Ashley: My experience as a biracial woman

Volunteering for the Human Library Chicago to talk about life as a bi-racial person is important to me because we are becoming a mixed-race nation.  I think it’s important to talk about cultural identity and the hardships of “fitting in” with a culture and being accepted.  I want people to see that we are all the same and that mixing of race and culture is a beautiful thing.  We don’t have to choose which group to identify with we can identify with all people. We need to be more tolerant towards each other and hopefully grow to love and respect our differences.

One of the most common misconceptions I have heard about bi-racial people is that they are confused. I have heard people say that bi-racial children don’t know what culture or race they belong to and spend years trying to figure out their “identity”. I don’t believe that is true. I have a family full of multiracial people and they all know who they are and where they come from. That could be attributed to parents who made sure the children knew about their culture and heritage. That is another thing I would like to address during this project. Parents of biracial children need to take the time to teach the children about their cultures. Even if you are a single parent that child needs to know about the other parent’s customs and be exposed to people like them. If not then that may feel confused and that they don’t fit in with the people they are around.

Because of my book title I have experienced racism and prejudice. This happened mostly when I was a child. Black girls did not like me because of my olive skin and long, curly hair. They also didn’t like me because they saw me as competition. Black boys courted me and put me on a pedestal which also upset black girls. White girls didn’t want to always include me and would sometimes make fun of my puffy hair and darker skin color. White boys did not want to date me because they didn’t want to be made fun of for dating a black girl. I wasn’t dark enough for the black people and too dark for white people. I didn’t understand why we all just weren’t people. I didn’t understand why people didn’t like me when they had never even spoken to me. I hated being judged based of appearance only.

There were times in life where I felt like I just wanted to be one race but not because of how I felt inside (confident and strong) but because of how others would make me feel. People acted like I had to choose a race or culture to identify with instead of just being Ashley! However, today I would not change my race for the world. I have a lot of pride in saying I am multiracial. I would like my story to inspire young people to be themselves and embrace their diversity! Revel in the fact that you can identify with many people and cultures! I would also like to educate parents on the importance of teaching children about all of their cultures!