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Like all middle-schoolers Ferguson had crushes and wanted to be popular. It was the first time she realized that people are different colors—and receive different treatment because of that.
For many biracial people, that understanding can be both elusive and arbitrary. From checking boxes on forms to fulfilling quotas, race is used to define and control so many aspects of everyday life. And biracial people are constantly faced with a choice. Biracial women who struggle with their own identity may feel an overwhelming outside pressure for racial clarity. Nearly two-thirds of people with a mixed-race background do not identify as multi- or biracial, according to a Pew Research Center study of Americans with at least two races in their background.
There are a variety of factors—skin tone, hair color, eye color, where and how a person was raised—that may influence how a person of dual heritage classifies herself. Heikkinen, whose mother is black Black and white mixed men father is white, looks white: She has blonde hair, green eyes, freckles, and pale skin. Growing up, Heikkinen struggled with hating the white Black and white mixed men of herself. As she wished she had darker skin so she could encounter the same experiences as her mother, brother, and sister, who are all a few shades darker.
Are you really black? Ferguson has fair skin, brown eyes, and dark curly hair, but her older sister, Ashley Ferguson, is more white-presenting with pale skin, green eyes, and red hair. Ashley, like Heikkinen, sometimes felt alienated from her family because of her physical appearance. For many identification factors eye color, weight, country of origin there can be only one correct answer.
Census even allowed multiple selections for race. Combining black and white ancestry is about much more than how that DNA affects your skin tone or hair texture. The fraught history between the two races can present myriad struggles mentally and emotionally for those grappling with being a blend of both. Lately, checking social media—and seeing the posts proclaiming white supremacy or belittling BlackLivesMatter—has made Sneed more ashamed of her white side.
Sneed identifies more as a black woman because she says she's more comfortable in her blackness than her whiteness, but that has presented its own set of challenges. She was raised by her white mother, but lived in an area with a larger black population.
Sneed never felt comfortable, she says, with things she attributed as white, like having straight hair or loving country music. On the inside, she felt black, but on the outside, she looked white. That dissonance led to difficulty being accepted by her peers, and she wrestled internally over her identity. A big part of the biracial experience is being treated—or not—like a black person in society.
Sneed worked hard to prove that she was black, using beauty products made for black women and going to a black beauty salon, but that, too, made her feel ashamed. As humans, we have a built-in tendency to want to belong to groups, says Gaither.
Typically for people who are half-white and half-black, a big part of their experience is being treated—or not—like a black person in society, says Gaither. You look ambiguous, so you have more choices of identity. Like Sneed, Heikkinen has spent most of her life having to prove her blackness to those who questioned it. It became common practice for her to show a picture of her and her mother to those who needed verfication. And while constantly having to justify an identity is frustrating, Heikkinen recognizes the privilege that comes with looking white.
Ashley Ferguson believes that people demand so much from mixed-race people because they are trying to make themselves feel more comfortable. Depending on how someone is raised, they might need to put a person in a box in order to understand their version of that person, Black and white mixed men her sister, Samantha. Samantha Ferguson, who graduated from Bowie State University, a historically black college, recalls being treated differently at that school because of her white features. Her fellow co-eds also judged her based on her perceived race.
I am black. I am white. United States. Type keyword s to search. Today's Top Stories. The Eternal Sunshine of Juno Temple. Samantha Ferguson with her siblings clockwise from leftLeah, Isaiah, and Ashley. Courtesy of Samantha Ferguson. Sarah Heikkinen today, left, and right, with her mother Jacqueline Vogel, in Courtesy of Sarah Heikkinen. Kayla Boyd, center, inheld by her father, James Boyd, as they pose with her great-uncle Randall, her cousin Anthony, and her aunt Zeonaca. Courtesy of Kayla Boyd. Sarah Sneed, whose mother is white and father is black, says lately she has been "ashamed of her white side.
Sarah Gaither with her mom, Kathy, her father, Clifford, and her younger brother, Adam, in when she was 4 years old. Courtesy of Sarah Gaither. Courtesy of Samantha and Ashley Ferguson. This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this to help users provide their addresses. You may be Black and white mixed men to find more information about this and similar content at piano. Advertisement - Continue Reading Below.
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