and life, so it did not matter.

As a carefree 8-year-old girl with four missing teeth who just wanted to climb trees and cut Barbie dolls’ hair there was not much to question.

But as I grew up, I began to have identity issues that I typically kept to myself.

Due to working hard in school and being a well-spoken individual, I was often called an “Oreo.” This refers to being “white on the inside but black on the outside.”

Everyone likes Oreos, but trust me, nobody likes being called one.

Feeling as though my blackness was undermined due to simply being an articulate young woman was difficult.

On the other hand, if I got a little too passionate and angry about something I cared about, it would be viewed as my “black side coming out.” As if black women are always angry and white women are unable to be passionate about anything.

The summer after seventh grade I had a dark tan I initially wore with a glowing confidence. But my hair also turned into a sandy blond color. Someone told me that the combination of dark skin and light hair made me look “really weird.”

These instances made the journey to self-discovery and identification difficult.

Due to society and culture, I identify more with my black side and have a stronger sense of relatability to black people than white people.

But that does not mean I ignore my white heritage. I do recognize the many privileges I have that come with being half-white.

If I have to check one box on an identification form, I mark black.

That does not make me confused or ignorant as to who I am as an individual. No, it does not mean I am another Rachel Dolezal. I simply have more experiences similar to black women than white women.

Although it did not always come easy, I love who I am and am confident in every corner and crevice of my ancestry.

I am comfortable around individuals of all backgrounds and can easily connect to people regardless of race.

Additionally, I have a strong sense of self-identification and acceptance, which I attribute to the diversity I have been surround by since birth.

So no, I am not adopted, and you cannot compare my personality to a cookie.

I am a combination of two races that are able to blend however I feel fit. That is the beauty of being biracial.

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