Mixed-Heritage People

This year’s Black Liberation and Community Development Workshop was special for me because we were led by our beloved light-skinned African-heritage female leader Alysia Tate. It was great to see her at the center, confident and connected. It moved something for me as a mixed-heritage Black female. It gave me hope that one day I could take my mind as seriously and lead my African-heritage brothers and sisters, as well as my Latinx and Indigenous folks.

Here are some of my thoughts after attending a mixed-heritage topic group at the workshop:

Being a lighter-skinned mixed-African-heritage woman, I am often the recipient of a lot of clienting, mostly due to people’s confusion about the various and “unique” ways we mixed-heritage people may look. Viewing us often restimulates people, since they cannot label us or easily “put us in a box.”

I think that people should discharge on their early memories of “different-looking people” and on the histories of colonization that have led to there being mixed-heritage peoples all over the globe. Puerto Ricans, my people, are a major mixed-heritage group that has existed since the fifteenth century.

Our families may look different from what mainstream U.S. culture says a family should look like. For example, parents, siblings, children, and other relatives often look very different from each other—there is so much genetic diversity. We get to be proud of that.

We are often viewed as “weird” or “abnormal,” because we don’t fit the prescribed norm. We end up feeling like “we’re the only ones” or we’re special, exotic, or unique (also known as the “unicorn syndrome”).

We need to be reminded that we get to claim each and every part of ourselves—one hundred percent. We do not need to compartmentalize ourselves or our heritages. We do not fit into one box, nor do we have to.

It can be difficult for us to figure out who our romantic partners should be—we have so many options!

When the question arises, “What are your heritages?” it is a contradiction [to distress] for us to be given the space and time to tell about all of our heritages (even the ones we’re not sure about). Rushing us through or creating a sense of a “timed space” doesn’t contradict our pull to try to fit into one category or explain our heritages in a way that people will have attention for.

We want to belong, and we do indeed belong. Everywhere. I love being mixed heritage.

Tatiana Elena Williams-Rodríguez

Malden, Massachusetts, USA

(Present Time 187, April 2017)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00