Race

Being Biracial/Multicultural: An Identity Crisis

Being multiracial or biracial subculture means that you are two or more races. For some people, being a part of this subculture means a lot to their identity. Even though we are just like everyone else, our tradition and upbringing is very different from others. We encounter different experiences from those outside of the subculture. Life so far has only been about learning more about myself every day while finding my identity as a biracial woman.

The Biracial subculture is important to me because it makes me feel diversified and different from others. I always thought that it was interesting that I was always surrounded by 2 different cultures every day. Everything from the music to the food would amaze me and I would always take pride in whom I was and where my family was from. People would make comments about how different I looked from my mother but, those remarks would encourage me to explain to them where she is from and how just because she looks different that doesn’t mean that isn’t my mother. I never felt ashamed of being biracial even though it came with many challenges. Where my parents are from, different languages were spoken while I am only fluent in English. Communication was hard between my different families, but I still loved the culture I was being exposed to.

Being biracial makes me the “black sheep” in my family. Most of my family is Hispanic and mostly speak Spanish. When I visit them in New York, there is definitely a barrier between me and everyone else. While everyone is speaking Spanish, I have no idea what anyone is saying and my mother has to translate everything. It does put me in an uncomfortable situation. When I am at my own home surrounded my immediate family and friends, I feel more comfortable. My parents speak to me in English and so do my friends. My friends are the same age as me and are better to relate to and communicate with. Along with not knowing the same language, I also look different too. I have a darker skin tone than everyone else. Sometimes I feel “less Hispanic” and I notice myself distancing from my own culture.

I do believe that people apart of the Biracial/Multiracial subculture are ethnocentric. People tend to think that being a part of this subculture makes them better looking and exotic. It gives them a “reason” to be conceited. For this reason, there are some people who claim to being multiracial/biracial even though they are not. The reason is unknown because this subculture doesn’t get any special treatments or opportunities. Even though people within the culture have their own opinion, people outside of this subculture have a perspective. They tend to believe that multiracial people have favorable conditions for an easier life, which isn’t true.

The Multiracial/Biracial subculture have experienced class conflict and identity issues, especially when they are younger. An example that affects the identity crisis that this subculture goes through are TV commercials. Commercials usually only include families of one race which makes multiracial families feel out of place and excluded.  They have a hard time being accepted by the races they are mixed with. A common misconception is that the Multiracial/Biracial subculture serves a part in functionalism. There are many who believe that because they are more than one race, they bring unity and equality to all of the races. Mixed people still experience racism throughout their life.  In this society, darker skin is less desirable than fairer skin. Multiracial or not, people with darker skin will experience more racism and hatred than any other person.

The Multiracial/Biracial subculture experience anti-multiculturalism. When you are multiracial or biracial, you are exposed to stereotypes of every race you are mixed with. For example, as a mixed woman with black and Hispanic tradition, people will assume that I am uneducated and unambitious. A mixed race stereotype is that they have long, loose, curly hair with light skin. That stereotype leaves people who are mixed race with a kinky or straight texture with dark skin feel out of place and are left with an identity issue. My hair has always been something that was the most important to my appearance. When I was little, I had very thick, curly hair. Almost all of the girls in my class had straightened hair while my hair was coiled. Thick, kinky hair like mine was considered “nappy,” which meant that it was rough, frizzy, and unmanageable. I desperately wanted to get a relaxer, which is a chemical that permanently straightens your hair, but my parents refused. I did get a texturizer, which makes my curls softer and looser because I thought: “The straighter, the better.” Now, I love my curls and I am happy that I never relaxed my hair. My hair is who I am and symbolizes where my family came from, and I am proud of that. Either way, no one wants to be identified and judged just by their race.

The most difficult situation is dealing with a racial identity crisis. There are many things that makes multiracial or biracial person feel obligated to pick only of the races they are mixed with. For example, when filling out a form, a question that might appear is “Pick on race.” The question is confusing for multiracial and biracial people when they have to pick only one race when they are composed of two or more races. Personally, I have experienced times where people made comments such as “Well, you don’t look Hispanic. You just look black.” That comment used to bother me because I felt like maybe I wasn’t really Hispanic and that the way I looked wasn’t enough for me to be Hispanic. It took a while for me to realize that I didn’t need to prove myself to anyone. Stereotypes are somethings that people within the Multicultural/Biracial community have to deal with even when they aren’t true. After all of the difficulties that we have to go through, I am still proud to be a part of the community.

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Nature Duran-Smith writes about personal experiences, feminism, LGBTQ+, mental health, and arts + culture. Nature is a college student from Maryland. She is studying social work while working part-time at a natural hair salon as a receptionist. Living in the DMV has allowed her to be exposed to many artistic and political atmospheres that gives her the desire to share it with the world.

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