In generations past, couples that attempted to engage in an interracial relationship were shunned by peers and family members. Some would argue that it still happens. So what is life like for the children of interracial couples? As the child of a White father, and a Black and Native mother, I feel like I can offer some experiences. Experiences that should be seen as important because as time goes on, more and more mixed-race children are born. Some experts believe that one day, we'll be the majority.
For now, it feels like we don't really belong anywhere. People tend to spend time with people of the same race. So if you are mixed-race and in a neighborhood where that isn't a dominant trait, it's often isolating. Let's say you're with a group, and someone makes a racial joke that doesn't sit right with you. What do you do? If you speak up, you can't take a joke. If you say nothing, it contributes to the feeling that you're voiceless. You don't want to lose your friends, but are they really your friends if they don't care about something important to you? It's hard.
In my experience, a lot of people try laughing it off until it becomes too much. Sometimes they explode in fury from all the build-up. Then, they lose everything socially for being “so dramatic”. You can try to explain yourself, but no one ever seems to truly listen. In my case, I have a lighter skin-tone so when I explain why something doesn't sit well with me, they laugh at me. How can someone who “looks White” have an issue with this random joke about Black people? They forget that despite my appearances, I still see myself as part of the Black community. What makes the contributions of my White relatives into my development any more important than those of my Black or Native relatives?
I have also learned that regardless of my appearances, my relatives' visible race alters how people treat me. There are people who will always view me through the same racist lens that they see my relatives through. It makes me think of the old days when people were judged by the “one drop rule”. Most prominent in the United States, this rule was a way of measuring race that said that if a person contained even “one drop of Black blood”, they're Black.
I was once hired at a greenhouse, and within an hour of them finding out that I am related to some Black people in the community they fired me because I “didn't talk enough”. That's a load of crock. Even people who have never liked me a day in their lives could tell you that talking is not a problem for me. Some would even say that my problem is shutting up. It's so outlandish that people sometimes think I am lying. However, I remember making the phone call at the end of that shift, sitting in my parents' car, crying to my mother on the phone about losing my job.
I even had to break up with an ex-boyfriend of mine because the accusations from his family were insane. Apparently, being part Native meant that I was a mooch and being part Black meant that I was a liar. Well, considering that boy never paid for a single date, and he never visited me when we lived apart, despite me flying in to see him or making the drives once I moved closer, how was I the mooch? Did he have some secret fortune I didn't know? Where was this secret fortune when the cheque came at the restaurant? Even though I have happily moved on, my curiosity still wonders. So if you ever find out anything about my ex's apparent secret fortune, please let me know.
It's not just White people though. A lot of minority people often fail to see the hardships of the children of interracial couples. If you mention having problems, they will roll their eyes at you or tell you that you don't experience “real” racism. Racial issues are super important to me because to me those are my people. Black and Native people helped raise me. I grew up within the cultures. However, when important conversations come up, I am forced to sit on the sidelines so no one accuses me of “leaving my lane”. How isn't it my lane? We are talking my own loved ones here. My family. There's that feeling of being voiceless again.
Some of us have chosen a single race. It's not for me, but maybe it would be easier. Some think that these negatives are why interracial couples shouldn't exist. To me, that's absurd. Maybe the world should just adapt like we've had to.