But then my friend Steph told me about an article she read on Jezebel and I decided to share my story anyway.
I'm sure most of you have heard by now about the Cheerios ad featuring the biracial family and how they actually had to turn comments off because so many people were upset about it. Yes, in 2013, people were upset about a biracial family on a commercial.
For those of you who don't know, I'm biracial. My mom is white, my dad is black. That wasn't always easy for me growing up. My parents dealt with a lot. At one point, they tried to take my older sister away from my mother (she has a different father and is white) because according to the state we lived in, they weren't sure it was a healthy environment for my sister to live in because my black father was there (even had our yard set on fire. This was the 80's). My sister had to live with my mother's parents until we could move from the state. Now I was young, so I didn't understand everything that was happening, but to me that meant something was "wrong" with my family. What was wrong with my father and I? Why couldn't my sister stay with us?
So we moved and things were better, but then something else happened... My parents got divorced. My mom, sister and I moved to a different state and my father wasn't around for a while. Now I had to question why only I was different. I had different skin than my family and different hair than my family. My poor mom didn't really know how to deal with my hair very well because my dad's family had helped so much, so the black kids at my school teased me because I didn't know what to do with my own hair and the white kids just didn't know what to make of me. It would have been cool to see someone like myself on TV. It would have been cool not to feel alone.
As I got older things got better. We figured things out to do with my hair. We moved states again and even though I was in a city that was 99% white, I felt like I belonged most of the time. Sure there were instances where people assumed I was one of the "Smith kids" (name changed) because they were the only black family in town. I had to be a "Smith" since I was black--because that's automatically what I was. I wasn't biracial--I was black. And then when I met black friends from a town over I was never "black enough". So yes, I had friends and felt loved and look back on those middle school and teen years fondly, as a whole, but I definitely felt, that to some of the white people, I wasn't "white enough" because of how I looked, and to the black people, I wasn't "black enough" because I didn't know my black family and a lot of my history and I still sometimes had issues with my hair. Like that article said, I felt like I had to choose which race I wanted to be. That was hard and confusing.
Again, it would have been nice to see someone like me on TV. Just a commercial that was like every other commercial. Something that wasn't about race--but people. Everyday people and families who just so happened to look a little differently than each other.
My husband is white. Luckily my kids don't have to deal with the things I did. For the most part, no one second guesses anything. My oldest has really dark eyes and dark hair and olive skin. My youngest takes after her dad and she is blond (though it's getting a little darker as she gets older) and she has really fair skin. There was only once I've been asked who I was to her, to which I proudly said I'm her mom and my oldest looked at me wondering why someone would ask that. Things are better, but yeah, there is still progress to be made. The Cheerios commercial is a step in the right direction and I for one, love it.