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"Hey, What Are You?"

That's a question I hear often. I'm Black, Scottish, Native American, and Latina. I look at myself, I mostly see Black. I have a nice, honey or caramel colored complexion, not too light, not too brown. I like that. My eyes are hazel, sometimes they are light brown, almost yellow, other times they are brown, sometimes green. My hair is at my mid back, straight-ish wavy, sometimes too puffy to function, sometimes to flat to do anything with, and it's dark brown with weird reddish highlights. At first glance, most people would write me off as a light skinned Black girl. I identify with that, mostly. But I don't disown or disrespect my other cultures. I can't. My grandmother is literally half White (I'm not exactly sure what White, and neither is she. Her White mother was disowned by her family for marrying a "Black" man, who was actually Native American.) her husband was Afro-Latino. That's my grandfather, who I never met. All I know is his name was Henry, he was actually half American Black and half Latino. They had my mother, who is quite a beautiful woman with straight black hair, tan skin, and smoldering brown eyes. My father's mother is Native American and Black, and his father is Black and Scottish. Both of them have curly, soft hair, and tan skin. My father, their first born, looks just like his father, but has his mother's nose- which he gave to me. It's a very prominent, strongly Cherokee looking nose. I sometimes hate it, but I've grown to love it. It reminds me of my heritage. My mother's mother has very strong Cherokee features as well. She's beautiful, she looks like every Native American woman you've ever seen in artwork. My whole family is beautiful. Most of us have distinct differences, with the basic same face and body structure. It's amazing how your genes can split and come out however they want to. I have four siblings. My sister is very dark skinned, with straight long black hair, and she looks exactly like my mother. My oldest brother is very dark, too, and he has very straight black hair too. The middle brother is milk-chocolate colored, with brown eyes, curly black hair, and very Native American features. He's a good looking boy. My youngest brother is almost twins with me. He's light, like me, has the yellowest hazel eyes, and straight dusty brown/reddish hair. All of my cousins are the same as us. Some dark, some very light, all with long straight or curly black hair. Only a few of us get hazel eyes or the reddish brown hair. I have a few cousins that look straight Puerto Rican or Native American, some that look Arab, some that just look Black.

But even though I identify mostly as Black (mostly because of my grandparents and the "one drop" rule, that made most any brown person identify as "negro"), I always get asked "what are you?" I usually laugh at that question and simply answer "American."

There are some truly sad stories about my mixed race grandparents. I'd tell you here, but it'll take a long time. Mixing wasn't very "smiled upon" back then, and it sure caused some problems. Like my Grandpop's White father denying him, but leaving him land... only for Grandpop's White siblings to deny him of it. Well, I won't get into it all. But I love being a mutt butt (as me and all of my mixed up friends and sibs loved to call ourselves! lol). And I do celebrate all of my cultures!

It's good to be a TRUE American! So mixed up it's not even funny!

MysteriousSkin MysteriousSkin 22-25, F 2 Responses Jan 22, 2008

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The same thing happened to my grandfather. His White father denied him but left him land. My granddad did not want anything from him. I am brown I do not even claim any of my other races because I feel like some blacks just don't believe you. Yet they ask, "are you mixed".

i really liked your story, your family reminds me of mine. and like you i identify myself as black although, im a lighter brown which comes from my puerto rican father, but rather straight hair. and very native american facial features which comes from my cuban and native american mother.